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Giving, risking

Thursday, October 6, 2016 15:56
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Ann Voskamp’s brother comes upon a homeless man on a country road. He brings the man to Ann’s house. She writes,

…This man is standing penniless and parched in my kitchen and I’ve stood in a kitchen of sorts in a dump in Guatemala City and looked into the whites of kids’ eyes eating whatever they could find in piles of rotting refuse, the vultures circling overhead. I’ve knelt beside a little girl in Uganda who held a bowl in her two hands, held it up for me to see what she’d caught for dinner, those dozens of crawling bugs. In Iraq, I’ve sat in a cold shipping container with refugee women whose brothers and fathers were shot in front of them by terrorists, women who had to make a split-minute decision which child they could take with them and which would be left behind, women who had nothing, yet offered me their rationed tea and we sat on the floor and wept because shared tears are multiplied healing. And I’ve stood at a chain-link fence in Haiti when a small boy appeared out of nowhere, the barren foothills bloating malnourished up behind him as he rattled the fence with one dirty hand and pointed to his cracked lips, begging for food—even a sip of water.

And they come again to me now in my kitchen, Esther’s cousin’s words: “Don’t think for a moment that because you’re in the palace you will escape when all other Jews are killed. If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die” (Esther 4:13–14, NLT). You can look into eyes and hear the whisper from those outside your door, outside the gate: You’ve got to risk your position inside for those on the outside or you risk losing everything, even your own soul. You’ve got to give your gifts or they may become your idols, your identity, and you become the walking dead. If your living isn’t about giving, then you’re already dying. You’ve got to use the life you’ve been given to give others life. If your life isn’t about giving relief—you don’t get real life. Give relief or you find none. For what does it profit a woman to gain the whole world, but lose her own soul? (Mark 8:36, my paraphrase).

You are where you are for such a time as this. Not to gain anything, but to risk everything.

…We all could have been Gordon, fallen on hard times into hard ways; we could have been the one fighting the Lord’s Resistance Army slitting our child’s throat in the middle of the night; we could be the one born into a slum, violently raped and left for dead, the one born into AIDS, into starvation, into lives of Christ-less desperation. The reason you are inside the gate for such a time as this—is to risk your life for those outside the gate.

The article does not say how this encounter turned out in the long run. Read more here.


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