Where are you going? What is your destination? With whom are you sharing this Friday, March 31st? Most of us are going to work or coming home from work or are at home telecommuting or spit-polishing our Skechers hiking shoes/boots for the 60 degree w/ a side of sunshine to go Sunday hike in Delaware Water Gap (that last possibility applies specifically to me. It’s my one-day-late bday present from my family. If God really loved me then He would have had Saturday, my 50th bday, be sunny but NO! I’m so mad I think I will convert to Scientology since its all mind over matter anyway right?). Since God is in charge, I think I can flex my schedule to work around his schedule (pretty awesome of me huh?)
I remember a destination several hundred of us went to each summer from our church, Emmanuel Faith Community Church in Escondido, CA. K47, a.k.a. Cantamar Dunes, is about 3O miles south of Tijuana along the Pacific coast of Baja. It was a blast every year, camping out with a couple hundred crazy California high school and college people. No drinking, drugs, or wild sexcapades amongst our group. We were (and are) a bunch of Jesus Freaks. We just had fun in the sun and yes, back then you didn’t need a passport to Mexico and the drug cartels were not as active/violent as they are now. The most fun was digging the latrine and building the frame for the “job jonny” and screwing down that toilet seat so you could do your business in relative comfort. Ah the life.
I remember vacationing in Yosemite as a young kid with my parents, older sister Betsy, and my grandparents Bert and Laura Rogers. Grandma Rogers always had plenty of energy and a super sharp mind. Grandpa Rogers, well, lets just say his mind was pretty good but his energy level/body fitness was somewhat lacking. It didn’t matter to me – he was my grandpa and I loved he and my grandmother. We were at the campsite and all of us were outside the trailer hanging out except for – yup – Grandpa Rogers. He was puttsing around doing whatever in the trailer. Out of nowhere a bear comes idly ambling through camp – headed right past our trailer! We were all pretty freaked out and then it dawned on us: GRANDPA IS STILL IN THE TRAILER!! We all got down on our knees, raised our hands to heaven and prayed with all the faith we could muster, “Dear God, PLEASE keep Grandpa in the trailer!” God has a funny sense of humor at times. Guess what his clear answer was: “That’s a negative Rampart” [remember Squad 51? If not, your just a greenhorny whippersnapper]. God said NO!! That begs the question: how did we know God said NO? Well, immediately after our prayer and fasting session pleading with God to keep Grandpa in the trailer, guess what? OUT WALKS GRANDPA WITH THE BEAR 10 FEET AWAY FROM HIM! I thought for sure I was going to witness that bear chew my poor, ailing, decrepit Grandpa to death before my young eyes. I was going to need radical shock therapy for the rest of my life. And then the strangest thing happened. While I was upset with God for saying NO to our prayer, He got the last laugh. Instead of answering YES to our prayer, He decided to do what He does at times and interrupt the normal course of Entropy, a.k.a. the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Oh yeah, Grandpa was the quintessential poster child for Entropy. As soon as he saw that bear, Grandpa, who on his best day could manage a real slow shuffle, took off running like a top-fuel dragster! It was awe-inspiring. The fear of God and the fear of a hungry Grizzly/black/brown (give me a break – I was only around 10 at the time for Pete’s sake) whatever kind of bear it was ready to snack on your cranium is motivation enough to help an old man put wind in his sails and sprint beyond his normal, human, 60ish my-body-has-been-breaking-down-for-years reality. Talk about living in denial at the state of your physical fitness. What a fun memory and yes – no passport was required.
I went on a trip to Bolivia years ago and yes – a passport WAS required. What we (a small group from my church which I had the privilege of training) found was people desperately poor (one of the poorest nations on earth). What we also found was people who had a hunger for the Word of God, a hunger to know Jesus and be known by Him. The physical need, the physical hunger was gut-wrenching; the spiritual need, the spiritual hunger was soul-piercing. I have everything I need and a lot of what I want as an American. These dear fellow human beings – Aymaran, Quechuan, Spanish (Spain) descendants, other transplanted South Americans – most desperately poor (except for the Spanish descendants by and large) and most hungry for anything that would help them. All they needed was people who had resources and who had answers to care enough to want to help them. Most people in the world who can help don’t care and won’t care and will not help even if it wasn’t an inconvenience. Those stupid coca-leaf smoking Indians from Bolivia aren’t worth spitting on, are they?
FYI – Bolivia is a dangerous place. It is run by a pseudo-communist regime which hates America and Americans. Don’t even get your PASSPORT and DEFINITELY do not book a flight to La Paz or Cochabamba or El Alto. It’s much too dangerous – especially for Americans. God is not in control in Bolivia. It is out of his jurisdiction. He has ceded authority to diabolos, a.k.a. the Great Deceiver, a.k.a. SATAN.
Yessir, God has deserted the poor, the widow, the orphan, the disenfranchised, the homeless, those down on their luck . . . or . . . perhaps it is YOU and I who have forgotten to love our neighbor as our selfish selves.