In Matthew 18:12 Jesus gives a parable about “The 99”. Would not a shepherd leave 99 sheep and give whatever it takes to find and return to the flock the one that went astray? Have you ever done life with someone that lives like that? Have you ever lived like that yourself? Giving whatever it takes in each moment, doing one next right thing after another as God leads?
We have all had those mountain top experiences when we knew without a doubt we were walking in God’s will, some of us feeling that we were in His very presence as we were witness to giving whatever it takes. What if we lived that out every single hour of every single day? Really, isn’t that what we are called to as Christians? Whatever it takes, wherever you are called. In our home, our neighborhood, our church, our workplace, our grocery store, our can recycling center. You name it.
Matt and I have the privilege of sharing life intimately for a few weeks with our son and fairly new daughter-in-law. Married for less than a year, they agreed to share housing with us as we venture after God’s call on our life to relocate to Haiti. In the weeks between we are sharing a three bedroom condominium. Kudos to our new daughter-in-law for doing life so closely with her mother-in-law (me!). She blesses me in so many ways, oh how I love her!
While helping Jessica unpack her kitchen items I came across the mug pictured as the feature image. I put it in the cupboard only to remove it, simply to hold it and let it sink in for a while. My mind immediately returned to the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew in the south of Haiti. Go The Extra Mile. God blessed me with the privilege to serve at Patchouko’s side in the weeks that followed the hurricane. As the hurricane arrived where was he? If you could have kept up with him you would have found him chest deep in flood waters, checking the homes of the ASL program families. Had they heeded the warnings and gone to seek shelter? His family was tucked away safely in his home, he could not rest without knowing…..without going the extra mile.
One image that will forever remain in my heart, that will continue to drive me to serve like Jesus serves us, is this man standing at the side of the shipping port in Les Cayes, hand up to shield the sun from his vision he is surveying the waters that surrounded the tethered cargo ship. When I follow his gaze I find small, dark bodies swarming around the edge of the ship and several others either returning to shore or taking off to swim out themselves. My heart sinks, my stomach flops as I realize what is happening. Young boys, hungry and feeling desperate are swimming to the ship in an attempt to get something, anything, that may fall to the water. Unable to intervene, to reach the boys we recognize as ASL program participants, we turn to go with a feeling of helplessness. As we turn we realize we have become surrounded by several more of Patchouko’s ASL crew. Ah, a moment from God for reconnecting, redirection and a call to go to the ASL Center where programming continues as prior to the Hurricane.
As the day plays on we learn that tragedy struck down at the port area. A young man was shot by police, is dead. One of the ASL boys was witness to this event. Going the extra mile again information is gathered to help the boys process through rumor, truth and the feelings that surface because of it. Another opportunity for gospel intervention, biblical leadership, training and love.
Volumes were learned by those boys through that experience and many more following the devastation of Hurricane Matthew. They learned that ASL and its staff are a beacon, a lighthouse in a fog of choices, a safe place in times of turmoil. Things remain constant there when chaos ensues “out there”. They learned that real love accepts mistakes, seeks out the lost, brushes off the dusty and empowers second chances. They learned that they are capable of being that beacon of hope to others, the importance and positive effect of small gestures. Together we shared a bag of rice, pasta with a family or a peanut butter sandwich with hungry kids, we swept water from flooded homes, played games with children who then found themselves living in deplorable shelter conditions.
Last week chaos returned to Haiti, this time the storm coming from within. Riots erupted in response to drastically raised fuel prices, innocent bystanders found themselves caught up in the fury and businesses were set ablaze. Again, my mind returned to the aftermath of the last traumatic event we experienced together. I contacted Patchouko, asking, “Where are the boys? Are they staying away from the riots?” His response was immediate, “Yes, they are. They are at ASL or at home. They know better now.”
How does he know? He has already gone The Extra Mile. He has already been out there checking to make sure everyone is safe. How do I know that? I just know. I have been there, I have experienced that level of commitment to a calling, that fierce response to God’s knock.
That’s us in Haiti, but it is everyday somewhere, right? Are we caring for our flock like that? God has blessed us all with a flock – do we go the extra mile to pull in the lost? Do we commit to that kind of effort, that kind of dependence upon Almighty God for the strength and endurance a life like that requires? It’s exhausting!
May I encourage you today? Find a quiet place that you can retreat to daily. God is there to refill you, to prepare you for the journey. When you respond in faith you WILL find the fuel to get there. Feeling puny? Boy, don’t I know that feeling. However, I can tell you from experience that when we serve others with a fervency ignited and fueled by God we need not be concerned with how puny we are. IT WAS NEVER ABOUT US ANYWAY.
Be filled – do not leave for battle without your armor. Let’s crowd the extra mile and cheer each other on!