Yesterday was errand day.
Now if you're healthy, that probably sounds pretty dull, but having been sick for years and disabled to some degree, doing errands is something like a combination of the prom and the World Series.
Getting dressed, driving a car by myself, having independence to go in and out of places, set my own schedule, have control, and do what I want?! Heaven on earth.
Heaven's been on my mind a lot lately. I finally started reading the book Heaven by Randy Alcorn after having it on my book list for quite some time. I have not stopped hearing good things about this book, and after reading the first 2 chapters, I can see why. Down to earth, accessible, jam-packed with scripture, well-researched, uplifting, thought-provoking. All that, and it comes with a study guide that asks for more than simple regurgitation of facts. Yes, this book has won me over. And to make things even better, I'm reading it along with people whom I admire so deeply-- women of faith who have tremendous character and have suffered with such devotion to God. What could be better?
Anyway, back to errands. First, it was raining and I wanted to stop by the bank, but my energy is limited, so I was hoping to make my deposit without having to get out of the car. Now, for my whole life, I have been simultaneously intimidated and fascinated by that drive-up sucky-tube thing that sends your checks to the teller. Today, I used it for the first time. Amazing. It sucks right up into the ceiling! I was like Will Ferrell in the mail room from the movie Elf. I was nervous I'd breach some sort of "bank etiquette" or not press a button to talk or something, but it was pretty simple. Why did I not figure this out for years? Stubbornness? Fear of the unknown? What an energy saver! I kind of want to go back just so I can do it again.
I did a few returns after that. At my favorite store, I found myself the target-demographic for basically every item of clothing on the racks. I must be the epitome of what fashion marketers talk about in business meetings. Everything was shiny and colorful, and I'm ashamed to admit it, but I kind of bopped along to the "cool music" they had playing oh-so-subtly in the background. Starved for stimulation, I was like a pinball bouncing from "neat" to "pretty" for more time than I'd care to admit. Not much of it ended up fitting or looking good. I'm pale by profession, and pale is apparently not in style.
So my last stop of the day was the post office, and there I felt like it was Christmas day when my letter arrived from Compassion International. I have decided to sponsor a child, and believe me, I'm not the sponsoring type. I get overwhelmed when I think about every poor, hungry, and sick child in the world-- a kind of paralyzing what-can-I-possibly-do kind of feeling that stops me in my tracks. Sure, I could give money to one child, but how will that change the problem? Tons of charities and ministries pour millions of dollars into third world countries. Homeless shelters in America serve up meals year after year. The poor are still with us. The commercials to save the children never end. It's heartbreaking, and until recently, I was believing the deception that one sick girl like me could not make a difference with her part-time pay.
The change came about gradually in me. The seeds were planted by my cousin adopting not 1 but 4 children from Haiti. Then an old high school friend shared she would be adopting a disabled child from overseas. The picture of her little girl's misshapen head and sad eyes moved me. I read about the mommy-blogger Angie Smith traveling to India and read her gut-wrenching but all-to-familiar stories about the brutal poverty, the children with nothing but dirty water, and dirty feet. Her first-hand account of her 2 sponsored children was another seed planted. Faces instead of charity envelopes. People instead of statistics.
Countless other seeds were planted until one night, I decided to look at the children on the Compassion site. I didn't plan to do anything but look. I figured the sheer number of them would overwhelm me into clicking out of there. I figured I'd rely on my standard "someone else will help" response.
Two nights later, I was back, searching the pictures of little girls in Asia. And there she was-- the face that made me want to reach out and hold her in my arms. I was going to do this because my heart had already decided before my head.
Later, I happened to see a video of a young woman from the very same country as my little girl. She even looked a bit like her. She was all grown up, and when she spoke about her experience with Compassion and her sponsor, tears came to my eyes. She was not every poor child, but she was one. She was now speaking to others, and her family had been changed by her sponsorship. She was a living, walking, breathing testimony of Jesus in one of those million children. And that "drop" into an ocean of poverty had made ripples that spread out to touch every person at the conference where she was speaking and every person who watched that video online like me.
That 1 child lived to be God's servant. One woman decided to give to 1 child. She didn't save the world. But through her, Jesus saved 1 more child. One more light burning for Christ in the dark. One more soul bound for Heaven.
“I am only one, but I am one. I can't do everything, but I can do something. The something I ought to do, I can do. And by the grace of God, I will.”
Edward Everett Hale