Monday, April 23, 2012

Forget Me Not...

One thing that has always bothered me is the children who have come to our home with nothing more than the clothes on their back and a single, solitary trash bag containing the sum of their entire existence. It's almost as if that bag is a metaphor of their lives, of their value, of their place in our society-as if their feelings, hopes, and dreams are worthy of little esteem and nearly no consideration. Sometimes I think we might as well have painted a scarlet letter on that crude plastic.  

At times I've wanted to burn those bags, sever from the present such tangible reminders of a heinous past and uncertain future-to start again.  I've always resisted.  

I suppose we could posit some theological argument about the value of things, of possessions, of bags and how little they should matter to us "good Christians."  This, finer point of our faith however, is likely lost on a child so deeply constrained by the current predicament- this fearful and insecure child whose daily struggles are a constant reminder of how little he or she actually has to hold onto. 

It's surely not lost on them, this trash bag-especially the older ones.  They must notice "normal" children around them consuming the abundance of the wealthiest country in human history, while they themselves suffer the loss of relationships and things-while their life follows them around in something most just throw away.  Another type of bag, however seemingly trite, must surely be worth the small investment to assuage some anxiety of the least of our brothers and sisters- to offer a shred of that normalcy in a world otherwise turned upside down.  

James 1:27 gives us a perfect picture of what God wants our religion to be.  I'm not convinced it's only a suggestion or a "do it if you feel called to do it" kind of thing.  James tells the early Christians that perfect religion is taking care of widows and orphans and living holy lives.  I am now forty-one years old.  I was raised in a church that met three times a week.  I attended a Christian university that required daily Bible classes and daily chapel. I have been a faithful member of the Christian church for my adult life.  In all of those years, all of those sermons and classes, I cannot recall more than a casual mention of this verse-certainly no sermon ever preached on it.  It doesn't massage our ears. It's not particularly palatable to our discriminating religious tastes.  It's not comfortable.  But, He didn't save us to a life of comfort.  He didn't save us for one hour of entertainment on Sunday morning. 

 He saved us to serve.  

How can we as Christians preach so loudly (and rightly so, in my opinion) against on demand abortion, and then turn blindly away from the children who need us most?  Still can't answer that one.  

The greatest and most perfect man who ever lived (who by nature was God) did not desire to be God, but a servant. He had no place to even lay his head and ultimately humbled himself to a barbaric death for a carnal and sinful human race.  A benevolent Heavenly Father offered this perfect sacrifice upon His altar of love redeeming all generations.  He simply asks us to offer our bodies, our lives, our families as living sacrifices- to look beyond ourselves, beyond our own self-seeking desires and help the most vulnerable among us.  One day we will stand before him, giving account for our history on this earth. I don't want to come empty handed-no people fed, no thirsts quenched, no naked clothed, no lives children saved.  

It's no slight thing when one of history's wisest and wealthiest men ( a man who experienced everything this world offered) said in the end all things are meaningless except for serving God and keeping his commandments.  God's directive is clear.  He places a premium on what others ignore. He discounts appearances.  He asks us to swallow our pride, to take up our cross, to step out of the boat, to enter through His narrow gate.  
courtesy of

Because in the end,

as Solomon wrote,

it's all that really matters


Note:  these are some thoughts I shared recently in Staunton, VA as part of a foster care initiative in this area. Visit the for more information.  Please consider helping if you can.  Thanks!


caryjo said...

Jeff, so true. My background is filled with much of what you mentioned, as you already know from some of my posts. To be accepted and loved "as is", when not fitting into the lives surrounding us, can open up new doors and plant seed.

Re: James 1:27 -- Dave and I have used that as our personal ministry verse for years. Even before he was married me, a single mom with 2 non-youngish kids, he'd been helping single moms. And it has never left our hearts.

Good to see you, hear you, and, again, see your intense and loving heart.

SimplyDarlene said...

Mister Jeff,

It's always a refreshing blessing to find you here. Your words convict... and that's good.

Recently someone told me that our meeting with God won't be about the bad we did (because of unity with Christ, that's not the issue--praise God), but did we do the best we could with what we had?

Your family is Jesus with skin on here on earth.


S. Etole said...

Always enjoy reading your thoughts even when they carry a degree of discomfort!

Jeff Jordan said...

Thank you Joanne, Darlene, and Susan for taking your time to read and comment. One of these days when I can find a few more minutes I'm going to get back to reading more. You all are a great blessing to me!

Louise Gallagher said...

Jeff -- I hope you not only get back to reading more, which is good for you -- but.... to writing and sharing more.

Your voice is such a powerful and provocative question mark begging each of us to look within and see where we stand.


Jeff Jordan said...

I just looked up "sweet" in the dictionary and found your name. Thank you for being you!

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