Kick Drum Heart {11n11 Throwback}

It was 7:15, still another twenty minutes until our tuk tuk would arrive.

My belly was stuffed  beyond contentment with chips and salsa. Yes, Mexican food in Cambodia. Some of my teammates were anxious to get home for toilet’s sake. Others wanted to take advantage of the shopping opportunity the street vendors boasted. We crossed the busy street and strolled by the river.

My senses at full attention, I took in the city life, flashing lights, smells of food, trash, and everyday living. As Westerners, we were targeted by the children selling trinkets and souvenirs.

“Lady, lady, you buy book from me? Give you special price for scarf!”

I was annoyed and angry. Annoyed to deal with them when I was fully set on enjoying my tourist moment in peace without having to fend off hagglers. Angry that someone forced these children to spend their nights on the crowded streets of Phnom Penh.

“Just let them be children!” I screamed on the inside.

I knew buying something from them would be fueling the industry, but if I didn’t the children would suffer for it later, most likely through physical abuse. Lord, what do I do for the least of these?

Within seconds, I found myself in camp-counselor mode, asking names and ages, performing silly handshakes and high fives. We heard some music from a nearby bar. I couldn’t help but dance and the kiddos joined me. I taught them everything from the cabbage patch to the fist pump and even threw in some swing dancing just for kicks.

Their laughter made my heart flutter.

The dancing continued as sounds of Justin Bieber filled the air. Baby, baby, baby, ohhh! I realized I was having more fun in this moment than I have in awhile.

It is all too easy to brush these people off as pests getting in the way. These kids are God’s workmanship. We are called to serve the ‘least of these’, but we don’t have a time card to punch when we are on or off the clock. And it service doesn’t always require money, love will do.

While on his way to restore the life of a synagogue ruler’s daughter, Christ stopped to ask his disciples who touched his cloak. The disciples thought this a silly question considering the size of the crowd closing in around him. It is like walking through Times Square on New Year’s Eve and saying, “Hey, somebody touched my jacket!” Really, Jesus?

Christ took note of everything around him. While the death of the righteous ruler’s daughter seemed to be the top priority to everyone else, he stopped to heal a woman who had been told her sickness was incurable. Everyone had given up on her, everyone but Christ.

Until that night, I honestly didn’t care for Cambodia. I was there because it was the next country on the list, my heart still beating for Thailand, fast and strong. But each time I leave a country a piece of my heart stays there. The Lord continually fills me up with his love, restoring me, allowing me to give my heart again. As I pour out, he fills up. So my heart turns within me and I am ready to love Cambodia.

There’s nothin like finding gold between the rocks, hard and cold. So surprised to find more, always surprised to find more. –Kick Drum Heart, Avett Brothers

Want more stories from my World Race experience? Check ’em out here.

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When I Just Don’t Feel Like Believing

Several days ago my aunt, Cheryl, emailed an old blog post from Kisses from Katie to me. In the post, Katie describes the journey of a burn victim coming to know Jesus Christ as savior and lover of his soul.

252 days of wrapping and talking and laughing and crying later, new skin covered this once dead area. The leg that so many thought was lost could walk and even run. And the man that so many thought was hopeless had been sober for over 6 months. A week later, this physically healed man walked into my kitchen as [he] grinned from ear to ear. “I believe it,” he announced, “today I believe that Jesus is the Son of God.” Simple as that.

These are the reminders I need when I see such immense pain and complete devastation of our depraved world.

Traveling the world allows you to see the wonders and beauty God spoke into existence and the creativity He placed inside man to design with our own hands and it’s breathtaking.

But what equally steals my breath is the unexplainable sorrow and darkness of the world: the starvation, poverty, injustice, sickness and death, perversion, inequality, and filth.

The Killing Fields in Cambodia. Red Light districts in Thailand, Malaysia and India. Societal outcasts of the Northern Territory, Australia. Communism in Transnistria. Heavy spiritual darkness in Nepal. HIV/AIDS in Swaziland. Starvation in Mozambique. Child soldiers, orphans, widows, lost, dying, marginalized…

Where is the justice we’ve been promised, the redemption our souls cry out for? Where is this so-called “God of love” in the midst of the hopelessness?Floating Village, Cambodia

Then I read stories like Katie’s and remember that His ways are greater than mine, His thoughts higher than my thoughts. His love is boundless and operates in a way my mind cannot conceive. And sometimes, we have to be burned, to go through the fire before this love ever has true value to us.

In many languages, there exist multiple words for love to better explain to what degree this love operates. Unfortunately, in English we’ve come to use our one word for so many varying degrees of love that it has lost its value and authenticity.

In Hebrew, there are two specific words for God’s love: ahab and chesed. The former describes a love based on the desire and feelings stirred within the lover, the great affection toward another. The latter is a love driven by unwavering commitment and loyalty. God’s heart is moved by us and His love for us is filled to capacity (which is a whole lot when you consider there’s no limits to God).

God’s love is great and beyond comprehension not just because he’s really good at it and committed to doing his job, but because he is love.

Katie’s story is such a beautiful reminder of that. To believe that there is hope in the darkness, something bigger than ourselves working out salvation for us all, that is what we must do, feel, trust, and know when everything else ceases to make sense, when it all feels like a lost cause.

It isn’t enough to trust in God’s goodness when I see it or feel it. I believe in his goodness because I trust he is good. I believe it. I believe that he has, is, and always will be, regardless of the world and my circumstances.

Eternity is in our hearts because God put it there (Ecc. 3:11), now let’s live like it.

Around here, we believe and practice the idea that you should always be sharing your story and that we are stewards of others’ stories, too. We always tell these stories no matter how big or small because you never know what kind of breakthrough you will bring to someone’s life.

Thanks for sharing, Katie and for passing the story along, Cheryl. May we all continue to be storytellers of the work God is authoring in each of our lives.