We drive through the streets of Croix des Bouquets and the scenery is not so different from what we see in America. People are on their way to work, children in uniforms are walking to school, busy hands have already begun their workday, and people stop to greet each other as they pass by. Everyone waves back at me and the children excitedly exclaim “blanc blanc!” (Kreol for “white”) when they see me (okay, perhaps that’s a bit different from the American experience).
But there are certainly some drastic differences to be noted. Those busy hands are calloused from years of laboring to keep their family alive. Those uniformed children are the elite compared to the starving street children they pass on their way to school. People making their way to work are crammed into tap-taps (Haitian public transportation) and inhaling the dust and debris that is picked up as the over-populated city begins to buzz. The sweltering heat creates an oven-like experience inside those tap-taps and not a body can be found that isn’t soaked in sweat.
Fast-forward a few months. I get in my car to drive to work. I see no neighbors as I pull out of the neighborhood. I drive to my assignment and no one is stopping to greet each other. Most people, in the comfort of their own cars (myself included), are in their own worlds and don’t stop to notice the world around them. Children on cell phones load onto the school bus that comes to pick them up so they don’t have to walk miles to school. And the only people who wave back to me are those who stand on the street corner asking for money, for food, for help, for someone to notice.
I am grateful for all the things my culture allows me. I recognize if I didn’t have a personal car I couldn’t work for the company I do. I recognize the comfort so many of my possessions add to my life. But something feels different than before I left for Haiti so many months ago. While I have an appreciation of these things that the American Dream tells me to pursue, I find my attachment isn’t what it used to be. I look at these things that surround me and am frustrated that they cannot satisfy. These things we try to use to fill us simply can’t satisfy.
I look around me at all the wealth and luxury and feel nothing. I have no desire for those things. Instead, my heart aches for the feel of a child’s dirty hand in mine. My heart aches for a lifestyle that isn’t lush or comfortable or any of those things that fulfill the requirements of the American Dream.
What is wrong with me?
This is the moment I realize Trace Thurlby’s aptly titled book is the exact description of me: “Ruined for the Average”.
Those things that make my life look like everyone else’s life no longer appeal to me. Those things I am told I should want and work for no longer have a pull on me. Suddenly the searing heat of Haiti, her trash-strewn countryside, and her people offer a deeper longing than any comfort item could satisfy.
But this isn’t about Haiti.
You could read this and replace Haiti for Africa, India, Japan, New Zealand, Thailand, Argentina, America, etc., etc.
This isn’t about a country or a specific people group. This is about encountering Christ and the things He most cares for.
And those things He most cares for aren’t things…they’re people. I have found when we spend our lives for our neighbors, whether those across the street or across the globe, we meet Christ. And when we truly meet Christ and the heart of Christ, we are ruined.
The things that surround and describe the average person no longer are enough. This isn’t because we want more of them; it’s because we want more of Him.
When we encounter Christ and the true life He intended for His children we become ruined for anything that doesn’t meet that criteria.
We crave Kingdom work and we pray Kingdom come.
The cares and comforts of this life seem to fade when contrasted against the Glory of Christ.
Dear friends, I pray as you read this your hearts are stirred to action. Not the action that obligates and burdens, but the action that frees and gives life. I pray you truly encounter the heart of Christ and are ruined because of this. Yes, I am praying for your life to be ruined!
Because a life spent to build the Kingdom of the Savior is better than a life spent to build the kingdom of the Self. I pray your hearts are awakened to the call of Christ and the life He offers. I pray as you seek more of Him you find more of Him and fall more in love with Him.
“[The] Christian life should be lived in a spirit of genuine brotherhood…such a life could naturally and freely grow if there were only men who entirely belonged to the Lord, and therefore, in brotherly love to one another.” – G. Leibholz, Memoir to “The Cost of Discipleship”
“And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” – Matthew 5:2-10