Staring into the face of innocence…
Some days, in the quietness of the moment, I will stare into the precious faces of our three youngest children, and my perspective of life gets a little bit of a “gut check,” reaffirming why we are doing what we are doing. Some days, God has a simple way of putting things into its proper perspective for us. From a worldly standpoint, we’ve sacrificed a lot. From our take on things, our sacrifice has been minimal compared to the end result. Often when I gaze into their faces, one word resonates in my mind – it’s the word innocence. These are the faces of the innocent. There is a tragic innocence about their life. Where Jackson, Caleigh and Chloe found themselves in a “previous life,” they didn’t ask for their situation. They didn’t invite it into their lives. They were the recipients of the human condition. They were receivers of homelessness and helplessness. They were the inheritors of loss and depravity. As I look into their faces, James 1:27 always seems to come to mind: Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. There are three clear commands given to us by James in this one verse: take care the orphan; watch after the widow; and don’t be polluted by this world. The primary reason why we never get around to obeying the first two commands regarding the orphan and widow is because of the third command: we’re always battling with and being polluted by this world. Let’s be honest here – the world has us in its vice many days. One of the most powerful reasons why we don’t surrender our lives to Christ, thus being polluted by the world is we don’t want to sacrifice the things we possess because they have begun to possess us. As a result, these things become ever abiding idols in our lives.
Years ago, we could have used the excuse, I didn’t know. I didn’t know there are 147 million orphans in the world today. I didn’t know 30,000 children will die today because of starvation and preventable diseases – and again tomorrow and the next day and the next day. I didn’t know that in other places around the world a total of 2.5 billion people live on less than $2.00 a day. We use to be able to use the excuse, I didn’t know. However, today we live in such a media-saturated, internet connected, cell phone equipped world in which everything that happens anywhere in the world is instantly available to us. Listen – there are no more excuses to justify your lack of involvement. Each day, we are assaulted by images and stories of human tragedy and suffering 24 hours a day – 7 days a week. It is all available at the touch of a few buttons. We can find out anything we want to discover. And yet, even in the midst of being overwhelmed by such human tragedy, child and adult alike, we have become detached and indifferent toward the constant and repeated images of poverty and adversity. The fact is, no longer can we claim, we don’t know our distant neighbor is in need – not anymore, not today. There are no more excuses.
If you are like us, the task is continually enormous and daunting. The numbers are hard to grasp and comprehend. As we have done so many times before, we ask ourselves the question, “What difference can we make?” Here is my response: look into the face of an orphaned child and know it only takes one. It only takes one decision to make a difference. It only takes one decision to transform a life forever. It only takes one decision to eradicate homelessness and helplessness for that child. It only takes one decision to offer unprecedented hope. For us, it was one decision at a time, three times over. Three innocent lives; three homeless children; three pictures of helplessness – now, three lives forever changed.