In heart preparation for our upcoming trip to Guatemala, I have been re-reading Compassion by Henri Nouwen.
This book delves into this beautiful attribute of God which led him to act on our behalf by becoming “God-with-us”. “He made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:7-8)
On a trip like this, we will see much that will move us with compassion. Children living in extreme poverty, with constant abuse or neglect and without hope for any kind of future.
How will we act on behalf of what we witness? I anticipate a heavy heart for the brokenness I encounter, guilt over the disparity and sense of responsibility to try and save every child I meet through my own self-determination.
But, Nouwen says:
“Jesus emptied himself. He gave up a privileged position of majesty & power, and assumed fully and without reservation a condition of total dependency. In the Gospel stories, we sense how close God wants to be with those who suffer. But now we see the price God is willing to pay for this intimacy. It is the price of ultimate servanthood. We spontaneously protest against this road of self-emptying and humiliation. This is the way of Jesus and the way to which he calls his disciples. Who wants to be humble? Who wants to be the last? Who wants to be like a little, powerless child? Who desires to lose his or her life, to be poor, mourning and hungry? All this appears to be against our natural inclinations. But once we see that Jesus reveals to us the compassionate nature of God, we begin to understand that to follow him is to participate in the ongoing self-revelation of God. By setting out with Jesus on the road of the cross, we become people in whose lives the compassionate presence of God in this world can manifest itself.”
My heart is moved. How can I follow?
Lord, where can I be emptied of myself on this trip? How can I imitate Jesus and be with the people I meet? How can I respond to this poverty not as though it is all up to me, but as you do? How can I see this community through your eyes? Manifest your compassionate presence through me. Love through me. Speak through me. Communicate your fullness to them through me. Communicate their stories to my friends back home through my blog posts. And in the process of following you, let me come to know you in new ways. Let me experience what you love and fill me with the joy of your presence. Show me how you have been at work in the story of this community. Give me eyes to see what you are accomplishing. Bring eyes to read our blog posts and move them to respond. Use this team to do so much more than we could imagine or ask so each child and family in La Limonada would come to know the dignity and worth they have in the eyes of their Creator, the love of Jesus poured out for them and the hope they have for abundant lives here and now.
I am filled with anticipation for all God will do!