So I've been thinking a lot about the phrase "faith like a child" once again this past week. For those of you who followed my blog over the summer, I wrote a bit about this idea while helping at the orphanage. Being back at Penn State, I unfortunately got pulled back away from kids and hardly even noticed it. Until this last weekend at church when we were eating lunch afterwards and all the adult tables were taken, so I went and ate with the kids. I quickly found myself sitting in the middle of a pretend school where I managed to get in trouble so often that I had detention every day for the rest of the semester. It was great. Block homes were being built on my lap and paper airplane bombers were attacking the bad villain (appropriately assigned to Sean Lobar) the whole lunch. Everything was so innocent again. I realize I need more moments like that at college.

Anyway, so I started thinking about the phrase "faith like a child." Naturally, I found a song that helped me figure some things out. Jars of Clay has a song called "Like A Child" which as the name implies, deals with this very thing. There was one line that really stuck out to me:
"...I wonder if I've grown to lose the recklessness?"
I stared at it for awhile and finally decided to look up the definition of recklessness. According to some random dictionary online, recklessness means: utterly unconcerned about the consequences of some action.

Not helping me a ton, I looked to the bible and found this:
John 12:24
"...anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you'll have it forever, real and eternal."
Reckless in your love. Utterly unconcerned about what people will think or what will happen as a result of your love.

It's neat how every now and then a verse from the bible just stands out to you and clicks. At first I wasn't exactly sure how recklessness fit in to the picture. Was it really all that bad a thing to lose my recklessness. But then I read John 12:24 and I think I began to understand what Jars of Clay may have meant.

So what does it mean to have absolutely no concern about consequences as a result of our love? I guess I always imagine that loving people will simply make everyone happy and will end our problems. Or perhaps that's the easy kind of love I gravitate to, meanwhile avoiding the other kind. The kind that requires you to stand up for and love the outcasts.

I have a sign that hangs above my bedroom door that says "Approach it with Love." I wonder how many situations I approach with love simply because it's the easy choice. Perhaps I should add a word in the middle of that phrase so that it says "Approach it all with Love."

That's the beauty with kids. They have no perception of the labels that our world may apply to the people around us. They don't care whether you have lots of money or toys. All they care about is that they have a common friend to love, be loved, and play with. Give them a few twigs and some grass and they'll be happy all day long.

Thinking back to the orphanage in Tanzania, it was amazing how open and welcoming all the kids were to us when we arrived. They had no idea who we were, what we had done the week before, or even what our motives were for coming to Africa. Even if our reason for traveling to Africa beforehand had been a selfish one, after meeting those kids and spending one day with them, that motive would have been completely erased. It was such a different form of love. Not once while I was there did we talk about love with any of the kids. The words I love you were never said, but it was very evident to everyone sitting around the dinner table the last night we were there that those were the feelings being felt. Those kids knew the day we arrived that we wouldn't be staying with them for long, that at some point we would have to leave for home. Yet even knowing that, they still loved us relentlessly.

I think sometimes in our lives we chose to love the easy ones. I know I'm guilty of thinking that I won't see such and such person for quite some time so loving them isn't as big a deal as loving the person who I see every day. I guess I feel at times that it is not possible to make a difference in such a short amount of time. I guess the kids in Tanzania proved me wrong. Reckless about what would happen from opening up to us, careless about what would happen once we had left, they knew what it meant when John said but if you let it go, reckless in your love, you'll have it forever, real and eternal.

Seeking Fliers

Last night Penn State brought Paul Rusasabegina, the man in which Hotel Rwanda is based off of, to campus. Thousands of students filled the auditorium to hear this one man speak about his story. For nearly an hour and a half, Paul told his story of acting as a hotel manager during a genocide which sadly went nearly unnoticed by most of the ‘modern’ world. He talked about the countless bodies lining the road outside of his hotel. He talked about his family who he feared he may never see again. He talked about the multiple life and death decisions he had to make over a couple months. But had I not known any of that, he didn’t seem any different than all of the people sitting around me.

If I were walking to class and happened to pass Paul on the street, there’s nothing that would have made me stop and turn and follow him to hear his story. He would just be another person who I would soon forget about. But fortunately, Paul’s story has been made known, and people do stop and listen to his story. They may not recognize his face or fully know about the genocide, but when they hear Hotel Rwanda, they stop and listen.

So today as I walked around campus, I couldn’t help but check everyone out walking beside me. Checking out in the sense of pondering their stories. If they were brought to Penn State to talk to the campus and I were making posters for them, what would be the caption beneath their name? Would that flier inspire people to come out and listen to them talk. Sadly, I don’t think it would, at least for most of us. The majority of us don’t have stories like Paul, or at least so we think.

“Well there’s no way that my life story measures up to Paul’s, so I won’t bother sharing it with others. I don’t need to make a flier for myself.”

When I got back from Africa this past summer, the first week was great because I was excited and telling everyone about it. But soon after, for some reason, I started thinking that possibly people wouldn’t want to hear about it. For some reason I didn’t think that my stories were worth telling people. I didn’t want to hassle them. And unfortunately, I think a lot of people feel this way.

So what would happen if we intentionally went around trying to determine what were on each others fliers? I don’t think its good enough to just wait around for people to come to us with their stories, sometimes we have to go seeking the stories. And most of the time, seeking just involves sitting. Sitting and listening.

I find it pretty easy to sit and listen to a pre-planned, heavily publicized event, dealing about genocide coming from a person I only know from a flier. But why is it so much harder to sit and listen to the people I interact with daily. The people who will matter in the future.

Maybe because with an event like Paul, it’s easy to walk away and not do anything about it. I can walk away from the talk last night and not do anything and Paul will never know. Life will keep moving on like it did before.

But when the person talking to me is someone who personally knows me, it is so much harder. No longer can I walk away and ignore what was said. That person’s flier has now become part of mine.

As I continued to walk around campus today, I thought again to the question of whether I would stop to listen to Paul if he had passed me. And as I thought about Paul walking beside me, I soon found myself thinking about what if Jesus were walking beside me. Would I stop and listen to what he had to said? In Jesus’ time, did the people recognize his face and immediately know his story when they saw him? Or was their something about him that just made people stop and follow him? What made people want to sit and just listen to him for hours on end? Why don’t we act that way any more to the people around us? Why don’t we go looking for Jesus in everyone?

Below is a song by Monk and Neagle which really gets at this whole concept. Usually I just cut out the good section of a song and post it, but with this song, all of the lyrics need to be posted.

Twenty-First Time / Monk and Neagle

Nowhere to live
Nowhere to fall
He used to have money
But he’s wasted it all
His face is a photograph burned in mind
But I pretend not to see him for the twenty-first time

He sleeps under stars, it’s all he can afford
His blanket’s an old coat he’s had since the war
He stands on the corner of Carter and Vine
But I pretend not to see him for the twenty-first time

He may be a drifter who’s grown old and gray
But what if it’s Jesus and I walk away
I say I’m the body and drink of the wine
But I pretend not to see him for the twenty-first time

She’s 29 but she feels 48
She can’t raise three kids on minimum wage
She’s crying in back of the welfare line
But I pretend not to see her for the twenty-first time

She may be a stranger trying to get through the day
But what if it’s Jesus and I walk away
I say I’m the body and drink of the wine
But I pretend not to see her for the twenty-first time

This is a call for a change in my heart
I realize that I’ve not been doing my part
When I needed a Savior, I found it in Him
He gave to me, now I’ll give back to them

Drifter or stranger, daughter or son
I’ll look for Jesus in everyone
‘Cause I am the body and drink of the wine
And I’m thankful there’s more than the twenty-first time

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