My last few months have been quite troubling. I have been wrestling with emotions in a way and for reasons that are different than at any time in my life. I am seeing circumstances, thinking about lives, hurting over tragedies that in the past I found easier to dismiss. I find myself more connected to the sufferings of others than I have been in the past. A lot of it lingers into sleepless nights. It is not fear, it is not anxiety, it is something quite different.
As we prepared for this Thanksgiving holiday and the visit we would get to enjoy with three of our adult children, I found myself thinking about the relationship I have been able to have through the years with each of them. How it has transitioned from their enormous trust in me to the lessons they learned (and taught me) as they grew into their own worlds, to now me placing enormous trust in them. Letting go and letting them let go. I am very blessed, very fortunate. I can sit down and discuss difficult subjects with them and we can learn from each other. They are quickly becoming wise and more independent. Our respect for one another seems to be growing. It certainly is for me of them.
With that as my backdrop, let me describe what has me troubled and wrestling, what is contributing to sleepless nights. What has me both thankful and broken down. What gives me reason to “press on” in these days with work that is about the Kingdom of God.
“Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you (Philippians 3:13-15 ESV)”.
There are little kids in the world who do not know the love of their mother and father. They don’t have that growing respect thing going on. They only know abuse at the hands of adults. They only know a life that is absent the visible presence of ones who love God and are entrusted with their care and upbringing. What would a “thanksgiving” gathering be for them?
As Debbie and I engage in the new work of Rescue|Restoration|Reintegration with AIM in Cambodia, we do it knowing that what is being accomplished half way around the world will lead to answers that will one day reach around the world – here. Answers that come from the Gospel of Jesus Christ – the only life changing answers. We fully get that the mission upon which we are embarking is an opportunity in our lives to live more deeply committed to the life changing impact of Christ upon a person. These kids need rescuers. And I do not mean Debbie or me, I mean Jesus. They need a face-to-face, heart-to-heart meeting with the real rescuer. Our role is simply to point the way, to be among the adults that act like the grown-ups these kids deserve to have.
I stay awake some nights preoccupied with the awesome chance to “be like Jesus” when these kids may have never seen that before. I am preoccupied with daydreams of the atrocities committed upon these kids for even one more day. I cannot separate my feelings from the cause. God has gripped me with it. What an honor.
Could this be a form of suffering for Jesus that I have never known before? Could the suffering of others become more significant to me than what I previously considered to be my own suffering? Yes, I believe it is. Paul expresses his rejoice in suffering for others:
“Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ‘s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, (Colossians 1:24 ESV).
Feeling the sufferings of others and the opportunity to be planted in it for a time to point to the hope of Christ! I hope that a year from now my life will have intermingled with the lives of others such that there is a real thanksgiving for them to celebrate.
This may be the real priceless moment of my life.
If you are a “supporter” in our ministry words cannot express our thankfulness to you. Please know that we pray for you with deep gratitude.
Please, help us spread the word in the SENDHELP! Campaign to reach the desperate neighborhoods where kids do not yet know that Jesus loves them and has a plan for their future. Help us “press on toward the goal for the prize”. If this message is reaching you for the first time, please consider supporting this effort with a donation before the year closes. All donations are tax deductible. See the DONATE link at the top of the page for more information.