Wednesday, January 23, 2008

A Spit In The Ocean

I’m reading a book that was given to be by my good friends Derek and Connie. The irresistible revolution is written by Shane Claiborne - a person I admire for his courage and willingness to do more that talk about living out his faith.
Here’s a brief sampling....

Most Christian artists and preachers have remained strangely distant from human suffering, offering the world eternal assurance over prophetic imagination. Meanwhile, many of us find ourselves estranged fron the narrow issues that define conservatives and the shallow spirituality that marks liberals. We are thirsty for social justice and peace but have a hard time finding a faith community that is consistently pro-life or that recognizes that there are "moral issues" other than homosexuality and abortion; moral issues like war and poverty. So some folks just end up trying to save individual souls from their sins and others end up trying to save the world from the "system". But rarely do we see that the sickness of our world has infected each of us, and that the healing of our world not only begins within us but does not end with us.
"I am alone, surrounded by unbelieving activists and inactive believers."

Some people do a great job of refining and expressing the muddy thoughts I’ve had floating around inside my skull. Shane is one of those guys. I’m frustrated by my own inability to connect the real gospel with the real world. As a born and bred evangelical I’m cloned to treat the world as if we can solve all the world’s problems by reading the Four Spiritual Laws.
I’m coming to believe that sharing, "God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life" is a paraphrase of James 2:16 ("Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,"). We are missing a huge part of the Gospel when we fail to combine both the life giving Word and life giving bread (or shelter, clothing, clean water, etc).

I’m not exactly sure where this ends up, but I’m on an exploration of what it means. We are going to be partnering with an elementary school that experiences a 70% poverty rate. We are also working with a clearing house of material needs to the poor of Lansing. It’s not enough, but it is a start.

Last year when I went to New Orleans to work on Katrina relief, I got a taste of what it was like to try to do something, but to feel like it was woefully short of adequate. Using an expression I picked up from Marcia’s side of the family, I said to one of the two homeowners we assisted, "I feel like all we’ve been able to do to help down here is a spit in the ocean." To which they replied with an emotion filled voice, "Thanks for coming to spit in our ocean". I guess I just need to say, I don’t want to get paralyzed by the size of the need. I can’t do everything, but I can do something. And I will - as God leads....

Any thoughts?


jen thompson said...

keep on spittin' chris!

small things done with great love can and WILL make a big difference! :)

JustinJNierer said...

Spitting is a bad habit.

Anonymous said...

Amidst the morning mist of the swift returning tide
I set out on my daily run, my walkman on my side.
Lost within my private world apart from cares and woes
I ran along the moistened shore, the sand between my toes.

In the distance I saw a boy, as busy as can be.
He was running, stooping, picking up, and tossing in the sea.
Just what he threw, I couldn't tell, I looked as I drew near.
It seemed to be a rock or shell - as I approached him I could hear:

"Back you go, where you belong. You're safe now, hurry home.
Your family's waiting for you. Little starfish, hurry on!"
It seemed the evening tide had washed the starfish on the shore,
And the swift receding water left a thousand there or more.

And this self-appointed savior, was trying one-by-one
To toss them back into the sea, against the racing sun.
I saw his plight was hopeless, that most of them would die.
I called out from my private world, "Hey Kid, why even try?"

Must be at least a thousand here, strewn along the beach,
And even if you had the time, most you'll never reach.
You really think it makes a difference, to waste your time this way?"
And then I paused and waited, just to hear what he would say.

The words that he spoke to me cut like a surgeon's knife.
Where I saw only numbers, he saw only life.
He didn't see the multitude of starfish on the sand.
He only saw the little life he held there in his hand.

He stopped and took another, and looked me in the eye.
"It makes a difference to this one sir, this starfish will not die!"
With that, he tossed the little life back where there was hope.
He stooped to take another, I could tell this was no joke

He didn't stop to argue and prove that he was right,
But just kept throwing starfish in the sea with all his might.
So I too stooped and picked one up and threw it in the sea.
And I thought, what a difference that this boy has made in me.

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