“Quiero vivir cerca de Ti
que sea real el cielo en mi”
As the first soft, almost whispered words from the song move through us, the breeze intensifies. A slowly rising rumble – understated strength – and I know that my goosebumps are not from the wind.
“El gran Yo soy, Tu eres digno
no hay otro poderoso – el gran Yo soy”
He is here.
The mother in front of me is on her knees, others on their toes, reaching toward heaven, and I – my soul emptying before Him, I’m watching a private slideshow of the past three weeks here:
Naked children’s feet running through filthy mud, gashes exposed to the germs that surely thrive better than anyone else in the garbage dumps of Escuintla. I still feel Lionora’s eight-year-old arms around my neck, and unformed questions in her eyes still burn. Does she know why her mother wears so much make-up and glittering jewelry? When her baby brother stops nursing, mama has to go to work…
A kick in my gut, I feel the unspoken longing in the handicapped teenage girl, laying alone in a hospital bed while most of the others in her ward are outside in wheelchairs. Compassion streams uniquely from each one in my team; I hear Erica’s husky singing and Merlyn’s young laughter, and I know Bruce is wheeling a beaming girl around and around and around out there. The girl behind the bars of the bed inside never turns her eyes from mine, as I helplessly stroke her hair and whisper that Jesus loves her.
And He does.
That’s why we are here. Not one of these hurting children is unseen by Him, not one of their fragile futures hopeless. Wave after wave, He sends us, His hands and feet to the least of these, to look into their eyes and touch their skin and penetrate an otherwise dark world with His eternal light.
Maybe, at a cafe with friends, I might form lofty opinions, theories on social justice or theology on suffering…. But here, I’m quieted by reality. By His unmistakable Presence.
“The mountains shake before You the demons run and flee
At the mention of the name King of Majesty
There is no power in hell
Or any who can stand
Before the power and the presence of the great I AM”
Back in the church tent, I look around and see the little army of young lovers of God, who left everything behind to be the tangible presence of the Great I AM, wherever He calls them. Allowing Him to peel layer after layer from their souls, till His own is freely reflected in theirs, they openly welcome us close enough to know that this is all real. They are part of the answer to the questions in Lionora’s eyes.
Their stories bleed into mine, into one multi-faceted redemption story. We once were lost, but now, we’re found, were blind but now we see. Beauty from ashes, rebuilding ancient ruins….
My inner movie shifts to the breathtaking mountain scenery where wild flowers grow close to volcano ashes, and the 2500 meters’ altitude cannot but alter our perspective. Even the most beautiful places on earth are marred by the fall, and even the most horrendous conditions are penetrated by His beauty.
All of this is temporary.
All of this deepens in me the longing to infuse every moment with eternity. To dip my hands in heaven’s colors and paint my little portion of this earth with His hope.
I am not alone. We are many who continually commit to do exactly that, and more than anything else under this white tent today, I am awed by our great I AM who shapes His people into His image and somehow lets His heart beat through us.
Tomorrow’s taxi will carry us through the winding roads of Guatemala, past indigenous villages and the ever-present Walmart, and our airplane will defy gravity, lifting us home to where we are primarily called.
My heart scattered over three continents, I hear Pastor Luis and his hilarious sidekick of an interpreter read:
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.”
The Lord is One!
His people is One!
“Aleluya santo santo Dios poderoso el gran Yo Soy
Tu eres digno no hay otro poderoso el gran Yo Soy.”
(Photo Credit: Bruce Klaiber)