January 6, 2010

The Moment the Wrecking Began

Just 2 months ago in our "Weapons" series we talked about the worldwide crisis of fatherlessness - that there are 100's of millions of orphans sleeping alone tonight all over our planet. This does not sit well with the Creator and Redeemer of the universe! And for the last couple of years it has caused me to lose some sleep. I'd like to share with you where all of that began.

It was June 2007. 12 of us headed out for Nassau, Bahamas, to work with Mission Discovery. And trust me, this was not an "island getaway"! We knew going in that we were going to be working at a home for children (nice way of saying orphanage), but none of us knew how bad this was going to wreck our hearts and lives. You don't hardly ever knowingly plan on being wrecked! One of my very close friends almost had to be convinced not to try and smuggle one boy out with us. And I think she prayerfully and tearfully considered going back and getting him for months after we left. Even with all of the emotional attachment and love that spread through my heart like fire that week, my wall was still standing. God hadn't hit me hard enough yet. And then...we started toward home.

On the plane on the way back I knew I had the grueling work ahead of me of taking all the video I had shot - playing it back - and putting it together. If you've been on a mission trip you know this video - the one that you show so that everyone who went can feel good about what they did and everyone who didn't go can either a) feel bad they didn't go or at least b) feel good that they gave someone else $25 to help pay their way. I began going through the thousands (and I mean thousands) of songs on my iPod, trying to find just one song that would sum up or capture the heart of what we'd experienced - this painful marriage of happiness and horror. And then - never expecting it or seeing it coming - I found this song. This was the moment the wrecking began.

For years I have listened to the band Tonic. Most people say, "I don't know their music". Actually, you do. They're one of those bands that - as my friends Andy and Dee discovered this fall when we saw them in concert - wrote a bunch of songs you've heard but didn't know who was singing them. I scrolled past the song, "Take Me As I Am". Scrolled past it again. And again. And it was like someone started whispering the words of the song into my ear, reminding me of what was being said. The moment I hit play was the moment God finally turned to the guy operating the wrecking ball and said, "Let it fly, Larry!" (Larry might not have been his name, but I think it's a good name for a wrecking ball operator). I don't know Emerson Hart's story or even what he intended or meant when he wrote these words. But here's what the song says:

I never knew my Father, I never knew his pain
Or when an empty home life would break him down again
So when I feel like running I have to look inside
I want to find the answers, I want to break me line

Fear falls down like rain...and makes me whole again
Fear falls like rain

Take me as I am, I'm not broken
Pieces of my life are not tokens
I want to let you know I'm still learning
How to love again and stop hurting

It hit me like a tsunami and - at 30,000 feet in the air - ripped through my heart like a knife through water. These words were not something I knew - this was NOT my life. But for millions of children all over this world - in my world, my country, my time zone, my city even - there's a desperation and hunger inside that's crying out, "I want to love! I want to stop hurting! I want to BE loved! I want someone to save me and prove me wrong - prove to me that I'm worth saving!" And sure, like millions of others I've sat and looked at their faces on television...millions of miles away...far from my reality and just at a safe enough distance they I didn't have to let them in or even come to grips with the fact that they were actually real. But they are real. And my television can no longer sustain the illusion of the distance. There is no more distance! Can you get any closer than your heart? I guess before we answer that question we have to ask another one: Is your heart open to being reached? Are you even the slightest bit willing to be wrecked? Because sadly, many of us spend a great portion of our lives with trowel and mortar in hand, just waiting on God (or anyone for that matter) to try and start slamming away at our wall - waiting on God to even think about having the audacity to try and break us - so that we can patch up and repair any damage that our heart might incur. Are you breakable? Are you heart and soul? Or are you brick and wall?

Why am I writing about this? Many close to us know that the Lord has been whispering to me (and Morgan) about this for some time. Why did I need to share this today? I'm not sure. Maybe it's because the Lord keeps on wrecking me. And me writing this - and you reading this - is one more step toward the obedience Christ is calling me to when He says that He cares about the fatherless. They aren't ON His agenda - they ARE His agenda. The question is, will they be MY agenda?

Is He wrecking you, yet?


kfierbaugh said...

thanks friend!
in Christ,
Still crying and praying

Brooke said...

I'll never forget that trip.It was the first time God gave me a love for two teenage boys that is still a mystery to me. It was the first time I realized going out of my "comfort zone" meant driving 15 minutes from my house back home to teach students living in a world deeply different from mine. I'm thankful it was a trip that caused permanent life changes in us.

Brian Mayfield said...

Interesting side note: I just spent some time reading that Emerson Hart's (the lead singer of Tonic) father (Jennings) was a paranoid schizophrenic. In 1980, he vanished. Emerson has spent most of his life wondering if his dad is dead or alive. Here's the story:http://www.people.com/people/archive/article/0,,20060121,00.html

I can only imagine this formed the foundation of those lyrics!

Bill said...

There's not many solutions to patching the damage from this wrecking ball.
Although having a bowl cereal and watching snow fall in the backyard this morning with Fern helped me.

Tim said...

Thanks for sharing your heart. I have thought off and on about that trip, wondering what happened. Honestly I feel guilty that I haven't been back. Nevertheless, as we have been fostering there have been very low spots when I wanted to give them back and live my own life with my own family. It is not an easy thing but being a father to the fatherless is what Jesus did for us. Those two things remind me about the journey of life will take us places that, in the moment, we may not want to go. Yet God is doing something in us that had we not been willing to go there, we would not experience the particular work He had for us. Right now, we just have one boy who is really easy, so fostering is easier than it has been. We both think we are ready again to keep on doing it--and if circumstances work out in the way we would like, Nick might be our permanent son. (There is the courts and Youthville who will have to decide that but we will fight for him). Keep open to the Lord, all!