Break my heart, Lord.
A friend of mine left on a life-altering adventure at the beginning of August. It was my humble honor to pray with her, encourage her and simply "talk it out" as she wrestled with the decision to face this call on her life. When Lyndsee Landon said yes to God's invitation, the Holy Spirit immediately got to work preparing her for the journey ahead.
Even though she went through boot camp, sought out wisdom, prepped and prayed, she could never have prepared her heart for what she would experience in the first week of her 11 month journey. Lyndsee is living in that sweet spot between obedience and complete dependance on Him. With Lyndsee's permission, I am sharing a portion of one experience that has forever changed her heart... and mine.
Break my heart for what breaks Your’s. Check.
Everything in me collapsed. My teammates had to hold me up on either side as I wept. And in the pain, my heart cried again…how can this be good? Was this a dream? Hearts weren’t created to break like this. Or to stay broken.
When something gets taken away, or when things don’t go the way you thought they would, when you don’t understand why—that’s when you really come face-to-face with whether or not you trust that God is good in your life, that what He’s doing is good.
Every Wednesday night in Medellín Colombia, my team serves at Aguapanela. We take a large barrel of aguapenela (sugar water) and loaves of bread, cram ourselves into a truck, and travel to a neighborhood in downtown Medellín with one of the largest number of displaced people in all of South America. Picture over a thousand people packed onto two city blocks—the majority smoking crack, drunk, high, or performing sexual favors right in front of you. All homeless.
What I witnessed this last Wednesday, nothing could have prepared me for.
There was a man in line to receive his portion of aguapanela and bread. He had the sweetest eyes. I was standing about five feet from him. As he was standing in line, three other men approached him. They pushed him out of line, threw him to the ground and started kicking him repeatedly. I froze. One of the men pulled a knife from his belt and gashed the man’s head. The three men then stole his shoes and left him there helpless. By the time he brought himself to stand back up, all of the aguapanela and bread was gone. He received nothing.
I didn’t see it coming. It felt all out of order, all wrong. It was like getting punched in the gut, the air sucked from my lungs. Pain turned to hot lead in my chest. Why? Why him? Why now? Why didn’t I do anything? And most of all—How can this be good?
But in the midst of the crushing storm, I saw His eyes. I saw the familiar love there.
The storm looks different for all of us, but it always comes. Rarely are we ready. Lives unravel. We all hurt—and hurt deeply at times. We all have questions. He can handle it—our hurt, our screaming, our broken pieces. But the ultimate bent of our broken hearts—peace or bitterness—comes down to this: How big is God to us? How well do we know Him? And do we know Him well enough to trust that He’s writing a better story than what we could’ve written ourselves?
I’ll never forget the way it felt to watch those three men almost beat another man to death. I’ll never forget the look in the helpless man’s eyes. Witnessing that wasn’t the story I was expecting God to write. I could have come up with a bunch of endings I thought were much, much better. That man left an imprint on my soul. I believe he was striving and hungry for Him, he just didn’t know Him yet.
Everyone on my team noticed the man. It was hard not to. He stood out. Blood dripping from his ears and the fresh wound on his head. There was a light in his eyes. So what in the world was the benefit of this man’s beating? How was this better?
It’s messy, really messy, this place where our fragile human emotions and even frailer ability to comprehend the big picture meet the story of a God who touches our broken world with a love that doesn’t make ay sense. It’s messy. The place where we look at our deep hurt and feebly remind our hearts that “we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).
We tend to go to God like He’s an equation. We think if what He’s said is true, we should be able to make it all work out prettily if we put our pencils to paper and do the math right. It’s tempting to want to point to that verse about how all things work together for our good, put this man’s beating on one side of the equation and write “equals good”…and then get hurt. Good? Seriously? How? Show me. Prove it.
But like pretty much everything else in God’s economy, it’s not an equation we can wrap our minds around. It’s a story with billions of moving parts—the incalculable products of a broken, sinful world, slamming up against the infinite mercy of God. And it’s drawing one big, messy, beautiful picture. We know God wins, and because He wins, so do we. But right now, the carnage is ferocious. It hurts. In our limited view it looks like nothing adds up. It’s hard to see that all is going to end well.
Tim Keller once said, “While other world views lead us to sit in the midst of life’s joys, foreseeing the coming of sorrows, Christianity empowers its people to sit in the midst of this world’s sorrows, tasting the coming joy.” That’s exactly where God has me every time I step out of the truck at Aguapanela: Sit in the midst of these people’s sorrow and taste the coming joy.
We don’t have to agonize over the small stuff—or the big stuff, for that matter. We pray. We live. We can trust Him to know the big picture, even when it doesn’t make sense, even when we don’t realize the “small” decisions we make are actually big ones.
So we come, and He makes good on His promises. Today He catches my tears. One day soon, He'll wipe them away. Every single one.
As much as I long for that day when everything is set right, it's not here yet. It's still on the far side of death, and the only way to get there is by following the beckoning of a Savior who faced death for us and loves us more than we can understand. Following Him one more day. And then another. We make the choice the moment we wake up each morning. We trust He'll get us through the day before our feet ever hit the floor.
The more we do that, the more faithful we realize He is, the more we realize how much He wants us to know Him. To let Him carry us. To come out on the other side with a heart more in tune with His. And more and more, we realize we want that at any cost.
He knows exactly what He's doing. He's bringing beauty from the ashes. This side of heaven, I'll never know the whole picture. But even so, as I stare at the mess, I thank Him for the fact that I know He's purposeful in my life. For the things I see, and even greater, the things I can't.
Lyndsee is currently in Columbia serving the community of Medellín as her first stop on her 11 month journey around the world. She will be heading out to Ecuador soon!
To read more of Lyndsee's compassionate heart on the World Race, click here.
It takes a lot of sacrifice and faith to step into something as big as this. I watched Lyndsee pack up, giveaway and donate almost all of her possessions in order to make this adventure happen. God is definitely providing but, there are still financail needs in order for Lyndsee to continue this mission.
It's hard to ask for financial support (especially when Wifi is scarce in third world countries!) so, on behalf of my friend, would you consider donating to her race? Every little bit helps! You can donate to Lyndsee's World Race here:
Thank you, Lyndsee, for bringing the world a little closer through your writing and experiences on your World Race. Miss you!