Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Are we trapped?

This photo is going around on Facebook today.

I saw this and of course felt moved. Sweet little tiny, malnourished hand! Oh! But something didn't sit well in my spirit. The title is "Perspective."

And the words on the image disturb me  as well. "You hate your life, while some people dream of having your life."

I think the intended message is: "You are whining about your life, but other people WANT your life." So buck up and be happy. You privileged thing, you. You have so much, be happy! Stop your whining!

Is that the point?

Something bothers me. What is it? I think it's the ethnocentric angle of it all: everyone wants to be where I am.


Have you seen the true joy during worship on the face of a child in a prison in Africa? Have you felt the electric joy that pervades the underground church in China? The utter reliance upon God in South Korea?

Why do we believe our lives and culture are superior?

We greatly struggled with taking an orphaned child from his home culture and raising him as an American. But we left that on the table when we realized that we were his last hope (second to a childhood spent in an institution) and we believe that having a family in another culture is better than orphanage life in his own.

But this is not what I sat down to write about.

Back to the picture above.

It reminded me of a conversation I had with a friend of mine this week. She said, "I really think our wealth actually traps us."

I think she's completely right.

If you don't have a boat, you don't have to worry about how to pay for the license, the beer for the next weekend party or the insurance rider in case someone sues you for slipping on the deck.

There is a genuine simplicity to life in underdeveloped countries.

I have seen, known and loved Christians in the underground in China. They do not wish they were American. They merely pray to be faithful to the task God has called them to right where they are. And incredibly, they do not even pray for their persecution to be lifted, but rather that they be made stronger and be drawn closer to God.

How often is that my prayer? Don't I whine about my "hardships" rather than pray to have them train me for righteousness? Is it possible that my luxuries are trapping me into a self-centered existence and I am missing out on the joys of serving others?

I have thought many times that our financial struggles have been a hardship, when in reality, they are a GIFT FROM GOD. I am not so entranced in my possessions that I would not give them up to live somewhere other than where I am. I certainly do love our camera and computer...but stuff is really just stuff and since I'm not dripping with diamonds I think I'm a little more free to just walk away. To go.

A lot more difficult when you are financially comfortable.

Remember that rich man in Luke 12 that Jesus told the story about? He had so much wealth his "problem" was where to store it all! When you have a lot of wealth, you have to worry about ways to protect it. It might be taken from you--or the bottom might fall out of the market.

When you are living in an impoverished country, you merely praise God for the rice and beans in your bowl. You may not know where it came from, but you know God was behind it. You don't know where your food tomorrow will come from, but you trust God to give it. And He does. (Sometimes through people like US!)

There's a certain freedom, intense reliance upon God and joy that can come from that kind of life. I have seen it on their faces and I have heard it in their voices.

I think the average American is indeed "trapped" by wealth. We have such an abundance that we don't know where to store it all. Sadly, Jesus called this man in Luke chapter 12 a fool and told him his life would be demanded of him that very night! Panic! His life was OVER? What? So...he gathered all that STUFF for nothing?!

What are you gathering? Are you trapped by your own wealth? Are you able to see there is a world that waits for your involvement? Your love? Your presence?

What if the caption on the picture above said something like, "There's are world waiting for your touch," or something that motivated people to get outside of themselves and impact another life? (Well, I would have shared it on my own Facebook wall if it had!)

There is no doubt that when Jesus told the rich young ruler in Luke 18 to give away all his possessions and come follow Him, that the man was trapped by his stuff. It happens. A lot.

Do we have to give everything away to be un-trapped? I think that is going to be on an individual basis. I don't think the point is if you have to or not, but is your heart WILLING to lay your life-long collections, your summer house, your golf habit, your children's college fund on the altar for God?

It's about your heart. He MAY ask it of you. He will probably ask something of you that you hadn't thought of. The question remains: Are you so committed to Him that you'll give anything?

The rewards are true joy in this life and in the life to come.

I'm in. Are you?


  1. Agree with you so much on this! Sadly for the most part we never notice the traps we are in. :(

  2. Agree with you completely, Amy! Thank you so much for this post! Our daughter, Taylore, is seeing the joy firsthand while she is visiting the tribes near Kijabi,Kenya. She said they can sing and praise God for hours! Oh, to be that "on fire" for Jesus! And, Yes, I'm ready to do that here! Thanks Again!

  3. Wow. That was so thought-provoking. Thank you for writing this!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...