I hate it when people go on mission trips and come home all “Oooh, you couldn’t possibly understand it, but we went to Abracadabra and Bibbidybobbityboo and that’s in the southeastern corner of the district of Allacazam in the country of Boolaboola (don’tcha know) and it was AMAZING! The poor people there need so much but are so full of joy! We need to help them and you should have been there!”
And those who haven’t been think, “Well, I wasn’t there.” And eyes glaze over and they think “No, I couldn’t possibly understand, and what could I do even if I did understand and you’re being a little obnoxious right now.”
All that to say that as I post from Africa I’m going to try not to do that and I pray you find these thoughts relevant for you.
There is a much repeated prayer in World Vision, “Let my heart be broken by the things that break the heart of God.” There’s a lot that I know breaks God’s heart around the world. Obvious stuff like poverty, injustice, violence, corruption…
Whenever we travel in the developing world and we pray that prayer, our go-to response is to be sad and compassionate and prayerful about what we’re seeing. We want to know how we can partner with God to bring His kingdom to every corner of the world. And that’s a good thing mostly, I think.
But poverty isn’t just “out there” or “over there”.
It’s here too. In me. Poverty of spirit, of humility, of understanding, of awareness.
This trip what I’ve been thinking about is “What is breaking God’s heart in me?”
The first time I came to Africa my biggest fear was getting lice. And I wasn’t too keen on holding babies and toddlers without diapers or underwear. And I was way too embarrassed to dance with the women who invited us to join them in this expression of joy and hospitality. (What would I look like?? What if there were awkward pictures of a chubby white woman?).
There were things I wanted to experience, but times when I just shut down with emotional discomfort, like when we were standing with a young girl by the graves of her parents who had died of AIDS. She, left alone to care for her younger brothers and sisters.
There. Now you know the smallness of my heart and the enormity of my pride. There is much in me that I think grieves God’s heart, and pride is one thing. For a long time it kept me from truly entering into life with my brothers and sisters here. And it still trips me up sometimes. I’m getting better, but I need to continue to pray that prayer for awareness.
Oswald Chambers wrote, “If human love does not carry a man [or woman] beyond himself, it is not love. If love is always discreet, always wise, always sensible and calculating, never carried beyond itself, it is not love at all. It may be affection, it may be warmth of feeling, but is has not the true nature of love in it.”
So, what does this look like where you are today? We need healthy boundaries, but are there places where you are holding back from entering into the life of someone God might call you to love well?
What is breaking God’s heart around you that you might partner with Him to change? And what might be breaking God’s heart that’s inside of you?