As many of you know, a little over a week ago, the coast of Ecuador was hit with a 7.8 magnitude earthquake. While only about 100 miles away, the part of Quito in which we live escaped relatively unscathed. We had experienced tremors before, but knew this one was different the moment it hit…lateral movements, an increased duration, windows and lights swaying…little did we know at the time the massive devastation it had caused just down the road.
It didn’t take long for us to begin to see the extent of the damage on the coast. We went to bed Saturday night with the preliminary reports of buildings down, but it was easy to rest as no fatalities had been reported. But, with the light of Sunday morning, it was apparent how tragic this earthquake had become. The reality of escaping this destruction by only miles was startling. We were so thankful for God’s protection in our lives, but, just as readily, confused about why were were able to be granted safety this time around. The call to action came from the pit in my stomach…I did not want to BE THAT PERSON who turns a blind eye, who sees but does not act, who does not have the eyes of Jesus. I wanted to do something and do it now. So, I struggled against who I didn’t want to be, but realized exactly who I am.
I am that person who was absolutely stunned by the devastation that has occurred.
I am that person who is glued to Facebook in order to see the latest developments and obtain new information.
I am that person who is heartbroken to know how many children have been orphaned and left alone.
I am that person who is overwhelmed by the realization of how life has changed for the very places we have visited and vacationed.
I am that person who is frustrated that I can’t just go to the coast, comfort people, and shower them with the love of Jesus because I have a huge language barrier.
I am that person who is amazed by those that have immediately and unselfishly answered the “first responder” call and been a part of heroic rescues.
I am that person who is angry because the world keeps revolving as if nothing has happened.
I am that person who, in the past, when tragedy struck in the world, could acknowledge the need, but often failed to respond.
I am that person who can have a heart that breaks for others, but I selfishly continue to focus on what I need and what I desire.
I am that person who desires to do more but is somewhat paralyzed because I want to do it right, efficiently, with good stewardship, and make a difference.
I am that person who must relinquish my illusion of control, and daily hand the reins over to the only One who holds the past, present, and future in His hands.
There are so many options, so many places to help. Alliance Academy mobilized the Monday after with the students taking the lead in developing a list of items to donate, a church to deliver the supplies, and a site to provide an option to give money. What a great start – fantastic opportunities for our students to be involved, to participate, to serve others. But, is that enough?
Shouldn’t we be heading to the coast, jumping in our trucks, stopping to get the required paperwork to be let into the area, acquire a police escort so as to not be robbed or looted, all in the name of Jesus? Is that what is required of us in this time? Or, are we to stand back and serve where we are planted, providing support to donation drives, and, perhaps, wait for refugees to enter the city and be an active part of that ministry? What about the orphans? Shouldn’t we be immediately gearing up to become foster parents in the interim, possibly putting travel plans for the summer on hold so we can be available to the least of these?
I don’t know the answers to any of these questions and we struggle continually with how much to do, even what to do, and where to put our resources.
And, then, we come to the realization that no matter what we do, it will never be enough.
We are not going to be able to make this go away. We are not going to “feel” right about the unfairness of this disaster. We are not going to be able to just move on as if nothing has happened. We are not going to ever be able to do enough to know that we have met the needs of everyone who is hurting, who is homeless, who have lost everything.
Despite the pain and heartbreaking realizations of this week, it has helped me realize something even more deeply. This feeling of needing to do something but feeling immensely inadequate is how we would feel if we had to EARN our way to heaven. Because this week of dealing with the immediacy of the earthquake aftermath clearly showed me that you can never feel like you have “made it”. There is no way to ever know with all certainty that what you try to do would ever be enough. To walk around with that pressure, that concern, and that FEAR would consume your life and be devastating as you tried to earn your way to heaven.
So today, throughout all the heartbreak, the pain, and the sadness going on around us, I can serve my Lord and Savior through my day to day life, striving to do more each day, to be more Christ-like in my words and actions, and to demonstrate Jesus to others in what I do. But, in that, I am amazingly thankful to know and trust with all certainty that I am doing those things as a direct response to the salvation bestowed upon my by accepting Jesus as the Lord of my life.
The wages of sin is death but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23 ESV)
In no way is this a result of anything I have done. My pathetic self could do nothing to gain this salvation because, try as I might, I would always come up woefully short. Instead, Jesus gave His life for me…and for you. I know, with all assurance, that upon judgment day, I will not be cast aside into a line labeled “You Tried but Missed it By A Mile.” The line I can join is the one stating “Your Debt has Been Paid in Full by Jesus Christ – No Action on Your Part is Required.” The freedom of the Gospel is joy and life, and I have been reminded this week of the depth and breadth of this gift, no strings attached.
I am that person who is inept on my own accord, but is a new creature because of Christ in me. This brings me hope in this current darkness, and I pray that, with His power, and as a result of the Holy Spirit living in me, I will be that person who can faithfully serve and obey the King of Kings, for our good…and for HIS glory.
Blessed to be His,
PS. Wondering what you can do to help Ecuador at this time? First of all, please pray for the people of this country. No one has gone untouched. Secondly, if you want to talk about options for giving, please drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’d be happy to visit about some ideas.