Two weeks ago we heard a challenging message. Over 7000 people groups in the world have never heard the name of Jesus. (Listen here). It makes me want to just yell! NO WAY! Why aren't we doing anything about it?
It seems that way about a lot of things, and it can be overwhelming. We hear stats revealing that there are over twenty million human trafficking victims and over one hundred and forty million orphans in the world. And we clam up, ignore it, or just excuse ourselves from not doing anything because ___________________ (fill in the blank). It's too big of a problem, it will never change, my life is already busy, I have my own kids/problems, and on, and on, and on it goes.
In my last week's post, I started to share about the opportunities to stand up God was giving me. My sabbatical gave me ample time to relax, enjoy my family, and dream dreams for my life and the ministry he entrusted to me. I returned energized and ready to make some change. But within a week, and on and off all month, I found myself discouraged and ready to go back to life as normal. ( As normal as it was in May before I left). Why the quick turn around? It was little things. Little lies I believed about myself (my calling and abilities), people around me, and lies about God. Yes, lies I chose to believe about God's power to change things, and to change people.
Many people say the season after a sabbatical is often very challenging and my circumstances were "normal." But I noticed my normal was a temptation to apathy and business as usual. But God's thoughts are always greater than our thoughts and his ways greater than our ways. God gave me every encouragement and opportunity to stand up, instead of shut up! (Take that Devil!).
So, there I was, walking in all these intense thoughts about doing great things with God. Sure I had some opposition, and some things didn't look as exciting as I thought they should be, but I was doing what I thought was my best.
Cue "inciting incident. " (If you've never read Donald Miller's: "A Million Years in a Thousand Years," do yourself a favor!).
I was volunteering at my kid's school. I was the new dad on campus. It's our first year being in the "school system." And it's a public school. So we view our involvements as opportunities to serve, bless, and share Jesus with kids and staff. So, one day last week I'm walking to the bathroom during a parent training. I was on a little break. Minding my own business, ready to check Facebook and post a little nugget about my P.E. training. When all of a sudden, I get a bomb dropped on me. I just happened to pass a teacher disciplining one of his students. It was obvious there was a behavioral issue in question there. But in the twenty seconds I "happened" to pass by, I heard the teacher say something that sent chills down my spine. I'm not going to give details, (and it wasn't a profanity, or racist comment), but it was shaming, hurtful, and inappropriate for anyone, let alone a seventh grader.
So there I was, accountable. I had a choice. Shut up or stand up. Ignore it, make an excuse why I shouldn't address it, or face it head on.
I continued on my way to the bathroom now with my mind spinning. What I thought was going to be a little break, ended up being an intense dialog with God. It actually started with, "God, really? Now? Here?" I hadn't planned on having to confront a teacher, one that I don't even know. I pictured myself saying, "Um, hi. I'm the the father of a KINDERGARTNER, who was eavesdropping on your conversation for a wee twenty seconds and I want to tell you that what you said could have been said different." And blah blah blah, I had to fight the lies and dumb insecurities.
God kept calling me up and out. I just witnessed an injustice. I just heard a child have to defend his family, even internally have to question his value by one shaming statement.
I knew I had to go and talk with the teacher. I knew I needed to speak truth. And God was very clear. This teacher wasn't the enemy. I didn't need to be mad AT him. He was a created being of God. He was loved by the most high. He also needed encouragement. Teaching is hard. Public schools have ridiculous ratios and underfunded programs.
I'll cut to the chase. Two hours later during the lunch hour, after my volunteer training, I searched out this teacher. I introduced myself and told him what I had overhead. I told him I assumed I didn't know the extent of the situation, but humbly wanted to share what I thought I heard and say. What I heard was a statement that would shame any one. I suggested some other ways to express what he wanted to say. He was so humble, and acknowledged in the heat of the moment he could have used different words. He even thanked me. We shook hands. It was amazing. I left there so encouraged.
Crazy thing, turns out I've seen this teacher a lot more since. As we share some mutual activities and common life intersections (I'll leave it at that). Was it awkward the next time I saw him? Yes. But so worth it. So worth it to have the ability to be free from carrying the burden, judgement, or bitterness that I might have had. And, I know God did more with it than I was even aware of. IN ME..and I hope in that teacher.
Read Hebrews 12 about how God loves and disciplines.
Want to hear another funny thing? A few days later, someone came to me to confront me about something I posted on Facebook. And right then in there, in love, I had the opportunity to listen and humble myself. I had to thank the person and consider what I had said and how it might have been taken out of context, and how I might have said it differently. I just pictured this same person going through exactly that I went through in order to STAND UP and not shut up. Grateful for life learning lessons.
Wow. God you are amazing. Thank you.
Now, is there anyone, for any reason, that you need to speak truth to? To encourage? To call out and affirm, or help? Don't allow lies and excuses to prevent you. This person could be an unreached person across the globe, a family member, a co-worker, a stranger you overhear, or someone hurting someone else. Be aware of God's voice leading you in paths of justice.
Be Bold. Stand Firm. Speak out. Dispel injustice.
Do it all with the grace, love, and power I have for you.