Do you ever feel like there must be more to life? Does the script of your life feel humdrum? What if God had a different script for you? What if the life he intended for you to lead was amazing?
God actually promises us a wonderfully fulfilling life if we’ll just exchange our priorities for his. I stumbled across this exchange as a college student. It changed everything for me.
Recently I was reminded of this when I watched Angelina Jolie’s new movie First They Killed My Father. It tells the story of a little girl who lived through the Cambodian killing fields. Her story hit home for me – I was there in 1979.
When I heard about what Pol Pot was doing to his country, I left college to help the million plus refugees that were fleeing the genocide. I saw them spilling over the border into Thailand barely alive.
I was motivated to take this radical step in part by God’s promise in Isaiah 58:
What I’m interested in seeing you do is:
sharing your food with the hungry,
inviting the homeless poor into your homes,
putting clothes on the shivering ill-clad,
being available to your own families.
Do this and the lights will turn on,
and your lives will turn around at once.
Your righteousness will pave your way.
The God of glory will secure your passage.
Then when you pray, God will answer.
You’ll call out for help and I’ll say, ‘Here I am…’
If you are generous with the hungry
and start giving yourselves to the down-and-out,
Your lives will begin to glow in the darkness,
your shadowed lives will be bathed in sunlight.
I will always show you where to go.
What a promise around which to build a life. As a college student, I wanted God’s guidance. I wondered what to do with my life. I wanted to hear his voice. And I saw that he promised to guide me if I would just do one thing. If I would just care for his children, he would guide me and speak to me.
And, he promised that my life would glow in the dark!
That promise holds true for his sons and daughters today as well. All around the world we have opportunities to make this exchange. To trade our priorities for God’s.
In Cambodia, the country still recovers from the horror that ended in 1980. And today in northern Uganda, millions of people seek shelter from surrounding countries racked by war and famine. One of our teams is headed there as I write this.
So many people are in pain. Nearly 1/2 of the world’s population live on less than $2.50 a day. 22,000 children die each day due to poverty.
We have been given an abundance of resources in America. We have everything we need to make a difference.
Many of you reading this already get it. You’ve made the exchange and are leading others in making it. Your lives do glow in the dark. You already are someone’s hero.
We get to be Jesus’ hands and fee, “equipping his people for works of service.” (Eph. 4). Luke Hanna, a racer in Nepal, gives us a good example. One day sees a scab-covered street urchin and hears God say, “Pick him up.”
Luke described what happened next:
I bent down and took his malnourished body in my arms as his bony legs wrapped tightly around my waist. He laughed and cheered as he gently laid his scabbed head on my shoulder.
I can think of 7 or 8 different infections that I am currently waiting to manifest on my body from today’s encounter, but I can’t stop smiling as I rest in knowing that the Father is holding me, too.
I’m thankful that the Father saw me in my filth and helplessness and told the Son, “Pick him up.” He wasn’t afraid of my mess and He didn’t hesitate for one second to draw me out of darkness. He took on my diseases and my unrighteousness and my shame. He didn’t wait for me to clean myself up and get treatment for the festering wounds I was guarding. He reached down, picked me up, and promised to never let me go.
Luke made the Isaiah 58 exchange! What a thrill to help young people like him set down their American lifestyles and follow Jesus to the garbage dumps and refugee camps where he is waiting for them.
God is waiting for us to do the same. We’ll find Jesus among the refugees, the orphans and the homeless poor in places like Kathmandu.
I can’t think of a better way to spend a life.