I don't understand why some folks who never should be parents can have five bazillion kids and some of the best parents in the world can't conceive?
I don't understand why some of the most precious children in the world are abused and abandoned by parents that never deserved such a precious gift?
I don't understand why it is so hard to protect vulnerable children and prevent their mistreatment and abuse?
I don't understand how someone can go ballistic over having to wait in line at the fast food place or become irate over poor service at a restaurant and not get upset about the millions of children who go to bed hungry, abused, or caught up in slavery in the world sex trade?
These are not theoretical questions for me. They involve who I am, those I love, and the children Donna and I are working with this week in Peru. These are real, personal, time spent in prayer with the Father kind of questions that don't have easy answers. They are questions that will be recurring in our hearts again and again over the next couple of years if God gives us these years.
Yet even though I don't understand these questions, I still believe. I don't let these questions derail my everyday faith and certainly not my commitment to do what God has given me the opportunity to do. And this brings me to the current little saga of what is going on in my world and why Donna and I are in Peru this week.
Today was our first day spent in a sort of Bible School with 3-6 year old little girls who have come from harsh backgrounds and unspeakably difficult circumstances. I also am spending the afternoon with much older children as they learn to read English using the Gospel of Luke and discussing what they read. They, too, have had unspeakably difficult lives and are determined to overcome the roadblocks and challenges they have had to face.
Of course, on a day so important to kick off the week with both age groups, the devil threw a kink or two into the works. I've grown accustomed to the evil one's opposition to every kingdom advance in which I am blessed to participate, so I wasn't surprised. Things had gone too smoothly up this point. So we had a little blowback toward our work here. First, the buses were late to take us to the community. I am not talking 5-10 minutes late, but 35-55 minutes late! Wow, talk about frustrating. This delay threw everything off track and made it very trying. But, different folks pitched in, did different things to make the situation work and the 900 children of The Community largely didn't notice the problems.
Second, there was confusion about everything our small team working with the young adults connected with The Community was supposed to do. We didn't know where to meet. We didn't know who our students would be. We didn't know where or when they would show up. It was frustrating, especially for those who had none of these young adults read with them, but for those of us who did, WOW, what a blessing!
We know there will be some hiccups tomorrow (tomorrow, as I write this, is Tuesday — I am posting these too late in the day to make to the web until a day late), but we also know that the Father's good work will triumph in the lives of these children and those working with them.
So as I come to the end of another very long day, I still have some things I don't get, but I do understand some important things that I stake my life upon!
Our Father in heaven — our Father knows and cares!
Hallowed be Your name — our Father is beyond us and above us, but came to reveal himself to us in Jesus.
Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven — my heart must yearn for God's reign, God's family character, to extend to more and more people through us.
Give us this day, our daily bread — we depend upon our Father for our daily needs, confidently know he will supply our needs.
Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors — we are called to act and love and forgive others in the same way we trust and pray that God will act and love and forgive us.
And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil — we are vulnerable to the temptations and assaults of the evil one, but if we are called to live out the Father's kingdom, he can and will deliver us.
For yours is the kingdom and power and glory, forever and ever. Amen. — our Father's will and work will triumph over all that is evil and unjust, so we will align ourselves with his will and work for his justice in our broken world until he steps in to change it.
So we are in Peru, trying to be tangible representatives of our Father's grace, seeking to extend the influence of his kingdom, and doing our best to help others know the love our Father has for all of his children. I don't get everything — not even all the important things. But I do understand this: God sent Jesus to show us his love.
When God wanted to most fully express himself, he did not send a letter, a prophet, a special revelation, or a strange and unique sign in the heavens to demonstrate his love, but the Father sent his Son (Hebrews 1:1-3). So if God decided that his love and his message had to be clothed in human skin and demonstrated to be believed, then somewhere along the way, I must be the human skin definition of the Father's love to those who do not know him (1 John 3:16-18). If I am not, then what I pray each day in the Lord's Prayer is just nothing more than a religious collection of nice words that I say to make me feel better.
So on Monday, we worked with little children helping them know the story of baby Jesus being born to Joseph and Mary. But it was more than a story about Jesus; it was also our demonstration of God's concern for children who need our tangible love as much as they need our spoken story. Both are important, but just as the incarnation — the birth of baby Jesus as God's presence among us (Matthew 1:23) — shows us, the message needs to be clothed in human skin.
And so I understand this: I am called to be that skin. It's really that simple.