It’s that verse. Well, it’s lots of verses, but this one in particular.
And that book. I didn’t even read the whole thing, just a few paragraphs were enough.
It’s the faces of the Dominican children. My eyes looked into theirs and they stole my heart instantly. I knew they would before I ever got on the plane.
(Read more about my Dominican experience here)
That was almost two years ago. I’ve been twisted and changed and rearranged and I’m sure I’ve only just begun.
That’s the name of the book by Francis Chan.
“Love your neighbour as yourself.” (from Mark 12:31)
That’s the verse.
The second greatest commandment after “Love the Lord your God” (from Mark 12:30).
It follows right after in the Bible.
We love God and then we take that love and pour it out on others.
Then Jesus says that “All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:40)
Everything lines up in His will with just 4 words.
Love. God. Love. Others.
It has to be a crazy love to make everything else right in His eyes.
A love that requires we love others as we love ourselves.
What does that mean? What does this crazy love look like REALLY?
I’m stuck on it and I can’t get over it or under it or around it.
I think it might mean something a little different for all of us. Because He’s put some one, or some people, or some place a little different on each of our hearts. Our lives are unique, no two the same.
Who has He put on your heart?
Who is your neighbour?
First and foremost, always, my closest neighbours are my husband and my children. And I daily work out what it means to love them as myself.
Then my actual neighbours – the ones that live in the houses beside mine. Acts of kindness, hospitality, interaction, just sharing our piece of dwelling place with others in a peaceful, joyful, encouraging way.
Then my city – my church, the children’s school, my university, the clubs and teams our family enjoys, etc. etc. etc. Praying for them, volunteering, again living in peace, joy, encouragement.
Living out our faith in front of others. Being real.
Then my world – the people in the developing world. Our World Vision children.
We sponsor an older girl in Thailand – Saowalak. We’ve been loving her for 11 years now. She’s doing really well, her health is great, and she’s almost done high school. She looks amazing in her pictures, and very happy. Thank You God.
And then there’s Oliver. Our sponsored child in Dominican. We just adopted him – not literally. He still lives across the world with his mother, struggling to get by every day. He is 8 years old and loves to paint. He is working his way into our hearts more and more each day. Him and his community of 21,000 in Miches.
This is where I get stuck. Stuck on Oliver.
Read about how we met Oliver in June 2013.
I don’t have to go all the way to Dominican to see the poor. The poor exist in my neighbourhood and my city, not just on the other side of the globe. We are all poor in some way – emotionally, spiritually, mentally, financially, relationally, or physically. We all lack for something, don’t we?
Well, I can share a smile or a listening ear or a cup of tea or a journey through the Bible.
It’s the financial one that gets me stuck.
“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” (Philippians 4:12)
This is my verse for this year.
I have lived in want and felt the want and known the want personally. I have found all I can ever hope for to fill the wants – in Christ alone. That’s it. Just Him. And when I finally got that He showed me that what I really struggle with is living in the plenty. That’s what needs the work. That’s where I have to let Him loose in my life. In the plenty. Only then will I be content in it.
My world would tell me I don’t have enough, that I’ll never have enough, that nothing is good enough, that I’m not good enough, that there’s MORE at our grasp. This world would have me constantly seeking the next, newest, biggest, shiniest thing. I finally understand why I hate shopping. I’ve always had a sneaky suspicion that I don’t actually need most of the things in my cart. And I’m tired of people telling me that I do.
So how do I live in this world of plenty, in my world of plenty? I share. I give. More. To my neighbour. I show my love in crazy kinds of ways – emotionally, spiritually, mentally, financially, relationally, physically.
Just now I’m fixated on the financially.
This number won’t let go of me… $750 per year. That’s what a good chunk of the world’s population lives on in one year. My husband brings that home in a few days of work. So what about the other 51 weeks of the year? What do I do with that money?
The reality is that I live here, in Canada, where $750 will not go far. How do I line up my reality with the realities of my neighbours in the developing world?
The truth is I’ve already been trying to work it out for almost 2 years. There are no easy answers for me. But I can’t put it off anymore. It is spilling over into every part of my life. So I need to make a start somewhere.
My first step is to give more. To live within our means and our budget and give more.
We hope to pay off our mortgage faster so that the interest can go somewhere useful, instead of to the big banks. I would love to be mortgage-free in a few years and then ask God what He wants to do with that money.
I am finishing up my university degree, and then maybe a job where I can earn a good salary, and again ask God what He wants to do with the money.
That’s all I got for now. As I type the words, it doesn’t feel like much, but it’s what I have right now.
My dream? To help get every World Vision child in Miches sponsored, to find out what that community needs for it to thrive and raise funds to build a school there, a medical clinic, an orphanage, a playground, etc. To visit Oliver as soon as we can – as a family – and take him a gift and play with him and love our adopted son in person.
I leave my dreams with God. He probably put them there in the first place, and He’s most likely working them out in His timing and His will. They are too big for me to grasp right now, so I leave them in His big, strong hands.
And I learn to be content in the plenty.
By loving God.
By loving others out of the plenty that His love provides.
His crazy love.