Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Reflection on a Sunday

There's a church in White Swan, a haven of rest and safety for the many who have neither. A playground unequaled on the Rez, where the kids run and play and get fed and wounds are treated and shoes are given and Bible stories are told.

Three are here who have been gone for some time. I ask the middle one where they've been staying. "With our mom," he tells me. 

"In Totus?" I ask. 

"No," he tells me, and clarifies where they've been. "But we've been moving every day." 

I murmur that this must be hard, and he nods. "We used to live in Totus for  a long time." There's a bit of sorrow, a bit of a shrug in his tone, like at 10 years old he's seen enough of life to know it's just hard. And I know enough of his story to know he's seen some things in his time. 

But here, he tosses another ball through the net and smiles. Here the sorrow and burden can be lifted for awhile, and he and his brothers can hear about Jesus' love and shoot some hoops after. 

The last three Sundays I've been averaging 1.2 shoeless kids per week. It's not the same children every time, and usually it's in a frantic effort to get ready and they can't find their shoes. It's a symptom of the larger problem: neglect. The kids are on their own, parents and family caught up in their own addictions, too wrapped up in their pain and avoidance to care for their kids. Everyone is giving up. Holding on to hope has become too difficult.

But these kids still have it, to my wonder. The God of hope has granted it to them. They have been told - and have begun to believe - that there is hope for them, and that God cares about them, and that they matter not just to Him, but to us. To me. They matter to me.

And who knows how it starts: do they matter me because I care about what God thinks, or do they matter to me because they matter, inherently, and I can see it? I don't know. It doesn't make a difference where the source is. The crux is that my eye is now trained to detect the evidence of God's plan and purpose in creating each person here; in hunting out the beauty and the stamp of His image even in those who seem the furthest gone. We have hope. We have a God who is the God of hope. His Spirit is the source of hope. We know what He can do, because we've seen Him do it. We can trust that He will continue to work out His plan, and that He'll bring to an end all that He wishes.

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