Someone explained to me the concept of stewardship vs. ownership this way: When you own something, and you let someone borrow it, you tend to be pretty clear that sure, you can use it, but DON’T FORGET IT’S MINE. (Don’t laugh, you know it’s true.) And God, he’s the same way. Not in a petty way, but in a this-is-a-gift-from-the-King-of-the-Universe kind of way. Don’t forget it’s his. “Ownership” is the false perception that you’re in control; stewardship is recognizing who really is.
2 Corinthians 8:1-9 talks about not just giving to God out of the extra. Because that’s what we tend to do, isn’t it? But if we really set our eyes on the end goal here, if we really believe that this world is not our home, then isn’t it true that whatever successes to which we lay claim, whatever secret treasures we tuck away, whatever castles we build are really all just made of sand?
But that’s hard though, right? Because this world, well, we can say we’re strangers in a strange land, that this isn’t our final destination or our true home, but…it’s all we can see. All we feel like we’ve ever known. Maybe that’s why, in the everyday miracles of life, God gives us a glimpse of eternity.
It’s in the bride and groom, smiling into each other’s eyes and seeing only beauty and joy as they are united as one.
It’s in the father telling his son “I love watching you play,” after every game, win or lose.
It’s in the fact that even when all seems lost, the sun is still going to rise tomorrow morning, and it’s never too late to start over.
It’s in the sisters who argue over shower time, but when it comes down to it will always defend each other.
It’s in the phosphatase of your cells, just one of the millions of enzymes, each one without which your cells couldn’t live.
It’s in the best-selling, under-read book that secretes truth that cleaves between heart and soul, bone and marrow, and that gives a foundation of rock in a sinking-sand world.
It’s in the things we overlook, the everyday, mundane miracles, the little hidden messages of God, saying, I’m here.
Because sometimes, it’s so easy to forget. Because I feel sometimes like I’m drowning, under the weight of the expectations, demands, standards, responsibilities, pressures, choices, decisions–the heaviness of it all threatens to crush me and I want to complain that I don’t deserve this but the fact that I have the option to choose these things puts me in a really, really privileged place.
And you know what? Sometimes life isn’t fair. But this world is not our home.
In closing, I wanted to share a poem I wrote last April bemoaning my frustrations when it connected that you know, my frustration and exhaustion and overwhelm and indecision and demands really do suck, but there’s a whole lot of things that really suck a lot more, and probably don’t have half as much volume. And maybe, just maybe, despite how worn and fed up and irritated and exhausted and wanting-to-scream-into-a-pillow-feeling I am, the real question should honestly be, how much more can I give? Because in reality, this world is NOT my home, and all these castles, they’re made of sand, and will be worn away with a single wave unless I find for myself a foundation of stone.
It’s not fair
That I try till I cry
and I’m never recognized
It’s not fair
that I’m putting all my time into this
and still expected to live
up to everything else.
It’s not fair
the expectations and standards, requirements and demands
the time I don’t have;
I’m struggling to stand and
It’s not fair
that kids are abused
and women are used
and some are refused
based on the color of their skin
It’s not fair
that the world we’re in’s
so full of sin
that no one can win
It’s not fair
that children in Africa are forced to drink
the same water that killed their mothers
because they have no other option
It’s not fair
that we live in a world of illusion
absorbed in self-delusion
and all are refusing
to the cries
of the invisible broken.
We’re all human together!
We can stare at the stars
or stand in the dark
or just watch from afar
and ignore the suffering of our brothers
We made it to the moon, but somehow
we still can’t reach each other.
We’ll never find justice, till we stand with one another
and sing aloud
with one voice:
Sorry for the unannounced hiatus last week. But to make it up to you, I’ve made a video, as per suggestion, of my poem of about the water crisis that I published in August. I hope you enjoy. You can check out the text of the poem here or read my other post that talks about the effects of the water crisis on poverty here.
70 percent of the earth’s surface,
but for 800 million, that water is worthless
Nearly a billion people
suffering from this evil–
Lack of sanitation
or even consideration–
by their situation.
We take it for granted
cause we don’t understand that
thousands are dying,
salty tears that they still can’t drink.
Imagine what they’d give to have a working sink.
We live in a world of delusion,
gotta destroy the illusion
that the problem is quantity–
no, it’s simply distribution.
What we need’s
This is for humanity,
and needless suffering
I think our hearts could stand a little softening.
This is the real world
with real people
But we hide behind church walls,
afraid to go beyond the shadows of our steeples
Where you’re born,
determines when you die,
And I, I will not sit by
and watch my sisters try
to provide, for their families
with water that only makes them sicker
while we drown ourselves in liquor.
Babies who’ve never known the taste of purity
Played in the mud, grown up in poverty
for more milk
that their mommies don’t have in them to give
in the slums of society
Is there no piety
We. Need. To fix this.
One dollar brings a four dollar return
and in doing brings something all people deserve:
It’s called life,
and for it, I will fight
I will stand
I will speak
until my voice is hoarse and my lungs are weak
until every human being is freed of this need
for a simple glass of water and something to eat.
This is life.
Let’s live for one another
Let’s live it for each other
Until the whole world stands
at His beautiful feet
And we’ve found, what it is
that we truly need:
I wrote this poem a few months ago. The water crisis is an issue close to my heart; you can find my previous post on the topic here. If you want to learn more or make a donation toward helping solve this issue, check out the links below:
https://www.dropbox.com/s/oonrjkqjk00qvm6/Clean%20Water.pdf?dl=0 (this is an extended version of the blog post linked to above)
A woman from Samaria came to draw water.
Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.)
The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?”(For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.)
Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.”
The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.”
Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water again.”
“Mommy, I’m thirsty.”
Weeks later, she died.
The medic said the diarrhea came from something in the water, and they all believed him. She hadn’t been the first to go. And she wouldn’t be the last.
Over 750 million people worldwide lack access to clean water, and every year, more than 840,000 people die from easily preventable, water-related diseases. To put it into perspective, there are more people without access to clean water than two-and-half times the entire population of the United States, and more die every year from diseases from polluted water than live in the city of San Francisco. The fact is, every minute a child dies from a water-borne disease, 1 in 9 people worldwide don’t have access to clean water, and more people have a mobile phone than a sanitary toilet.
There’s obviously a problem here, and it’s a big one. It becomes even bigger when you look at the broader effects of this appalling lack of what many take for granted. Not only are people in the millions suffering, hundreds of thousands dying, the effects spread to every aspect of personal and community life, branching out from health to education and the economy.
Aside from the obvious health risks, of dehydration, of disease, of death, the lack of clean water has a ripple effect that spreads like a drop of dye in ever-broadening circles in its impact on personal and community life. Women and children worldwide, for instance, spend on average six hours a day walking long, treacherous miles to collect water to sustain them and their families–only, more often than not, this water that they so desperately need to survive is the very thing that poisons them. Even aside from this, the sheer amount of time spent retrieving this water is severely harmful in that it prevents them from working to help support the family financially and improve their conditions. The United Nations estimates that Sub-Saharan Africa alone loses 40 billion hours per year collecting water, the equivalent to a whole year’s worth of labor by France’s entire workforce. In addition, many children are prevented from attending school, because they have to help carry water. This only furthers the vicious cycle of poverty, dragging them deeper into what seems an inescapable detrimental spiral and robbing them of their futures.
In addition, lack of access to clean water can lead not only to dehydration but even malnutrition or starvation. Access to fresh water is fundamental in relieving global hunger. 84% of people who don’t have access to clean water are also the people who live in rural areas where the only food they’re going to get is likely the food they grow themselves. Reliable access to water can bring greater crop security, and significantly reduce the very real risk many people worldwide face of acute hunger.
Finally, and perhaps most critically, hygiene and sanitation are dramatically improved by access to clean water. Simple but crucial habits like brushing teeth and washing hands are impossible without access to this basic resource. In developing countries, 80% of all illnesses are linked to poor water and/or sanitary conditions. Children are especially vulnerable to the dangerous, invisible bacteria living in the water they drink, because their immune systems are less familiar with the potentially fatal diseases caused. 1 in 5 deaths of children under the age of five is caused by a water-related disease. Hundreds of thousands of people, young and old, die every year from simple diarrhea, caused by inadequate drinking water and poor sanitary conditions.
For many people, poverty is a fact of life. And to me, this is not okay. It might be easy to ignore, that people are dying every day on the other side of the world, to dismiss it as another list of numbers or a tragedy I can’t do anything about.
But the thing is…maybe I can.
Maybe we can.
Without water, it’s all but impossible to break out of the cycle of poverty. The World Health Organization estimates that $260 billion are lost globally each year due to lack of access to clean water. Without it, you can’t grow food, you can’t stay healthy, you can’t go to school or keep working, let alone learn a trade.
The World Health Organization has also shown that every $1 invested in water and sanitation provides, on average, a $4 economic return. And in many places, those few dollars may mean saving a life. Saving a father, brother, mother, sister, child, friend from death. Saving your children from repeating the same weary cycle of suffering.
Numerous organizations exist where for only a few dollars, anyone can help to do this. Some of my favorites are the ones I listed in my Works Cited list. Even if you can’t travel to Africa and dig a well, you might be able to change the fate of an entire community. Water gives hope, and offers the simple opportunity for a better future that without it, is impossibly out of reach.
“Millions Lack Safe Water.” Waterorg. Web. 11 Feb. 2015. <http://water.org/water-crisis/water-facts/water/>.
“Project Humanity – The Power of Clean Water.” Project Humanity RSS. 10 Sept. 2013. Web. 26 Feb. 2015. <http://projecthumanity.org/>.
“Why Water – Access to Clean, Safe Water in Africa.” The Water Project. Web. 23 Feb. 2015. <http://thewaterproject.org/why-water>.
Be Part of The #WaterEffect | World Vision.” World Vision. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Mar. 2015. <http://www.worldvision.org/water>