BY Chris Surber
For the first time in my life I’ve experienced something bigger than words. I’m writing a section of “A Cup of Cold Water” tonight. Keyboards and computers are inadequate vessels for some things. Even words can only contain so much of an idea. God has reshaped everything for me. How do I tell that story? How do I do it in a way that points to God’s glory more than my story? How do I tell you about God taking my family to Haiti and crushing our heart on the anvil of its poverty and reshaping everything?
How do I tell you things we need to hear but don’t want to hear in a way that will make you hear them? How do I tell you that in finding Haiti’s poverty, its curse, I’ve come to realize that our lack of poverty is our curse? How do I tell you that the safest place to be is broken in the arms of Christ every day in every way?
I’m heavy hearted because I know if I could somehow encapsulate the joy of watching my ten year old become genuine friends with an orphan who looks completely different than him, it could speak to you about the reality that God’s love transcends race and language. I think that could help you understand your place in this world as a follower of the King whose Kingdom is comprised of people from every tribe and tongue. (Romans 14:11)
I’m lost because in finding my way ministering to the incredibly poor in Haiti, I’m not sure I know how to convince you that to whom much is given much is required. (Luke 12:48) How do I tell you that Jesus wasn’t playing with the rich young ruler when He told him to sell all he owned and give it to the poor? (Luke 18:22) How can I communicate the broken peace of looking into a hungry child’s eyes and seeing Christ staring back at you? (Matthew 25:40)
I’m broken. I don’t mean in the cliché way that a Christian and a pastor are supposed to say they’re broken. I don’t mean the hip language of a generation that wants to sound deep but not get dirty. I mean I’m broken like a lawn mower that won’t start broken. I can no longer function well in American Church culture where we talk about sacrifice but don’t sacrifice. I can no longer look children in the eye and tell them it’s good enough to memorize Scripture but not live it out.
Words can’t do some things. Words can’t make you get up and follow Jesus. Words can point the way. Words can shine a light on a path. But words can never ever open the door into the broken, shattered, beautiful, shining experience of letting go of our soul’s grip on this world by giving our heart away to Jesus in giving our lives away in sacrifice to alleviate someone else’s suffering.
Words not applied are as meaningless as firewood on a cold night if a spark is never struck. Words can’t push you off the cliff into the abyss of grace. Only obedience can do that. Words can never, will never change even one broken life in this shattered world. Only action founded on faith can do that.
Tonight I’m a writer with no words; a preacher with no sermon; a musician with no tune. Pray for me and I’ll pray for you. Perhaps God can speak a word that will open my eyes and yours. Maybe He’ll give me some words to write and do something in us that goes beyond what words can’t do.
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