I Want to Live a More Radical Life
There’s a new commercial out by Colgate that tells us how much we waste if we let the water run while brushing our teeth. There are pictures of dirty hands washing fruit and a little girl taking a drink in her hands, as if we somehow help people in third world countries by not letting our water run. While I agree it’s wasteful to let our water run, let’s not delude ourselves into somehow thinking we are helping others get water by not letting our water run.
It’s much like our grandparents when they said, “Finish your supper. There are starving children in the world.” How does my finishing my supper and not wasting it help a child in a third world country?
I think that is the problem with today. We believe we are doing something when we turn off the water, eat less, drive a more gas efficient car, throw some money in the offering plate, and take can goods to a food pantry. I am not saying these things don’t matter. I’m saying we can’t delude ourselves into thinking we are doing something big.
We need to think more radically.
My work with Love Without Boundaries has opened my eyes to what it truly means to live in poverty. I once believed that I lived in poverty. We had limited food. We often ran out of toilet paper. We were hungry, didn’t know where our next paycheck was coming from, and couldn’t scrap up the money to eat out, BUT we had a roof over our head, even if the walls were concrete and the roaches were plentiful in that rental; we had a bed to sleep in at night, even if it was a mattress on the floor, and extended family that helped out when they could.
We never lived in a hut with no running water or a toilet. We never ate one meal of rice a day or walked two hours to get dirty water. We never worried about whether or not we could go to school. We never dug through a trash heap hoping to find food to eat or recycling material that would buy food.
I recently saw this going around on Facebook. I can’t back up the facts, but it sounds about right.
If you have food in your fridge, clothes on your back, a roof over your head and a place to sleep you are richer than 75% of the world.
If you have money in the bank, your wallet, and some spare change you are among the top 8% of the world’s wealthy.
If you woke up this morning with more health than illness you are more blessed than the thousands of people who will not survive this week.
If you have never experienced the danger of battle, the agony of imprisonment or torture, or the horrible pangs of starvation you are luckier than 500 million people alive and suffering.
If you can read this message you are more fortunate than 3 billion people in the world who cannot read it at all.
We are rich! We are a blessed nation and yet we complain about wanting/needing more. I did it. I still do it. I live in a big, beautiful house and still look at realty sites and dream about a bigger home as if it is somehow better. I have to remind myself constantly that more debt isn’t better. Bigger isn’t necessarily better. That more bedrooms doesn’t change anything. I DON’T need more. I’ve just been conditioned to believe that striving for more, that bigger and better is where it’s all at, after all it is the American dream.
I know there are those that think Dan and I live somewhat radically. We’ve given up our retirement. We’ve taken in kids with pretty big needs. We’ve given up sleep and paid so much money in medical bills that it makes my head spin, BUT what have we really done? Not much. Really! I’m not just saying this. I truly believe it. What have we really done? We took the chance on loving some kids who have made our lives unbelievably amazing. It doesn’t seem like such a hardship.
Yes, we share bedrooms. Yes, we share toys and hand down clothes. Yes, we will have to wonder about college and will have to work to figure it out. Yes, we have given up vacations. Yes, we drive a bus, but in the grand scheme of things it doesn’t amount to much. I still live comfortably. I can still go to the store and buy whatever food I want. I can go out to eat. I can buy a new outfit. My kids can go to school. I have a car to drive. I can pay for the gas that makes it run.
My heart hurts knowing I could do more. My heart hurts for all of those who could change their lives with just a few of my dollars. My heart hurts for parents who will leave their child outside an orphanage in hopes they can get the medical treatment they need. My heart hurts for the children who will die from starvation and diseases from drinking dirty water. My heart hurts for children who will die in an orphanage.
Sometimes the need is so overwhelming that I want to go back to when I didn’t know. Sometimes I want to go back to when I sat in my house, comfortable and warm, and the most I had to think about was whether or not I could pay my bills on time. But that would make me indifferent. Indifferent and comfortable are two words that I don’t want to be associated with my name. I want to die knowing I did everything I could. I want to die trusting fully on God and doing as much good as I can. Not because that will somehow make me a good person worthy of God’s love. God loves me anyway. I want to live radically because it is what God commands us to do.
“But God doesn’t call us to be comfortable. He calls us to trust Him so completely that we are unafraid to put ourselves in situations where we will be in trouble if He doesn’t come through.” – Francis Chan
I’m feeling much too comfortable. How about you?
I am not indifferent now but I once was…
And that needs to change.