There are a lot of books being written these days about the importance of being radical. There are different variations, but the main idea is that God is calling us to be world changers in extraordinary ways. Over the years, I’ve felt drawn to this message, and I always thought of myself as a world changer.
I told my wife recently that I’m finding satisfaction in the ordinariness of my life. I feel called to be faithful to God in simple, ordinary ways, that I don’t think anyone would mistake for radical or world-changing. Parent, spouse, friend, lawyer. I’m skeptical of causes that oversimplify complex problems. I’m kind of cynical about our capacities to truly effect change in any global sense. Am I getting you down yet?
Over the past 17 days, I’ve been working with this crazy little non-profit called 25 in Change. We’ve been on a journey of advocacy, eschewing our normal daily diets for three small meals of rice and beans, and only when someone has donated $25 to provide food to children. It’s an experience that some people would consider unorthodox, maybe even a bit radical, but it has actually been a life giving journey into ordinary, everyday advocacy… moving toward empathy and connection with people experiencing malnutrition or overnutrition.
There are people in our spheres of influence who struggle to feed their kids, families who are anxious about putting nutritious food on the table. There are young kids who struggle to concentrate in school because they’re eating junk food and soda for breakfast. A couple of times during 25 in Change, I’ve been a little panicked about my next meal. My body tells me I’m really hungry… I look down at my phone and see that we’ve only raised donations sufficient for one more meal. In those moments, I’ve found myself praying for people in our city who struggle with food, whether in the form of hunger, malnutrition or the wrong nutrition. And they’re not prayers of sympathy. I feel a connection with them. It’s actually harder than you’d think to respond with empathy toward people who can’t stop overeating, or parents living hand to mouth who struggle to provide good food to their kids. It’s so easy to feel self-righteous when someone acknowledges they’re struggling with overeating. And do we really find it easy to neighbor with parents whose children have Coke and hostess cakes for breakfast?
But it is hard to concentrate when you’re running on empty calories… it is hard to focus on the present when you’re wondering, will I get breakfast tomorrow? I’m asking the Lord for help with self-righteousness, with empathy, with being a good neighbor. I’m asking the Lord to use me in ordinary ways to be a friend to people who struggle for food and, just maybe in the process, He will do something radical in someone’s life.