Warning: I wrote this in an inspired frenzy and now I do not have time to edit. Real sorry to all my English peeps out there.
I'm sipping coffee and reading the news at Panera this morning.
An older gentleman has just come in with his daughter who appears to be in her early 40's. He kind of reminds me of one of the older guys from that HBO Mafia show who used to kill lots of people but now he just smokes cigars in dark corners of bars. He's got a thick Wisconsin accent, bushy white hair, sweat pants, and a crucifix around his neck. She's exotic. Long dark hair and a very thick French accent. Maybe she's not his daughter after all. They sip their coffee quietly- they both seem to be thinking. She speaks up.
"Did you hear about Osama Bin Laden?"
"I don't know. I heard he might be dead or something."
YOU DON"T KNOW? ARE YOU AMERICAN? DO YOU OWN A TV? ARE YOU NOT BASKING IN NATIONAL PRIDE?
"Maybe he is in the mafia," I think to myself.
"Yeah, he's dead, isn't that amazing. They killed him in the middle of the night. He lived in a mansion. I can't believe it. A mansion. It only took forty minutes. Do you think Pakistan knew he was there?"
He's not listening.
"So the radio station I listen to at night, well they have a Sunday morning organic lawn care show. And basically, honey, we are just trapping our families with chemicals. We're just asking to bathe ourselves in cancer. You know you have to get organic fertilizer. You just have to. Otherwise the kids will die," my mafia man is deeply concerned about this organic gardening business. He squints his eyes and he leans across the table- like he is about to disclose national security secrets- and in an agitated whisper he says, "No wonder we're all dying from cancer. I mean it's in all the grass and all around the house and we're just asking to be poisoned. It's a husband and wife. It's their show and they said if you just take a sip of "ortho roundup" you will be dead in 20 minutes. 20 minutes! Then this man calls in to say he started a lawn care business and goes to the supply house and they tell him to buy a rubber suit to wear and a gas mask and rubber gloves and boots and he thinks it's crazy- and get this- they made him sign papers saying he refused to buy any of the chemical protection from them. Well turns out the man only has a year left to live. A YEAR! @*@# *$ *#& (expletive, expletive) corporations. It's all big business. It's what Republicans are doing to the country honey."
Well, I tried to act like I was laughing at something on my computer screen- because I couldn't help but laugh listening to this conversation. Here I think he's straight up in the mafia and all he's concerned with is organic gardening.
My heart is heavy this morning.
Some of you emailed me a few months ago to see where I had gone because I stopped blogging for about a month.
Truth is, I was overwhelmed.
Not with my life or Annie or Ryan or schedules or money or anything like that... I was simply overwhelmed with the brokenness of the world. Every time I would sit to write a blog about one natural disaster, something else would happen. Then something else. Then something else.
I talked about empathy last week- empathy and healing are my spiritual gifts. The Bible says these are gifts given to us by God once we become believers. They mark our lives, our calling, and hopefully they leave a mark on the world we live in. My particular gift is somewhat of a blessing and a curse because it is heavy. I see brokenness and I don't sympathize with it, I empathize. I feel it in my bones and deep in my soul. I grieve for people as if God were in my body grieving through me. And I often find myself deep in prayer and mourning for people who are hurting. (Those with the spiritual gift of empathy and healing must be careful to not allow depression to become confused with the deep emotions that come alongside the practice of these gifts).
You might think that a musician would have a spiritual gift of artistry or leadership or music even... but I have often found myelf on stage watching as people in the audience are healed through music. And every hug I give at the end of the night; every prayer or conversation with someone who needs a friend; well this is the spiritual gift of healing in action. It just happens to come out through music and it exists in unison with the gift of empathy. The blessed curse of deeply taking on the pain of another.
And lately, I have taken on the pains and groans of the world...
So as the rest of the country celebrates the death of Osama Bin Laden- I find my heart rather heavy this morning.
Don't misunderstand me: for a girl who doesn't affirm the death penalty, this is one person whose evil needed to be stopped.
Still, the heaviness of the world fills me up today. The devastation in Alabama and all over the south as tornadoes have robbed people of their loved ones and all their worldly possessions. The Mississippi river, so swollen that either an entire town in Illinois will disappear as the water pours forth or an entire part of the state of Missouri- farmer's livelihood will be flooded to save people. Either way, the loss is great. There is Japan. Families who still can't wrap their minds around the loss they have endured. Thousands wiped off the face of the earth in a wave. The death of Osama means retaliation, perhaps the likes of which we have not seen since 9/11. Our military deployed to Afghanistan are now in greater danger than ever before. Cancer. Job loss.
Need I go on?
Whether on a personal level or global level-
Our world is so broken. So far from what God intended. And something deep in me groans and grieves.
As I sit here in Panera this morning, I'm grateful for the comic relief of an old mafia man who could care less about Osama Bin Laden and is quite simply terrified about the chemicals in his garden.
I meet a lot of people who tell me they are just ready for the end of times to come so they can get out of this world's brokenness. So many who tell me that they don't watch the news because it's just depressing. So many who tell me they are afraid for their kid's futures. And I get it, I really do. I feel it deep in my bones. The pain and fear this world can unleash on us.
But I am reminded, more than ever, of Galations 6:9
And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.
Is our world broken? Yes.
Is that scary and overwhelming sometimes? Yes.
Is the answer to give-up hope, insulate ourselves from the harsh realities, and pray for the end to come?
No. I don't believe it is.
Instead, we do not grow weary in doing good. We do not faint. We do not hide light for the sake of our own personal safety or comforts. We shine brighter. We live harder. We hope more deeply. We choose life that we might live. (Deuteronomy 30:19).
I'm not calling you to grieve for the whole world as I do- that is my spiritual gift (and not the one I would have picked, mind you)- but I am encouraging you today to not lose heart. Instead, look at the brokenness around you and decide today to be light in a dark place. Decide today, that through God's strength, you will not faint. You will not cloister and fear and disappear.
More than ever I pray that God raises up men and women who love him and love math. Science. International politics. Engineering. Research. Disaster relief. Medicine. Adoption. Nursing. Education.
That God raises up a generation of believers who do not pray for the end in the midst of all the suffering, but pray to be used here and now to be a part of keeping His hope alive while we inhabit the earth.
And it's overwhelming. It is. Where do we even begin?
Well, old-man-mafia taught me a huge lesson this morning.
While the whole world is talking Osama Bin Laden, dangit, he is gonna talk about the potential of dying via ortho roundup and other dangerous chemicals that are lurking in the gardens of America!
That's his thing. Organic gardening.
(Really, what's yours? I've done a lot of free online surveys, and have found this one to be the most helpful: spiritual gift survey. You should take a few minutes and do the test yourself.)
It's easy to look at all the things we can't do in response to Japan, Alabama, Tsunami's, military family deployments, soaring cancer rates....
But that would make us faint, wouldn't it?
We gotta start thinking about what we can do.
What CAN WE DO?
What CAN YOU DO?
What is your thing?
You have one, you know.
You do. You have a gift to offer the world. Big or small. You have it. A smile. A gift of hospitality. Being the one man in the office that people can trust to have integrity. Building a house. Helping to find a cure for cancer. Holding orphans. Being a friend to those in your school who are bullied. Writing music that heals. Enforcing security. Getting in your truck and driving to Alabama to help clean-up. Using your abundance of money to put food on the shelves of your local food pantry.
Or maybe it's organic gardening. Maybe your thing is to get the chemicals out of our food and help us- at least us Americans- to become healthy again.
It can be anything, the important thing is that it is something.
What is your gift and how are you using it?
You have a gift and let me tell you, now more than ever, the world needs you to use it.
For the good of humanity and for the glory of God- do not be overwhelmed by brokenness, do not grow weary in doing good sweet friends... please, press on.
You have light inside of you that is begging to be poured out.
The world needs you to shine today-