change the world {day 26} :: see

In America, 100,000 children are forced into sexual slavery every year. See.

Over 1.4 billion people in the developing world live below the poverty line (U.S.$1.25 per day). See.

There were 75 children in a Haitian orphanage who were at risk of being trafficked. The signatures of thousands changed everything. See.

Amit Gupta needs a bone marrow transplant. See.

Relief and development projects in Africa can be funded for the cost of two mocha’s per month. See.

There are thousands of needs I could have listed here. I’m offering a few, but this list is feeble, really. I can’t tell you what to see. The children may sit small at your table, the co-workers may bristle at your talk of God, the mailman may come and go without a word, your teenage daughter may roll her eyes when you start asking questions. You may be haunted with images of hungry children across the world or across town, or you may be burdened with the hungry souls in your middle-class church. Still, there is hunger. Do you see it?

Anyone can look, and often everyone does. But only the world changers see.

change the world {day 25} :: use words

If you ever doubt the power of a word, ever wonder how words alone can scale the darkness that surrounds us in the world, consider this –  God said let there be light, and there was light. He spoke over an earth that was formless and void, the darkest dark that ever existed was the world.

God did not dig or pound or hammer or fight. He did not run breathless into nothing, He breathed life into man. He simply said it, and it was. Words affirm, seduce, clarify, define. Powerful enough to begin war and merciful enough to end them. Words persuade, convince, tear down, build up. Perhaps the poets, the storytellers, and those who speak their words with conviction stand on the front lines of influence. What do you think about the power of words to change the world?

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change the world {day 24} :: use names

“I love the rare moments when I am permitted to offer my name to someone … to be given a name is an act of intimacy as powerful as any act of love.”

Madeleine L’Engle, Walking on Water

We named our first girl before we realized there were two. I had her name picked months before there were any babies at all. Her name is delicate and lady-like and lovely. But the day we found out I was carrying two girls, the pressure to pick a second name was heavy. I couldn’t bear the thought of my girls within me, limbs pressing in on me and one another, one with a name and the other without.

And so as we left the hospital, shiny black and white ultrasound photos clutched in my swollen hand, The Man and I chose a name as we sat at a stoplight on Green Valley Road. We knew right away the name was a fit and I felt deeply satisfied that both our girls now had our love in the form of two beautiful names. It was powerful to name them before we met them, to have them come into this messy world with a sense of belonging. This is your name, little one. You will carry this with you from this moment until forever. This name is a piece of you.

Before I went to the Philippines, there were imaginary people I knew I would meet. But now that I’ve been, there is Rose Ann, Aj, Maan, Emily, Lola. People, women, children – seen and known intimately by God. Jesus calmed Martha by saying her name twice. He changed Simon’s name to Peter, the rock. He added the ‘h’ to Abram, literally putting Yahweh into Abraham. He changed Sarai to Sarah as part of his covenant. His attention is turned, not toward politics or policy, but toward names.

Names mean things, carry weight and importance and intimacy. To know their name is to know something of them. The world is not a nameless, faceless green and blue mass of land and water. The world is made of people, rich with story, full of intrigue, longing for passion, and love and adventure. And so changing the world means influencing people – beautiful, messy, fearful, fascinating, talented, lonely people. And it begins with knowing their name.

change the world {day 22} :: be small

I’m headed to the Relevant Conference next week, a conference that exists to minister to the woman, the blogger, and the storyteller. It is an honor to serve as a speaker at this conference, to look into the eyes of friends and writers — to speak truth, to have truth spoken, to listen, and to move. When you stand in a room with that many women, there is a temptation to make yourself big, big, big. Oh, to know the kindness and acceptance of Jesus in the midst of a crowd of successful people.

I believe we are called to embrace our own smallness. If the world had more people who understood their smallness, the world would be different. Blessed are the small and humble among us – those who see the world in a way that understands they are not the center of it. When I remember that the world does not revolve around me, I can stop trying to make it spin and instead enter into it, free.

Today is day 22 in 31 Days to Change the World. Read the series from the beginning here. And if you would like to have Chatting at the Sky delivered into your inbox, subscribe here for free.

change the world {day 21} :: suffer

“People are always telling me that change is good. But all that means is that something you didn’t want to happen has happened.”

Kathleen Kelly

The neighbor was mowing his yard the other day, his green beautiful yard, and my weird imagination had a glimpse of what our cul-de-sac would look like if we all decided to stop mowing our yards. The grass would grow beyond its driveway, concrete curb, pinestraw limits. It would get weedy and messy. I imagined us walking through a front yard forest of grass to get to the mailbox, and I considered how we are always working to hold back nature from taking its true course.

Sometimes the natural way of things is too far from our ideal, and so we work and we labor to keep the natural at bay. Do you ever feel like the goal of your life is simply to prevent yourself from suffering? It’s cold in here – turn up the heat. My head aches – find the Advil. Hunger pains – let’s make lunch. The baby cries – rock him good.

It isn’t wrong to take an Advil or rock the baby. Of course not. And then, there are worse things – horrible, unthinkable, true suffering. I don’t want to argue the purpose for suffering or why God allows suffering, but I simply want to say this: learn to suffer well and you can change the world.

I don’t know how to suffer well. There is too much fear in this unknown world, too much I love at stake. I’m learning, in small and simple ways. But consider those you admire, those who live with passion and intention – do they have a story of suffering? It may not be an outward, public brokenness, but I would venture to say that the world changers are well acquainted with grief. A seed must fall deep into the ground, breaking in the darkness of the damp earth before it can spring up and burst forth with life, full and new. And so the suffering of this broken life does not in itself bring about change, rather it is how the suffering is handled in the hands of the broken. Would you dare to rejoice in the suffering? Is it even possible?

“We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

Romans 5:3-5