Monday, April 12, 2010

I wanted to punch God in the face.....

Our van bounced down a bumpy dirt road into a small Ugandan village. We pulled up in front of a shoddy building where several small children were wandering in the street. The children ran to us and hugged as we stepped out of our vehicle.

The embankment to the building was steep and muddy, so we walked carefully amongst the throng of children who were now encircling us. There faces were bright and their smiles were captivating. I hadn’t imagined such a warm welcome from these little ones because I had heard the rumors: rumors of starvation and sickness and corruption. But nothing prepared me for what I was about to encounter.

It was soon realized that a 12 yr. old girl had been brutally beaten and gang raped, to the point that she needed immediate medical attention. It was revealed that girls as young as 11 and 12 years old were raped and abused on a regular basis by men and boys (including those who ran the orphanage). The children with smiling faces who were clinging to us and so happy to see us had not eaten in 8 days.

You read that correctly; they had not eaten in 8 days, unless you count bugs, grass, and poop as food.

Let me be clear here: Any money that was received by the orphanage for food and to care for the children was pocketed by the “directors” (who were not necessarily even on site) and used for their own personal gain; the same directors who were raping and pillaging the children. These are the same people, that when a child died of illness or starvation, would throw the little bodies into the fire pit and let them burn away as if they never existed.

While we were there several children were sick and in bed, awaiting a death sentence. Also, a five-year-old boy collapsed into the arms of a teammate. The orphanage staff told us that he did not need medical attention. Tell that to a bunch of mama bears. We took him to a medical clinic and were told that he was dying of starvation, malaria, anemia, and worms. He might not make it through the night.

I was filled with so many emotions, as you can imagine. But one thing was for sure. I wanted to punch God right in the face. When I was alone I cried out to Him, shaking my fists in the air “Hello?!? What the heck?!?! Do you see what’s happening here?!?! How can you let this go on?!?!? Where is Justice?!?!?”

As I dropped to my knees in a sobbing heap on the floor, God lead me to some passages in scripture. One was this:

Habakkuk 2:9-11 (New Living Translation)

9 “What sorrow awaits you who build big houses with money gained dishonestly! 
 You believe your wealth will buy security, 
 putting your family’s nest beyond the reach of danger. 
 10 But by the murders you committed, 
 you have shamed your name and forfeited your lives. 
 11 The very stones in the walls cry out against you, 
 and the beams in the ceilings echo the complaint.

And verse 16 (NIV) says: “ Now it is your turn! Drink and be exposed! The cup from the Lord’s right hand is coming around to you, and disgrace will cover your glory.”

God let me know that He saw what was going on and those deeds would not go unpunished by Him, the Righteous Judge. He was in control. He was working on it. And I know these things because I cried out to Him, and He answered me. Jeremiah 33:3 says this: “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.”

God is big enough to take our anger. He’s big enough to take our hurts. I don’t think He minds when we shake our fists at Him and cry out “Why?!” There are many stories in the Bible of people who were hurt, broken, and disappointed and when they cried out to God, He answered them.

So tell Him. Tell Him that you just want to punch Him in the face. Bear your soul. He will listen and love you through it. And then be ready for His answer.

Stayed tuned to hear what He told me to do next.

Friday, April 09, 2010

For Real?

Authenticity has always been important to me. I like to see people for who they really are, when their guard is down and their masks are off. I think in this American culture we live in we can find many facades to hide behind. It’s just too easy to be someone you’re not. Our culture says that our career defines us. Our house defines us. The kind of car we drive defines us. They way our children behave defines us *snort*. I could go on and on but basically the American picture of “success” defines us.

But is this who we really are? When we’ve had a long day and are worn out and tired; when our house is a mess and the breakfast dishes are still in the sink; when our kids are fighting and whining; when our spouse is on our last nerve, when our job sucks and we think that God could care less about our situation; who are we really at the end of the day?

We are exactly the person that God loves and wants to know. When we are raw and weak and feel like punching God in the face, we are the person that God wants to talk to and use.

Shiny, happy people dressed in their Sunday best with (assumedly) perfect lives aren’t doing us any favors. People who hide behind the reality of their hurts and struggles and fears actually do a major disservice to the God who created them, who wants to use their brokenness to reach a fallen world. The Apostle Paul said, “If I have to brag, I will brag about how weak I am. His strength is made perfect in my weakness.” Galatians 6:3 says, “If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.”

Be real. Be honest. Be yourself. If we are real and authentic and talk about our struggles and weaknesses, it gives others hope that God can use them too.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

After being sidetracked.....

It’s been a while since I’ve spurted off about anything. The truth is, I’ve been a little gun-shy about blogging these days. Some of my previous posts were met with some harsh criticism. Of course I don’t mind criticism, when it’s meant constructively and in love. What really threw me (and continues to throw me) for a loop is the anger, resentment, and need to slander, that some people are feeling justified in doing.

I realize that my ideas about church and Christianity may be a little different than status quo. I’m a passionate person and what I believe in, I believe in strongly. But I strive to be always learning, always growing, and always searching. Never have I claimed to have “all the answers” or claimed to be “sinless”; quite the opposite.

But through this painful trial I have again realized that God made me who I am for a reason. He gave me a passionate heart and a big voice. God continues to prod me to write the things that are on my heart (with an extra measure of discretion from Him) and to speak out about the things He’s called me to speak out about.

And although I will proceed with caution, I will be obedient to God’s call to tell the world what He wants me to tell. I am a messenger, after all. (Isaiah 18:2)

**Oh and please visit Anne Jackson's blog by clicking on her name or the box on the upper right. She is in Moldova and Russia digging into the heart of the sex-trafficking industry. Please read and keep her and the team in your prayers. Thanks!