Thursday, October 14, 2010

Watching a Baby Die

Today I visited some orphans. One of them was lying in his crib. As I walked by him for the second time, he fussed slightly.  I looked down at him. His eyes were slightly glazed, and the snot was dried around his small nose.

Part of me wanted to find some way to clean him up, but the rest of me felt icky about it.  I'm being honest here.  So I went to hold the hand of another kid and talk to him for a while, but I came back a few minutes later.  Bing started fussing again, trying to twist his head and body into a more comfortable position. I checked his feet, one of which was sticking out from under his blanket into the cool fall air of the room. I put a blanket over his cold foot.

He had squirmed his head up against the wooden rails of the crib, and was looking up at me, seeming to listen to me.  I rubbed his head for a few minutes, speaking a few soothing words to him.  He looked bad.  I heard of another baby that our friend JennLu watched die the other day. It was death-gasping for a few hours before it passed away in her arms.

So I leaned down and listened, but he seemed to be breathing calmly, with only a slight strain.  But there was something about him: he looked in a bad way.  Still somehow I felt he appreciated the head rub and words I gave him. I saw a bottle of thick milk nearby, so I grabbed it and put a few drops on his tongue. For a minute he just kept his mouth open with the thick milk drops on his tongue, then he closed his mouth and looked a little happy.

Thirty minutes later I was holding another kid, feeding him a bottle, when the resident nurse came and looked at him, and took him out to the clinic to see the doctor. She came in a few minutes later.

"He passed," she said. "He'd had some epileptic seizures this morning. The Chinese caregivers are pretty sad about it, still in shock."

Lord, we commit into your hands this person I met so briefly. I know he is in a much better place. Please help us make the most of these few years of breathing you give to us. We are coming soon into Your eternal presence also.

2 Samuel 12:22-23

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

I Met God One Time

First I want to say I'm a rather lazy person, often self-absorbed, secretly lustful, or publicly complaining.  I preface my account with that because my encounter with God had little to do with my personal virtues.

I was house-sitting that summer in college. During the days I would go out and work construction, and at nights return to houses of people in our church.  One day I was off from work and reading a book, "Wisdom Hunter."  It's a challenging book.  At one point a girl I was rooting for was raped by someone she trusted. At the moment I finished the chapter, I remembered all the actual rapists and murderers running around on earth.  Girls are being raped and tortured even right now as you're comfortably reading this.  I grew furious and threw the book across the room, cussing.  I stormed outside the house in my socks, slamming the door behind me. 

The house was set back in the woods, and I walked onto the gravel driveway in my socks, tears running down my face, shouting at God.  "How can you let this happen?" "How can you let these rapists and murderers just wander the earth and you not do a blessed thing!?"  I raved and shouted at God perhaps like Job did once.  I let him "have it."  And I was so upset, so furious at it all I knew I wasn't going to stop asking unless He answered me.  "I'm not going anywhere! I'm going to keep shouting and walking outside for two days if I have to until You answer me!  I don't care about anything else now."

I did wander the shaded gravel driveway sobbing and yelling for about an hour.  The condition of the world was no longer something I could put up with; I couldn't go on and damn it, wouldn't unless God answered me.

Sometimes we read God's coming to Job and think God was a little high and mighty.  But as you hear about my experience, can you see the arrogance was on my side, and God humbled Himself terribly to even answer?

He came like a whirlwind.  The trees seemed to blow and through me pierced bright stabs of Presence. My protest plans were interrupted and I fell to my knees on the gravel, barely noticing them, my head grasped between my knees.  An awful silence and roaring bore down on me, as though the sun had left its place in the sky and was lowering its immensity over me. 

And bright and hot as a looming sun I felt God's love for me, and His hatred for sin.  They were equally distinct emotions, both his love and hatred as much larger than ours as two suns would be to two candles.  I felt the unbearable intensity of his love for me, for me individually, an enormous world of fiery love that left my heart blinded. And I felt equally the fire of his hatred for sin, his burning wrath and consuming anger at all the injustice and wrong in our world.

Then God spoke to me.  I don't know if his words were audible, but they were crystal clear as they came.  I think I wrote them down after the experience, but without the paper in front of me I can't now recall them exactly. But he explained to me that if he destroyed from the earth all who grieved him by sinning, I would be in the batch.  He gently flayed open my heart and pointed out some particular sins worming their way around in me.  I was speechless. There was nothing I could say to this God blinding me with the weight of His presence, with the fierceness of his hatred of sin, and most of all with the burning of his love for me, personally.

When the trees seemed still again and the sky was an empty blue I stumbled back to the house.  After meeting with God it is hard to do anything but stumble.  My protest was over.  My life would go on in this broken world, of which I was one of the broken but beloved parts.

I have never forgotten the immense sight of the greatness of His love for me, and the burning hatred he has for sin.  It was like meeting the sun.

Perhaps a psychologist could explain away the experience in materialistic terms, as some have done for Saul of Tarsus' experience on the road to Damascus. All I know is that if I deny the blessed reality of the experience I will be held accountable.

And anyway, read God's Word and I think He will say the same things to you which He was saying to me that day.