I’ve begun re-reading Joan Chittister’s book The Rule of Benedict. The Rule of Benedict was written 1500 years ago as instructions for monks. I had to read Chittister’s take on The Rule in seminary, but it’s different when you read something because Bill Wilson assigns it verses believing God wants you to read it.
The first thing that caught my attention in the book is (and this is me paraphrasing Chittister paraphrasing Saint Benedict) “For the Christian, every interaction/event in your life is an opportunity for God to reach/teach you. If you miss that point, you miss much of God”. When I read the book the first time, I missed everything, meaning I allowed myself to glean nothing from it. Maybe God wanted Bill Wilson to assign it and I missed the opportunity to have it impact me. Sometimes God gives us another chance as he did me with this book as He led me to take it off my shelf for the first time in 8 years.
Chittister writes, “One part of growing spiritually is to be aware of what is going on around us and allowing ourselves to feel its effects”. A few months ago I preached a sermon on that theme calling it “having our antennas up”. We miss so much because we are not looking for anything. (The wise men were astrologers who would have missed the star had they not been paying attention.)
I spent the last week in Haiti with a small team from our area. It was my 4th trip there in the last 4 years. Every trip back reminds me of everything I take for granted. And every trip changes and challenges me a little more.
This morning I heard an advertisement for 7-Eleven. They were advertising a donut and coffee for only $2.00. I hear that and I remember that half the world lives on less than $2.00 a day. Half the world survives for a day on what we pay for a cheap donut and cheap coffee. I think about the village I woke up in yesterday where most people only eat 3 meals a week. My heart fills with joy to know that we purchased and delivered nearly 1,000 pounds of beans and rice to families while we were there. And we left money for our missionary friends to purchase several hundreds of pounds more in the coming weeks. On the other hand, my heart breaks as I think of all the hungry kids crying themselves to sleep on dirt floors.
I understand most of you reading this have not seen what I have seen and cannot feel what I feel about Haiti. But I have seen what I have seen and so I do feel what I feel and God has changed and is changing me. But for you who are reading this who will never be changed by Haiti, that’s OK. I am reminded in the reading today that you and I will have things going on around us wherever we are today that God will use to reach us…. and to change us, even if ever so slightly. What we must not do is to ignore our surroundings, even if they are routine. When we go through a day not paying attention to events and interactions, we are in effect telling God to “Keep the Change”.