“It is more blessed to give than to receive.” —Jesus, Acts 20:35
In my short life, I have experienced much; I’ve swum in oceans blue, traversed exotic terrain, and stood atop lush green mountains to behold beauty beyond words. I’ve laid on beaches under the brilliant moon light, and sat in hot springs till the early morning hours. I’ve drunk deeply from the vast riches of culture, the world over, and embraced friends from places that seem galaxies away, finding love and joy so sweet it surprised me. I’ve tasted food exploding with such freshness & flavor that I erupted with laughter on the inside, and I’ve inhaled aromas so foreign, yet so wonderful, I thought it finally impossible to return home. I’ve been certain, time and time again, that I had discovered paradise.
But I must confess I’ve been filled up the most, deepened the most, by walking those few short miles, in the tethered shoes of others, into dark valleys of unthinkable poverty, pain, and bleakness. I’ve learned that “the best seat in the house” is
often outside the house, in the street, next to a hungry man, sharing a plate of food. And sometimes the best gift to myself is giving a tight lingering hug to a smelly teenager starving for attention. And to hold a half-naked child in your arms, who lives in a make-shift village with no running water, and to see his face beaming with delight; that is to be the richest man in the world!
The longer I live, the more I realize that “heaven on earth,” for me, is nothing more, and nothing less, than bringing love and hope of a risen Savior into the “hell on earth” of precious others. I am at a crossroad with what to do with my life, and rather than feast continually on the sweet grapes from lands of plenty, I have an ambition to help plant a new vineyard, perhaps in a soil where few might suspect it could grow.
A Charles Wesley hymn has become, for me, a most profound prayer;
“Jesus, confirm my heart’s desire to work and speak and think for thee; still let me guard the holy fire, and still stir up thy gift in me.
Ready for all thy perfect will, my acts of faith and love repeat, till death thy endless mercies seal, and make my sacrifice complete.”
More than anything, I yearn to see the Kingdom come, and I ache for a place to be spent.