Gotta stretch out our hands

Who will rescue orphans?  Who will care for AIDS patients?  Who will advocate for the vulnerable, marginalized and oppressed?

I admit to feeling completely overwhelmed when I think about the needs of the world.  What possible difference could I make?  So, rather than imagine how I might make even a small contribution, I let my mind stay on its narrow tracks:   What should we have for dinner tonight?   Looking for inspiration for an upcoming CBS lecture.  Oops, forgot to return a phone call.  I need an idea for a blog post.  Should I exercise with a yoga DVD or get on the elliptical?  This is the stuff of my life.  It is a good, and I believe a God honoring life.  But it’s a little restricted.  Chug, chug, chug.

Thursday night I met a young woman who did not let the massive needs of a lost world discourage her from doing what she could.  She inspired me.

Photo courtesy of Warm Blankets

Her name is Elaini, and she had an idea to raise money for the care of orphans in India by wearing the same dress for 100 days.  She partnered with Warm Blankets Orphan Care  and started a blog, wonderfully titled miss elaini ous’,  to get the word out.  She raised over $56,000 exceeding her wildly lofty goal of $50,000.  She took action in faith that God would multiply her efforts to his glory.  He did.

There is excellent biblical precedent for this idea in the famous story of the Passover and the Exodus.  God had plagued Egypt with pests, wild weather, diseases, darkness and even death so that the Pharoah would liberate his people, the Hebrews.  On the night of the Passover, Moses led a nation out of Egypt.  Pharoah had finally  had enough.

But Pharoah changed his mind and sent his armies in pursuit of the Hebrews who had bumped into an obstacle: the Red Sea.  Pharoah’s chariots were approaching and there was no place to go.  Moses, knowing that God hadn’t brought them that far to let them drown, confidently said:  “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again.  The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.” (Exodus 14:13-14)

Ummm…almost.  Check that last part.  The people needed to do more than be still.

Here’s what God said to Moses:  “Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on.  Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground.'” (Exodus 14:15-16)

Sometimes I wonder if God would say the same to us.  We pray for the needs of the world, and so we should.  Many of us volunteer in and support churches and ministries and charities, and so we should.  But perhaps we should also actively stretch out our hands over a sea of need beyond our experience and ask God to multiply our limited reach.  God chooses to accomplish his work in this world through the likes of us.  It seems like a shaky plan, for we are shaky people, but He is big enough to work through even our smallness.  He parts the waters, but we must first stretch out our hands and step into the water.

Thank you, Elaini, for stretching our your hand.  Thank you, Warm Blankets, for being the means through which Elaini’s efforts reach those who need help.  Thank you, Lord, for parting the waters and multiplying our limited reach.

You all challeng me to stretch.

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