Thursday, December 01, 2005

Hungry


Sometimes it’s a lot easier to be selfish and superficial than it is to be compassionate and selfless… especially when you don’t even know you’re doing it.

For so much of my life I sang worship songs and prayed with the sense that I wasn’t getting enough Jesus. With the most heartfelt desire I would worship… it was more of a prayer really; a prayer that God would just let me see Him or feel Him. I was well intentioned and beyond that I truly believed that that’s what it was all about; ME getting more of HIM. I’d sing “I want to know you…” or “you are my all in all…” or “open the eyes of my heart…” all the while being desperate for a glimpse, a touch of God and all the while having no perspective of how much of Jesus I already had.

I had no Idea how good I had it.

Today in my Adolescent Development and Family Ministry class a group of students presented their research on ‘sex trafficking.’ Their information was startling. Hundreds of thousands of children are sold around the world for sex or slavery. We watched a video of children in a brothel in Cambodia, being sold for the pleasure of old men; many from America. Watching their innocent faces and listening to their voices refer to oral sex as “yum-yum;” what did these children do to deserve this kind of neglect, this kind of treatment.

I walked away from class confused for some reason, perhaps because I felt nothing or perhaps by the very question of why. Right after class my friend Danny and I met with Ashley and we went in to chapel. I couldn’t get those poor little girls out of my head. I was lost.

As we began to go through the motions which is hard not to do when you go to chapel three times a week the son “we are Hungry” began to play.

We are Hungry,
We are Hungry,
We are Hungry for more of You.

As we sang my thoughts left Azusa Pacific University, my own endeavors, my own wants and stayed with the children of Cambodia. I realized that in all those moments of singing in desperation; praying that I could have more of God I never really understood how much of Him I really had. I was sitting in a million dollar gymnasium, wearing new clothes, with a stomach full of great food, in a culture that still wants more. I’ve grown up in this culture, the more culture, where nothing is really enough and if I’m not driven or making progress or getting higher on the food chain then I’m not even alive. This culture has infiltrated the Church and now in that moment I realized that it had left me not as an exception. I still, with all that I have, want more. Look around you… do you not see Jesus, do you not see what God has done? What kind of clothes are you wearing? Are you sitting in a air conditioned room? A heated room? Is there not food in your stomach are there no clothes on your back? Did you shower this morning? What did you eat today? Do you know if you’ll eat tomorrow?

We’re not hungry, we’re not poor. We eat or drink at will and at times we decide not to. How can a country that starves itself, though it has an abundance of food in order to look good or indulges itself beyond its health ever say it is hungry? Today I understood why Jesus wept.

Jesus didn’t weep because He lacked hope. Jesus wept because He felt the pain of His friends who were mourning.

Jesus wept.

As I sat in my seat, mumbling those words “we are hungry, we are hungry…” I was, for the first time in my life, longing not for the touch of the God who’s touched me so, but to feel the pain of those who really are hungry. I wanted what no one could logically want; to weep as Jesus wept on behalf of those whose pain is beyond what I will ever feel. My prayer this morning was not that I could have more but that the pain in Cambodia would be relieved. I longed to stand in their place, the dark places of the world not with arrogant declaration of some abstract answer to all the problems of the world but to wrap my arms around the least of these and bear their pain. I sang on their behalf.

The poorest children in America are among the wealthiest people of the world. Their lives are hard but it shadows in the light of the hardship of the least of these.

If you can just stop and look around you you’ll see how much of God America already has. Could it use more? Of course, if for nothing else to teach what to do with how much we already have.

On behalf of those who hunger we sing “we are hungry for more of You.” If the rich could relive the pain of the poor with only the empathy to try, would there be enough?

This morning my heart wept for the least of these, the marginalized, the slaves, and the oppressed with the pathetic tears of understatement due to a lack of understanding, lack of perspective, lack of empathy. If only the tears of the first on behalf of the last were adequate to relive their pain there would be far too few tears.

6 comments:

jeff said...

dang!

I remember a day when I was in my car listening to "Open the Eyes of My Heart". The message of seeing God really struck a chord with me, that day. All I wanted was to see God.

Not long after that, I walked into a clothing store to buy a shirt or something. The 'guy' behind the counter was dressed as a women... hair, makeup, the whole works. I must say, I was disgusted by it all. He was very kind. But, I noticed that he wouldn't look me in the eye. 'All-the-better', I thought. This he/she cross-dresser was creeping me out anyway!

I got in my car, and resumed my prayer-- "Open the eyes of my heart, Lord. I want to see You".

He spoke, ever so gently to my heart, "You just did see Me".

Immediately, I got it. That cross-dressing freak (as I saw him) was the least-of-these God I had been looking for.

Wes, God made that song come alive to you. Those precious, pitiful children are the least-of-these-Jesus...

I'm still not sure what it all means, but I know it makes me much more thankful for my own life... and gives me more of a burden to pray for the injustice of the world. (Man. That sounds so fake, doesn't it...)

Dude, you've got me thinking today...

Thanks for posting this.

WES ELLIS said...

thanks for the great story Jeff.

Ashley said...

I am so excited to hear that you had this happen in your life. I pray that this fire will not die within you. I have a question, not targeted at you, but more for everyone. So many times we have these experiences, where we suddenly feel as though we have got it. But then what happens the next day? And the day after that? Why do we forget? What our heart was so passionate about, we forget about. Where our heart ached for these faces are suddenly aching because someone did something against us. How can we be so selfish and so self centered. I am excited for you and I pray you do not forget.

Ashley said...

I want to apoligize if I sounded over negative, check out my latest post, it might make more sense.

Daniel said...

A thoughtful post. Very Insightful!

Kim said...

Great post! I'm praying for God to continue to speak to you -- this is right on! The pastor of Vineyard Community Church in Aliso Viejo has a ministry in Cambodia -- I know a number of people who go there every year. I understand that the love you are experiencing is for all exploited and abused children everywhere, all impoverished people -- not just in Cambodia -- but I thought you may be interested in following the eyes of your heart to this location.

I used to work in a group home with girls who were removed from their home of origin due to severe abuse or neglect. Their stories broke my heart and got under my skin -- they changed my life. (or perhaps God changed my life through them.)

You are in my prayers -- blessings, KimJ.