I sit here in the morning hours, my bible open on my lap. My kids, in their pajamas and costumes, playing picnic in a bed tent with plastic food. My dog laying beside me, full. Content. My house is warm as I snuggle under this quilt made by my hands and drink my first cup of coffee and periodically gaze out the window to the wonder of the river just there, in my view.
And I think of the 21 ‘people of the cross’ who died last week for believing in Jesus.
And I get angry at myself for my cushy life.
By some standards, my life is hard. Every few years my family suffers a major financial blow: several lay-offs, paycuts, months without work, unemployment….leading to times of part time jobs, plasma donation, cleaning houses and mowing yards, odd sewing projects. It’s almost exactly every three years that a job disaster arrives. Sometimes sooner, I’m sad to say.
There was five months once where, while my husband worked full time, we didn’t have the money even to rent a home and had to live with someone else- all six of us in one little bedroom.
We have never owned a home.
There have many more months than I will share that we had no choice but to use food stamps in order to buy food. And have been thankful for them.
There have been years the locusts have eaten in terms of finances over here.
Even while we tithe. Even while we strive to be debt-free. Even while we give up cable and vacations and new clothes and hobbies. Even while we sell beloved items and odd skills we can offer. Even while we drive beaten up old cars in lieu of car payments. Even while we move often to get the best rent we can find. Even while we try.
And yet. I am a person of the cross. Allowed to drink this second cup of coffee under a quilt I made with my bible open on my lap. My kids have eaten breakfast (some of them twice) and so has my dog. There is a pillow behind my back.
I do not fear militant persecution because of my belief in the Christ- or for anything. I do not look behind me or beside me before I read my bible in public. I am not forced to cover my head because I am female. I am not forced to live in a hut without protection from the elements or bugs or creatures. I am not in fear that my children will catch malaria- or even the measles.
I don’t have the “American Dream” but I do. I do have a cushy life.
And so this morning I can choose nothing but thankfulness.
Can you imagine if I lamented this? A warm home to live in, food to eat, coffee to drink, a job for my husband, the chance to educate my children how I see fit, a safe place to live- so safe that we can publicly criticize, loudly, our town governments if they don’t scrap the snow off our street in a time we approve of! What would you think of me for wanting more? I hope you would think it was foolishness.
Can you imagine how ridiculous we all sound about square footage and car trouble to those who are starving? Can we just take a minute to consider how silly it is that we argue over other people’s clothing choices when there are human beings in actual slavery all over the world? How insane is it to have debates over the translation of the bible you prefer when there are believers who’ve never held an entire bible– an entire book from it? It is a reality that we have fights with people over infant feeding choices, education choices, lifestyle choices while there are millions of children in our world, in every country of the world, who do not even have families. We call ourselves persecuted when the person who rings us up at Target doesn’t say “Merry Christmas.” Folks, come on now.
It is time to fess up to our cushy lives. To look outside of our walls. To pray and to care and to be affected by the 21 people of the cross who were beheaded for confessing Christ. For the countless others in other places who have been truly persecuted. It is time to wake up. There is a whole world outside of our cushy lives.