You will know the truth and the truth will set you free, John 832Rich Stigall
Around the 4th of July, we tend to think about freedom, and rightly so. Our Founding Fathers understood freedom. They knew freedom costs something. They knew that freedom is not doing whatever we want, whenever we want. Rather, freedom is the ability to be who we were created to be. Lies imprison. Truth liberates. Just ask Mary Long. God took her to Haiti to release her from a self deception and to give His daughter light, life – freedom.
Pulling You In – Mary Long
Seared deep inside I carried a belief that if I had been doing the right stuff for God, there would be material blessing to give evidence in my life. My reality has been the antithesis of that whole dream. In 2009, I had gone on a missions’ trip to Guatemala. I thought, “God’s going to show me how to be grateful for being poor.” Looking back, some of my motivation was quite selfish-I’m going to see these other people and be able to pick up from them this ‘being poor’ business.
I started a new position with The Global Orphan Project in December 2009. We have orphanages in many countries, but were more focused on Haiti since the earthquake in January. My coworkers encouraged me to go on a trip. I decided to take the plunge, but I didn’t want to sightsee; I wanted to experience life with others.
We arrived in Haiti. One boy came up to me at the airport (where many people beg for money) and said with great sincerity, “I love you. God bless you”. He was looking into my eyes with such want. I wasn’t willing to look away, but I wasn’t willing to encourage him either. I wanted him to have dignity. I shut my heart at that point and became a detached observer.
One of my roles on the trip was to take Facebook pictures. I get out the camera/phone and realize there’s a message. I’d told my family that if there was an emergency this is how they could reach me. I listen to the message. The voice I hear is that of a young girl. She’s crying and saying, “Mommy, please don’t tell daddy I called. Please call me. Please call me!” My daughter is ten and the voice sounded like her. My heart was open again; I could feel. I called home as Haitian kids at Juli’s orphanage were still singing in the background. My husband answers. They’re all fine. I never found out whose daughter left that message, but God used it to make me be present in that moment.
I’m irritated now, because that phone message made me feel, and it was so much easier to be there when I didn’t. Once the irritation waned, I began to see. My whole universe had changed. I walked into the kids’ house – a two-room cinderblock building containing triple bunkers with just enough room to walk between them. The corners are stacked with essential supplies: diapers, wipes, oil, and rice, only essentials. The ground is covered in gravel. I start to see details: an area where a fire might have been; places where leftover food brought flies: sand and rock piles for a construction project; babies laid on mattresses, and latrines, all surrounded by a 9-foot cinderblock wall. .
These Haitian children were singing, laughing, and praising God – totally unaware they were surrounded by gravel. Gravel, everywhere I looked, gravel the tears began as a trickle. They were those silent tears that just roll down your face; the kind that no one sees unless they look closely and they just keep flowing. I knew God was working at the core of my heartÃ‚Â I was weeping, because I understood my sinfulness. Too much of life had been about me, not about God. I have always had the essentials and SO much more than I ever needed. God was blessing me by letting me see in the depths of my soul just how much time I’ve wasted worrying about how I looked on the outside. Those tears just turned into a running stream and then into deep sobs. God just did something in me that I didn’t think He could do. He humbled me and made me grateful.
I have been wrecked and since returning home my whole center of gravity is off. God is having to recreate who I am. It is clear there’s no going back on this deal. God just keeps pulling you forward and pulling you in.