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I Am That Person

Earthquake 1

Photo credit: AP

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.

Earthquake 2

Image: Carlos Sacoto/AP

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?

(AP Photo/Dolores Ochoa)

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.

earthquake 5Despite 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,

Sarah

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 bierlefamily@gmail.com and we’d be happy to visit about some ideas.

Once Upon a Walk

Walking home today by myself, I was nearing the first intersection when I noticed an elderly lady on the ground next to a corner food stand.  I slowed my pace in order to more accurately assess the situation, unclear as to whether she had fallen or was just getting to a standing position after having a small meal.  I noted the walking stick in one hand, more of an obstruction than a help at this point, and an empty, dirty styrofoam bowl in the other.  Upon further scrutiny, I realized she was shuffling forward on her knees, perhaps trying to get to the curb in order to more readily maneuver her feet beneath her.

My eyes averted to the man to the right of the food stand, certainly questioning with my eyebrows if something was amiss.  He glanced toward me, then toward the woman, and went back to reading his newspaper or whatever he was doing at the time.  I had the quick thought that maybe the cameras were rolling to capture what I would do in this situation and, in just a few short seconds, I knew I couldn’t just walk on by.

DSC_0355aI walked up to the lady (who looked like she fell off a charm bracelet) and quietly held out my arm for assistance, knowing there were few words I would be able to say to ascertain her situation.  She reached for me and together we were able to get her feet underneath her, and I grasped and supported her arm and elbow as together we crossed the street.  I inquired with my limited Spanish as to where she was going, to which she replied a number of words in a voice no louder than a mouse and totally obliterated by the traffic noise.  She waved her empty bowl around and I asked again where she wanted to go.  My mind was already racing with the possibilities of how far I would need to support and help this woman, and I scanned the oncoming pedestrians to gauge if anyone would be able to speak English enough for me to engage a translator.Quito 049

On a short rest break a mere half block down the way, she pointed to the scarf around my neck and I was able to pick out “frio” from her mutterings.  Certainly, I could hand off a scarf to help her get warm, so I wrapped it around her neck while she gave me a small smile, and then pointed to my dangling earrings.  I promptly started moving her along, with a nod and smile of them being “muy bonito” before she had a chance to take them out of my lobes.  I let her direct the walk and we crossed the street shortly thereafter, coming to a rest in front of a restaurant.  She spoke again, and I explained to her that my Spanish was very bad, to which she pointed to her bowl and then again to the restaurant.  I assumed the next step was to seek out food for her in the bowl and help her in this way.

I looked around and a lovely, helpful woman saw my plight in a moment of understanding.  She held up a hand to the elderly woman, indicating to her to stay, and ventured in to the restaurant with the intention to help.  I took this opportunity to hand my companion a $1 coin, and proceed on my way, trusting that she now had a new helper.DSC_0195

The rest of my walk home was spent in contemplation and processing.  It is hard to know what to do sometimes with people of all ages begging for money.  Many indicate that you should never give out money on the streets as it just encourages people to continue that lifestyle.  Street corners often have disabled people peddling for coins.  We have a few who know to sit outside our school and you struggle with the daily obligation to perhaps contribute in some way.  It is a constant battle and I am often not sure how to proceed.

While walking, I pondered if Tessa was going to miss the blue and purple scarf I gave away,  I wondered if this weathered woman would sell it for money.  Did she even get food at the restaurant? How far would that one dollar go? Will she sit at the same corner tomorrow hoping for more assistance from one of the gringas/gringos at the nearby school?

But, as I kept replaying the situation, I thought of how many little lessons were tied up in this one scenario –

Seizing opportunity – God provides so many moments in the day where we can share Him and be like Jesus to others.  Constantly, we are faced with these choices, and, many times, we choose to go our own way rather than His.DSC_0358 We second guess the (possible) ulterior motive of the person we are helping instead of letting the Spirit lead as only He can do.
35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,[a] you did it to me. Matthew 25:35-40 (NIV)

Allowing margin in our days – I wanted to get home.  I was racing the rain storm.  My list of “to-do’s” was long.  But, carving out time to allow space to care and love is a necessary “re-framing” of our minds.  Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important. Galatians 6:2-3 (NLT)

DSC_0156Loving well does not always look like a weathered and worn, beautifully aged woman – it can be downright messy and hard.  It can mean listening when you have no ear left to give, serving when your strength is gone, reaching out when you want to retreat.  But, that is when the power of Christ in us is stronger than ever.  But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.  1 John 4:4 (NLT)

If I don’t keep my focus on Christ on a daily basis, I won’t be able to share Him with other people.  I won’t see the urgency, the need, the hurt, the pain, the joys, the frustrations…because I will be too busy looking inward to what I need rather than outward to what Jesus can do.  He is the one and only answer, and I pray we will find ways each and every day to actively share this message with those in our path.

Praying for boldness to have His eyes…and then to focus…

Sarah

PS.  Driving home yesterday, in the distance, across lanes of traffic, we spotted a similar-looking woman ambling down the street with a walking stick.  She had only one shoe.  We wondered what would have transpired if she had been the person I had ventured upon when walking…

Fall 2015 696a

 

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Welcome to our blog.  We are excited to have it up and running and hope to be able to share our journey with you as we follow God’s calling.  More to come in the very near future…

The Bierle family