Saturday, July 31, 2010

Have less, Need God more, See God more

There’s a common observation I’ve made amongst team members that come to Haiti (including myself). Many of them say that they enjoy coming to Haiti to get away from the distractions at home; when they’re here, they can see God so much more. One girl from this past team described it as a “spiritual detox” for her every year- to re-examine herself, see what needs to go, get rid of it, and see God more clearly. I have to agree that I see God more clearly here too. But why is that? We serve the same God whether here or in the States, so why do our circumstances or location affect how clearly we see God? This was the conclusion I came to yesterday: There is so much less here that we can’t depend on our resources or conveniences to get us through; all we’re left with is God, and when we realize we need God more, we see God more. Let me give you some examples from my perspective (keeping in mind my resources here in Haiti and what I have is far greater than the Haitians around me so how much more must they [Christians] be relying on God?):
  • Things I first saw as junk here I’m now seeing as gold: plastic bags from the grocery store. At home, we save them until they take up half a closet and then pitch them because of the nuisance they’ve become. I have had to keep my eyes open for plastic bags this summer because I didn’t bring anything to carry my things around. And yesterday, we needed to tie shoes together so pairs wouldn’t get separated in the shoe pantry; solution: tear plastic bags, that we had just designated as “trash” because they had holes in them, into strips to use as ties.
  • Large pill bottles become water bottles.
  • Paper doesn’t enter the trash until both sides of it are completely full; where else where you write notes? I came across a notepad for Christi the other day- she was so excited!
  • Junky boxes when unfolded become a mattress to lie on or a corner of it becomes a fan for church.
  • Empty plastic juice bottles become Tupperware and empty tin cans can be used as containers or recycled to make graters, musical instruments, or who knows what else.
  • One minute I see a dirty pen cap on the ground; the next minute, I see a brand new whistle for a little boy as he blows through one end of it.

A tote bag, a water bottle, sticky notes, a simple place to sleep, storage containers (for all of our STUFF), toys…These are all so commonplace, things we have in abundance, or things that seem essential. We don’t think twice about them. When we need a plastic bag, we go get one from the closet. When out water bottle gets a little worn, we go buy a new one. When we can’t find the matching Tupperware lid after 2 minutes, we get frustrated and go buy a new stack of Gladware. When our toys stop working, we trash it and then go buy the newest latest and greatest. We do all of this without thinking, without hesitation.

Here, it’s different. When you find a piece of paper with a blank back side- keep it; you’re going to need it soon; thank you, Jesus! An old piece of paper or a small piece of cardboard becomes a fan! Praise the Lord! So simple, but so beneficial! I can’t begin to count the number of times I have needed something so small, something that at home, it would be nothing to go get it or buy it, but here, when I spot it or something that could work for what I need, it becomes a treasure- thank you Jesus! I know this is a gift from You!

When you have less, you begin to understand Jesus more. “The Rich Young Man” (Mk. 10:17-31) turned away sad when Jesus told him that in order to inherit eternal life, he should sell everything he had so he could follow Jesus. The rich man walked away sad realizing all he would have to give up. “The Widow’s Offering” (Mk. 12:41-44) was worth more than what the rich men gave. She had almost nothing but gave everything she had. She gave without thought, without contemplation, without hesitation. It was instinct; it was natural; it was right. How do we become like that? We live with less because then we need God more. When we need God more, we see God more. When we see God more, we understand God more. When we understand God more, we know God more. When we know God more, we need God more.

1 comment:

  1. I love this! I sometimes think I now know more Africans (from all parts of Africa) than I do Americans now. One thing they often say is it's harder to be a Christian in the U.S because of distractions and lack of "need" for God. When the Africans I know meet others who are new to the U.S., they usually warn them to guard their faith carefully because it is too easy to work too hard, chase the next toy, etc. Also, instead of only having God to turn to when there is no food to eat, so many times here you can just pick up another shift, earn more, become more busy, and have less time for God.

    We are SO blessed in this country, but so many of our brothers and sisters who lack what we take for granted also have spiritual blessings that out weigh and out last any material blessing we can imagine. You summed it up so beautifully "We live with less because then we need God more. When we need God more, we see God more. When we see God more, we understand God more. When we understand God more, we know God more. When we know God more, we need God more." Beautifully put. We could all use a spiritual detox :) You're such a beautiful, wonderful, mature woman of God. I'm so proud of you! --Nichole Kyeremeh (I've forgotten my google account and cannot log in!)