28 August 2008

Why I'm Going to Guatemala

Shaun Groves said it better than I ever could:

There’s joy in compassionate living: You know what joy in the bible often is? It’s security that comes from confidence in God. You know God has brought you this far, that he’s with you now, that he’s got a plan for tomorrow too and he’s so real and you’re so certain of it that you’re not angry, not worried, not pushy, not self-absorbed or scared. And while joy is not ha ha happiness and grins, it is a state of being that brings ha ha happiness and grins within closer reach of your psyche. Laughter is nearer the surface. Smiles take less effort. Nothing I’ve found cultivates my own joy better than serving and speaking up for the poor.

The poor are joyful, more so than the rich. Don’t argue with me on this until you’ve been to church in Africa and then worshipped in an upper class sanctuary here in America. As one Ethiopian explained to me, a man who can pull out a credit card and buy all the daily bread he wants depends less upon God than the poor man who must pray for his constantly. There’s no denying that there is a correlation between our awareness of our need and our dependence upon God we call joy. Poverty’s joy is catchy, transforming for me, because it reminds me of my own dependence upon God. It makes me grateful for that credit card in my wallet and aware that it is a gift from God - lest I lose my joy to the illusion of self-sufficiency. That dependence and joy is such a complete change in perspective that it is impossible for me to be consistently angsty or down anymore. I have my moments and sometimes they are dug in deep and hard to shake, but they are fewer and fewer and they grip me less and less tightly.

Yes, I'm going to Guatemala to minister.
But I'm also going to be ministered TO.
I'm going to be changed, to be reminded that I have too much, that I think I "need" too much, that God is present with the poor, the widow, the orphan, and the oppressed.

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