One of the reasons I brought my 12 -year -old daughter, Addisyn, with me on the mission trip to Guatemala was because I thought it would be a good idea for her to really see, first hand, how most of the world lives. You know, sort of shock her- make her realize how she has so much. I thought I'd teach her not to be asking for so much- like preteen age girls are known for doing. But God knows we are like that ... like when we sit in church and think to ourselves- "oh boy I wish so and so was here to hear THIS sermon" that is when God hits us right between the eyes and teaches us.
I was at Walmart today with my boys. (I have this love/hate relationship with Walmart but that is a whole other story). Anyway- we were exchanging something for a different size and as I waited in line behind all the others who were making their returns and exchanges- the carts lined up from wall to wall caught my attention. They were sitting there filled to the rim with returns- most likely doubles of gifts people already have- or gifts people didn't really want. God used that moment to draw me back... to remind me of our time in Guatemala, like I had prayed He would. Lord, please change me, please let me always remember...
I have been to Guatemala several times now- 2 times to bring home our girls, one time to visit Mya while she was still at the orphanage, and the 4th time for our missions trip to Eagles Nest Orphanage. Of course bringing home our girls was one of the most amazing experiences of my life- but the mission trip- it was life changing. Not only because we held, diapered, sang to and fell in love with the orphans- but also because this was the first chance I had ever really been given to love the people outside of the orphanage. By the end of the week over 400 Guatemalan children and mothers attended the Vacation Bible school we put on. I remember sitting in one of the pews one day and in walked this group of children. I'm not sure why this particular group of kids touched my heart so much- maybe it was because they were dirty from head to toe... but really most of them were. Maybe it was because one of the little girls reminded me of my daughter Aleigha. Although, I saw her beauty in a lot of the little girls. I think though the real reason was because underneath the dirt and aside from the beauty- I saw HOPE and real JOY ... and it touched me to the core. How does one carry on when they have so little yet still have hope and joy ? When life has dealt them- even at such young ages- more difficulties than I will probably ever have to face in my American Life. It was then that I realized- they came, they walked in shoes too small, sometimes carrying younger siblings because of the hope and joy in Jesus. REAL hope. REAL joy. You see- real hope and real joy do not come from material items. "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heave, where mother and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Mathew 6: 19-21 Real hope and real joy come from God and God alone.
Those Walmart carts were overflowing with things that many of us thought would bring joy to someone else... and there they sat, cart after cart full, being returned. We missed the point. We had given the things that we all already have anyway- too much stuff- and no where to store it. (Hint: all storage bins go on sale after Christmas for a reason) I began to wondered to myself- had I this Christmas, even once, stopped to share the gift of real hope and joy to anyone? Had I shared Jesus with anyone? Or did I rush through the store, piling things in my cart, trying to give my own kids all the latest things and the coolest toys? Sure we went to church, sure we sang Happy Birthday to Jesus on Christmas day, and sure we did our daily prayers. But I can't help but shake the feeling that I still clung to the thought that I could 'buy' joy.
As I sat in the pew that day I remember feeling sorry for those children because they didn't possess all the 'things' I do... but I had it all wrong. They sat in their pew singing to Jesus, eager to learn more about their Lord. Their hope and joy had nothing to do with things that money could buy. I pray that I will learn to be just like them- eager to learn more about Jesus and content with what He has given to me.
Lord, please let me have faith like a child.