I had dinner with Julie tonight. The food was great, but the conversation was even better. We started talking about how we both feel like we’re living in two overlapping worlds.
Julie brought it up first, well she actually wrote about it earlier today and then I commented on what she had written. She wrote about her two worlds – the wilderness and Maple Grove. She feels at home in both places, and longs to be in both places.
As we talked I shared about how I feel like I’m in two worlds. I’m living in a broken world where there is pain and suffering. I’m also living in a world that has been made whole again, where there is love and joy. Unlike Julie who wants to be in both of her worlds, I would much rather be in the world of love and joy. However, since I’m being called to love the people around me, I’m being called to love the broken world, too.
I believe that God is in the process of repairing the broken world, and in some small way he is using me to help in that process. I would be happy going off and living in a monastery. I think sometimes I try to do that right here in Maple Grove. I try not to see the brokenness around me. Then God shows me some brokenness and breaks my heart in the process. Then the only way to mend my heart is to help heal the brokenness in the world.
Three days ago I wrote about one of those times. I thought it was about sharing God’s good news. Well, it was, but not in the way I thought. I thought sharing God’s good news was telling people about what God is doing. It turns out that God’s good news is not just about what God is doing – it is about God doing things and using me to help do them. The good news is that God loves this world – this broken world – and that he is in the process of restoring it. Not that he is going to restore it, or has restored it, but that right now, right in this place, he is restoring it – and I’m one of the tools God is using.
So I met these kids while I was running through the poorer part of town trying to get my coin purse back. God touched my heart and opened my eyes so I could see the brokenness around me. He showed me his love flowing from one little child to another. I stepped in and shared his love, too. I made a commitment to come and pray with the children everyday for a week.
I’ve fulfilled that commitment now. I’m free to come back to my happy world. But guess what, praying with those children for a week was just the beginning of God’s good news. I spent a couple minutes a day with them for a week, and now they’re in my heart. On the fourth day I took muffins to share with them. They devoured the muffins. The next day I took three apples. Three of their friends joined us to pray that day – so we each got half an apple.
On the sixth day I took a whole bag of apples and some rolls. Three more friends joined us. The nine of us sat together and ate the apples, and ate the bread as we talked and then we all prayed together. I had enough to send them each home with an extra apple. One little boy asked if he could have an extra one for his little sister.
Today was a repeat of yesterday. The last of the original ten children showed up, and I made jelly sandwiches for us all to eat. We had a good time. One of the little girls brought her stuffed toy, Snuggles, and introduced her to me. We ate. We prayed. We even played some freeze tag.
My commitment of praying with the little boy for a week has ended. So, do I walk away – go back to my comfortable and happy world? I can’t. A piece of me is now part of these children’s world. In one week I’ve seen more of God’s handiwork in the lives of these children, than I have in a month of going to church.
I can’t afford to take time to see them everyday, but I can see them every week. When I left them today, Jenny – the little girl who was comforting Jimmy – came up and gave me a hug. She said, “Thank you for coming and seeing us. Thank you for not being is such a hurry, like that other man. I love you.”
I told them all that I would come next week, and bring a picnic lunch for all of us to share. I also asked Jenny if she would ask her parents if their family would like to have dinner with me sometime.
What started as a pickpocket taking 20 pieces of silver, has already cost me at least that much more. But it’s not the silver that matters. Ten little children have also each taken a little part of my heart. So far, however, I’ve gotten the better part of the deal. The joy that God has given me, as he used me to help heal this little part of the world, is so much more amazing than the joy I experience in my world of “love and joy.”