Well, here we are. The team is assembled. The papers are filed. The inaugural project is active. Nine months ago this was just a thought. Well, not really. It was almost a thought. Maybe a margin for a thought. Sort of like a hazy room where you suspect thoughts may exist, you just can't quite make them out well enough to describe them. We knew we wanted to do something, but apparitions of whats and whos and hows clouded any real action on our part. But now, today in fact, Kristin struggled through her goodbyes to the dozens of smiling faces she has fallen in love with over the last few years. Since 2010, Kristin and I have been blessed to visit Haiti on several mission trips and personal visits. Each trip has given us new perspectives on God, His work, and His people. This trip, however, was a little different. While past trips focused on the work that could be accomplished in those short four or five days on site, this one aimed to prepare for work that will hopefully continue long after Kristin boards the plane and comes home. I'd love to say that the trepidation we felt nine months ago when we took those first steps toward making willingness into reality is gone. But of course I would not be writing this if it was. The fear, uncertainty, and general lack of confidence in our ability to succeed in something as important to us as this has not changed. Not even a little bit. As challenges become apparent, our natural reaction is to retreat.
Thankfully, God's grace overcomes our failures. Back at the start, when real ideas began to take ground, in one of those moments of apprehension, God corrected my perspective through the story recorded in Matthew 14 we familiarly call The Feeding of the Five Thousand. You know the scene very well. Jesus' popularity was nearing its peak as thousands followed him on foot. As if he was almost surprised by the crowds gathering to him, Jesus looked out at the people with compassion and began to minister to them. As the day stretched into evening, the disciples, realizing the impossibility of caring for the multitude as dinner approached, encouraged Jesus to send the people away. Jesus, in a moment that must have left the disciples looking at each other with scrunched lips and pursed eyebrows, looked gently at them and said, 'No. You feed them.' 'We don't have enough' was their logical response. 'Give it to me then', He replied. So they did and you know the rest of the story. The reminder is not subtle. God is doing things that he never intended for us to do on our own. Yet he invites us to work with him. That's grace. He takes what awkwardly little we have, and somehow, miraculously, brings about extraordinary things.
That's what sitting at the table of God's grace is about. We get to participate with God. If I were to try to do things for God, I would certainly fail. But that's not what He's asking us to do. He has invited us to share in his work. A work that can not fail because it is His. The truth is obvious to us. We have nothing significant to offer. No extravagant gifts. No impressive talents. Just what amounts to a few loaves of bread and a paltry catch. Just open hands really.
For those of you who have already pulled up a chair next to us, thank you. Your willingness to partner with us is convincing evidence of the grace I speak of. God is at work in Haiti and here in our neighborhoods. It's exciting to know that we've all been invited to dig in.