Day 3: back to the heart

April 14, 2010

This morning God brought me back to the heart of why we’re doing this. His heart.

His heart beats with so much love for each person, whether rich or poor, whether here in Canada or elsewhere in the world. His heart is that people would come back to Him, would seek Him, would cry out to Him and find healing in His name. The Bible says, “The LORD is faithful to all his promises and loving toward all he has made.” (Psalm 145:13)

God is not just a far-off deity or some great ideas written down on paper. He is real. I know because I have encountered His presence; I have experienced His healing; I have seen Him miraculously answer prayer.

I also know because of the Bible, truly the most incredible book ever written: it is ancient, but still speaks directly into people’s lives; it is historically accurate and verifiable; its archaeological evidence includes more manuscripts than any other ancient book; it has been studied by thousands of scholars over thousands of years and yet its content has not been exhausted; it is a subject of unparalleled controversy, yet cannot be disproved; it was written by over 40 authors, who lived at different times (over at least two thousand years) in different places, and has been translated into thousands of languages, but its message remains the same.

And the message is this: God is real, all-powerful, and good. He created and loves all people, and calls them into relationship with Himself. People ran away from God and chased after evil, which destroyed them. Because of His deep love for all people (and all of creation), God came to earth in human form — Jesus Christ — to bring people back to Himself and free them from evil’s grasp. No matter who you are or what you’ve done, you can have forgiveness and restored intimacy with God if you call out to Him and believe in Him. God calls everyone who believes in Him to love Him with all their hearts and lives, to love and forgive everyone around them as much as He has loved and forgiven them, and to be humble and truthful.

That is the heart of the matter.

I want to be clear about the purpose of the one dollar a day challenge. I’m not aiming to become a “better person” or “get good karma” or “gain enlightenment” by doing this challenge. I’m also not trying to appease God, punish myself, make myself holy, or make you think I’m a good person. The goal is not even to fundraise or raise awareness, though that would be great. The goal of this challenge is love.

Love for hurting people; love born out of empathy and community, leading to intercession (bearing someone else’s burden as an act of mediation/prayer). That’s the kind of love God first showed us through Jesus.

Today God dealt with some ugly pride in me. He reminded me that this challenge is merely a warm-up lap or training exercise for a marathon. The value of the warm-up will only be determined by how I run when the warm-up is done. You see, the difficulty in doing this challenge again is I feel a greater temptation to become lazy in the familiarity of it, depending on myself and my past experience rather than on God. Because of that struggle, I’m realizing the danger of having a little bit of knowledge; it’s easy to grow proud and overconfident, to think I understand and respond to poverty better than I do. In fact, doing this challenge may be a dangerous patch for the serious problem of poverty, if I allow complacency to tell me that the challenge alone is enough of a response.

Eating like a poor person doesn’t improve my character or help poor people; it just makes me hungry (and possibly more irritable). True, it alerts my senses to the plight of the world, but if I don’t follow through, that empathy can rot into a false sense of understanding and helpfulness while the world’s cries remain unanswered. My life has changed a lot since the first one dollar a day challenge, but now I feel compelled that it must change even more. To be completely honest, that scares me.

Have I let my heart break for the world? Then my actions will show it. So call me to accountability, friends!  🙂

1That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. 2The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. 3We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. 4We write this to make our joy complete.

5This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. 7But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.”    …

16This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. 17If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? 18Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. 19This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence 20whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.

21Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God 22and receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him. 23And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us.” – 1 John 1:1-7, 3:16-21

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2 Responses to “Day 3: back to the heart”

  1. Erin Santarossa said

    wow! Praise God! Thank you Vanessa for this beautifully written piece! This really hit home, there were so many great parts and layers of understanding that left me exposed, and reminded me what the greatest cause for all this is… I am reminded to not walk ahead of God, but to follow the lead of the Lord, because where would i want to go if He wasnt there? And to remind me that the point of this challenge, is to step out of my life and see how much more love i need to truly love others how we are called to!

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