"Something is wrong when our lives
make sense to nonbelievers."
Francis Chan - "Crazy Love"
My (extended) family takes vacations together every year. It's a tradition that started before I was born and it continues today.
Usually we rent a house with a pool at the beach. This year, we decided not to wait until the summer. For the first time since the grand kids (my kids & my siblings' kids) started school, everyone had the same spring break. With everything our family has been through in the past 6 months, my mom decided to plan a beach trip now.
Since the weather this time of year is unpredictable, we did not rent a house. Instead we rented 2 units at a large hotel with indoor pools and a water park because the grand kids love to swim. This of course meant all of us couldn't stay in the same unit. We had to split up. And we had to share the pool area with lots of other people.
On Thursday (the 6th day of our vacation), I spent a lot of time reading in the pool area. As I looked up to lay eyeballs on the kids I was responsible for, another string bikini (worn by an older lady) came into view. YUCK! I complained to God again about the indecency surrounding me. Surrounding MY KIDS! "God, I can't take this anymore! Next year, we need to go back to staying in a house with a private pool."
I supported my position by reminding Him of some of the other things we saw during the week too like...
*Saturday night, everyone except my husband & I went out to eat at a restaurant that is usually really fun for kids. (My kids rode to the beach with my mom (Nana) because Shawn had to work & we were going to get there later than everyone else.) Apparently this restaurant is not a place for kids on Saturday night. A bachelorette party showed up and things got out of control. There was dancing on tables & flashing. Just what I want my kids to see, especially my 14 year old son - NOT! When we stay at a house, we usually cook dinner instead of eating out.
*At the pool area, lots & lots of young girls (middle schoolers) wearing skimpy bathing suits and tiny shorts -trying to catch the eye of teenage boys. And parents allowing their daughters to dress this way.
*Grown women of ALL ages, shapes and sizes wearing bikinis that barely covered themselves. Some things were just meant to be PRIVATE!!! My poor 11 year old niece kept saying, "There is another sight to keep me up at night!!!"
*Older children being told repeatedly by the pool staff not to hang on the basketball goal and to stay in the water while shooting the ball. They would comply until the staff person was out of sight & then they went back to breaking the rules. They treated authority like it was something to be skirted instead of obeyed. They just wanted to do what they felt like doing, regardless of the rules. Defiance at its subtlest. The younger kids of course copied the older kids.
*A lady sitting next to me outside by the pool received some bad news about a job she wanted - it was given to someone else. She started using words I haven't heard in a looong time. She was cussing up a storm. And she was loud. By the grace of God, my children did not hear her. She was livid (and sober.) She blamed everyone from the president of the United States to the person who did the hiring. Her husband had to leave. He could not take it anymore. She blamed him too for telling her the bad news, even though she asked him what he had found out after he spoke to someone on the phone about the job.
*Parents drinking (alcohol) & drinking & drinking some more while their children played in the pool.
By Thursday, it was more than I could handle. I wanted to climb inside my Christian bubble and float away. I wanted to rescue my children from the worldly exposure. I wanted to put blinders on my nieces and nephew - and my husband! I wanted to ask people, "if Jesus was sitting beside you, would you dress that way? Talk that way? Act that way?
But then God reminded me of the prayer I've been praying for over a year now..."Lord, break my heart for the things that break Your heart."
My anger turned to sadness. My heart softened. Tears started flowing. Then my heart began to break. Into pieces. Lots of pieces.
It broke for the women at the bachelorette party who were out of control and filling their emptiness with alcohol and outrageous behavior instead of the love of our Savior.
For the young girls and women of all ages who were longing to be noticed & considered beautiful. Even to the point of compromising themselves for the attention. Not realizing that God made them to be the apple of His eye. That their bodies were created to be the temple for His Holy Spirit. That while society puts so much stock in physical appearance, God looks at the heart. And that the King is enthralled with their beauty.
For the children who struggled with authority - finding it difficult to deny their own selfish desires to obey the rules. They have no clue what kind of impact this behavior can have on their lives as they grow older. They have absolutely no idea that this pattern can make it more difficult for them to hear God and obey Him. Nor were they even thinking about the influence they had over the younger kids who were watching them and imitating them.
For the lady who was irate and feeling hopeless about her job situation. For all of the disappointments in her life that had brought her to such an angry place. For the personal rejection she felt even though this may turn out to be an opportunity for something else - bigger and better. And for the depth of her pain that would trigger such a public tirade. Her hope was in a new job instead of in the living hope of Jesus Christ who has amazing plans for her. (Jeremiah 29:11)
For the parents needing to relax but seeking an escape and choosing alcohol as their means. They either do not know or have decided to deny that Jesus came & died for them, to give them life - abundant life. Jesus will also give them rest - rest for their soul. Ohhh and for their children who are learning by their example and the generational strongholds that could result. I have a lump in my throat just typing this.
I am not sitting in judgement. I am humbled in brokenness as God continues to answer my prayer. He is removing the scales from my eyes to help me see reality - to be touched by it instead of isolated from it.
Once God opens my eyes (and yours) to the reality of this world, we can't pretend it doesn't exist.
If and when we allow our knowledge of reality to make the journey from our heads to our hearts, then we will begin to act and DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!
Our comfort or isolation is not the answer. Being equipped and ready for action is. Jesus said it Himself in John 17 in His prayer to His Heavenly Father for His disciples...
"I have given them Your word. And the world hates them
because they do not belong to the world,
just as I do not belong to the world.
I’m not asking You to take them out of the world,
but to keep them safe from the evil one.
They do not belong to this world any more than I do.
Make them holy by Your truth; teach them Your word, which is truth.
Just as You sent me into the world,
I am sending them into the world.
And I give myself as a holy sacrifice for them
so they can be made holy by Your truth."
And to think that I would have missed all of this if we would've stayed by ourselves in a house with a private pool. I would have missed God. I would have missed His answer to my prayer.
Are you willing to leave your Christian comfort zone and minister to those who are lost and hurting around you?
If so, ask God to show you someone with a specific need and then use you to meet that need. He will. He is just waiting for you to make yourself available to Him.
Jesus said, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into His harvest field." Matthew 9:37-38
The needs of the world are so great.
Loving HIM with all my heart & soul,