He sat at our kitchen table and told us a story about bread.
“There was a severe drought. I traveled to the hardest hit regions in my country and people everywhere were starving. There were so many hungry, so many dead. They had no bread to eat,” he said.
“I left the place where there were so many hungry people and I got on a plane to the USA–the same day. I arrived and my host took me to a grocery store from the airport and he asked me to choose the bread I liked for dinner. There were so many loaves. I stood looking at row after row of bread. I told him I could not choose. I was no longer hungry. Because when I closed my eyes, I could still see the hungry.”
I can’t tell you his name or show you his face because it would endanger this great man of faith, but I can tell you that he said those words at my kitchen table where we eat all the bread we want.
How do we tell the hungry of the world, give us our daily bread when we’ve never been hungry and we are sitting at an all-you-can-eat buffet of blessings?
Less than two months ago, I was on the other side of the world at another table of a woman so desperate for bread she sent her 14 year old daughter to sell her body to feed the rest of the family. I vowed to change her life and I’ve been working on it nonstop since I got home. But if I’m really being honest, it didn’t take long for me to get back here and long to break bread at a new table in my dream house. God help me.
A few weeks ago, I sat in a Bible study and listened to the prayer requests around the room and I caught myself thinking about the difference between first and third world prayers and I wondered what in the world God must think? Because in one part of the world I’ve witnessed people begging God for provision for one more day and here at home, I’ve listened to good church folk asking God for more, more, more, not realizing how much they already have.
God created all and loves each of us completely, but if one group isn’t helping the other (and both need help), I don’t know exactly what we are really doing here.
I quickly swallowed down any judgmental thoughts because I realized these good people were just like me–one minute wanting to change the world and the next being changed by it.
We are so distracted.
We are so distracted by our culture of plenty that we feed ourselves all we can yet we walk away empty and unsatisfied.
Two weeks ago, our staff spent the day welcoming an Iraqi refugee family to Houston from a refugee camp. We unpacked kits from Houston Welcomes Refugees and turned their apartment into a home. When a partnering organization delivered furniture, he asked where our group was from, so I told him about Mercy House Global. With tears in his eyes, he told me about the Syrian and Iraqi refugee single moms who were coming to our city and couldn’t both work and care for their babies. He assured me they were prime targets of trafficking in my own city.
It shook me to the core with a desire to do something to provide these women with jobs.
If the “wanting to do something” was the same as “doing something” we would all be a Mother Teresa. But somewhere between the want to and the follow thru, we are distracted by something shiny or blinking or our own first world problems. Just this week, in our house we’ve had pipes break and toilets overflow, a dog who ate a retainer and cars in repair and hey, before you know it, I’m preaching to the choir and I still haven’t done a thing.
“We so want the Christian life to be reasonable, but it is not. To give a little or even a lot is the same as giving nothing at all. The life hid with Christ in God will be everything or it will be nothing,” JD Walt.
Lately, I’ve been trying to convince people to just share what they have been given so we can respond immediately to needs. And then I read this and realized I was getting it all wrong: this isn’t about sharing our lives; it’s about surrendering them.
Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. John 12:24-25
“The un-surrendered life is the same thing as the unplanted seed—a waste. Why on earth would we go another day holding on to the tiny seed of our life. It’s time to sow our small, fragile selves into the field of God’s dream for our lives. What if the little boy had shared his five loaves and two fish with the crowd? How far would it have gone? Exactly nowhere. Instead, look what happened when he surrendered all he had to Jesus. Precisely unimaginable. We think the Gospel is about sharing our lives with others, as though a seed could be shared. No, it’s about surrendering our lives to Jesus, who will make of our lives an unending, unimaginable gift to the world. Sharing will never get it done. Only surrender will.” (Seedbed)
I’ve never been hungry for food. I’ve never been desperate for bread. At least not like the poor of the world.
But I am hungry and I am desperate. I am starving for something more than this world offers and I’m desperate to resist distractions. This isn’t just about sharing our bread; it’s about surrounding it.
Who will join me?
If you’re looking for an invitation to respond in a tangible way, we need monthly donors at Mercy House so we can meet monthly expenses in Kenya. We are asking God for an army of people who will help us help women who long to provide daily bread.