We had a great Independence Day in Moab – but I feel like we’ve been celebrating and enjoying America all year! Now more than ever we know that America is SO beautiful, so diverse, and is full of amazing people, places, and opportunities. As I share pictures from our 4th of July (enduring a hot hot hot hike to Sand Dune, Broken, and Tapestry Arches… enjoying the pool…and watching fireworks), I wanted to share some thoughts on America.
My (volunteer!) work with World Vision over the last 6 years has certainly deepened my appreciation to be born an American and at the same time made me wrestle with our culture of affluence and materialism (which both can quickly lead to spiritual and relational poverty). As a family we have asked and discussed frequently, “what does having Gods favor mean?” … “how does God define rich?” … “does God love His people born in America more than His people in an impoverished nation?”…. “did we earn the right to be born in America?”
The answers to these questions and our study of money in the worldwide church made us well up with thankfulness at His grace and how privileged we are…and broke our hearts for the disparity worldwide. This is what a global perspective does.
That thankfulness made us want to show our thanks by obeying Him! We wanted to obey His commands to be part of His economy and share what we have been given! Our tangible gifts are for us to enjoy, yes!…but much was also given to our hands so that we could have the pleasure of passing it on to those who need it.
We are so privileged to be born Americans and with privilege comes great responsibility.
Fast forward to September 2018… The Lord truly flooded us with His love through His people. It was overwhelming and beautiful and we are forever thankful. And He also used us during the flood to be such a pass- through for His provision. We want to stay in that pass-through place! Being His channel in those weeks was truly one of the biggest blessings of our lives and very impactful. We felt His closeness and favor and heard His voice and guidance so clearly. We loved being in that flow!!!
The flood itself also deepened the convictions we developed through World Vision and my trip to Uganda. We saw that during one of our “worst” experiences, we still had more resources and access to those resources than most of the world’s population have on their “best” day. Our emergency that caused massive attention and response was just the daily life of many millions of children and families. Needing water, food, clothes, supplies, physical assistance, toilets… all while physically suffering and having no air conditioning, cell service or luxuries.
Seeing 44 households worth of “stuff” sitting on the front lawns of our neighborhood piled a story high…. and then being taken away with a claw to a dump… was certainly a perspective lifter. It all ends up there.
It made Brandon and I both reflect a lot on where our true treasures lie. And how unimportant things end up being.
We are focused on storing up our treasures in heaven. (Check out Matthew 6) Does that mean we won’t have treasures here on earth!? Of course not. I believe the Lord delights in us enjoying and taking care of special things on earth. Just like a good earthly Father does! But certainly our spending patterns and storing-up patterns have (I hope) been forever altered.
I think about our experiences from the last 6 months on the road: time spent being content and present with our family… laughing hysterically at animals and their antics… being teary eyed and silenced by nature’s beauty… celebrations as we feel the triumph of conquering mountains together… there really isn’t a toy or “thing” that compares.
And yet…. even these moments and experiences pale in comparison to the joy of the Lord and knowing Him…the treasures found in Him now …. and the ones that await for us to have for eternity.
I pray we can somehow plant small seeds in others to have a global perspective and try to understand how fortunate we really are. And also to truly look for ways to take a little less and give a little more, live below our means, and desire to be in the flow of His love and generous heart.
Perhaps so much of the hurts pains and suffering in this world is because some of His children are holding on too tight to what wasn’t supposed to be theirs to keep? I’m not talking about a dollar amount and we can’t judge what this means for others…. it’s between us and the Lord!
I think of the numerous people we’ve met on this adventure so far who came to America (from Cambodia, Romania, Turkey) with nothing but thankfulness, determination, a willingness to sacrifice, and an ability to think long term… their stories are remarkable but not unique. All of America is made of stories like this. I love meeting these first generation Americans and how they love to share their testimonies with confidence and boldness. I wish their stories were told all over the place and frequently!
Its hard now not to think about our border crisis and mention it. I have my own thoughts on the heart-wrenching realities of our border and why it’s happening….. but there are people who are closer to the situation than I am that should be the experts. I believe it’s more complex than any of my comments could give justice to. But enough words about it. What’s the point of an opinion unless it leads to action? So what can an average American actually do? Maybe sharing what we’ve been thinking can give an idea:
- Above all — if the Lord has broken your heart over this particular situation, then pray, care, and don’t shut it out or try to avoid that pain. We can’t care deeply about everything but there are certain and specific things that the Lord will break your heart over and He allows it for a reason. Pay attention to what breaks your heart and talk to Him!
- Long term — Seek to sponsor (or find sponsors for) children in the countries where most refugees/ immigrants are coming from. (Such as Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador). When communities can help themselves through World Vision’s amazing development model, people don’t leave. They can stay with their families and communities like they actually want to – or they can make the choice to go elsewhere legally, in planned time. When communities are changed for the long term in sustainable ways, people won’t flee them in desperation. (Message me for more info!)
- Short term: write World Vision or any other favorite NGO and plea for them to set up temporary relief / refugee camps to take the ease off the churches and officials on the borders. Short term help is needed until our government gets their act together. There are very few who see these people as people … they instead see them as items for political manipulation. At this point relief is needed.
These are the thoughts we’ve been discussing as we reflect on America the beautiful.
America is truly great and so amazing! Not perfect. But full of gorgeous and diverse landscapes and people.
I’ll end with this — if you haven’t already, I encourage you to research the amount of GOOD that has come into the world through our amazing, young society! It is incredible!
Thank you God!
Happy Birthday America!!! We’re so thankful for you.