Today’s post is late because I rewrote it 4 times. Which is sort of the point of the post…
See, the thing I really want to talk about today just keeps coming out wrong. This time I’ve decided to just boldly say it. I’m not going to try and entertain you or build a narrative. I’m going to violate everything Malcolm Gladwell would tell you makes a great story. So what is it I have to say? You don’t care.
No, for real. You don’t. And that doesn’t differentiate us; I don’t care, either. I rewrote it four times because it matters too much to get wrong, but I realized that if it takes that much manipulation then there’s something wrong here. And that brings me to our absolute lack of caring.
What I’ve Done
A couple weeks ago I was with my wife taking pictures at Lake Ray Hubbard, a local lake east of Dallas. We were trying to get some good sunset pictures at this great pier spot:
That last picture, right at the bottom toward the left, you can barely see the top of something in the water. I saw it, too, and so I backed up to look at it. It was a barge of some sort, and I decided to try and get some sunset snaps of it. Here’s where the story takes a left turn.
One More Light
If you read that banner, it says Lastwell.org. If you go to that site you can find out more about a truly noble mission by some of those millennial “snowflakes” (the ones the hardline right wing is so fanatical about tearing down) to bring clean drinking water to the entire nation of Liberia by 2020. The barge was occupied by one Todd Phillips, the President of LastWell and a former teaching pastor in Washington, D.C. where said millennials approached him with this idea to do something big.
Todd was living out on the water fundraising for the mission for 28 days. They reached their $2.3 million goal 5 days after I took these pics, and he’s now back warm and safe with his family. The craziest thing is: I had heard this man tell this story on the radio literally 24 hours before I took these pictures. And yet, seeing the barge, I had no idea what the story was.
I would like to give a million reasons I didn’t recall the purpose of the boat, but the only one that’s real and true is that while the story of this guy leading some young people to do this amazing thing impacted me, touched me to the point of tears, it wasn’t a thing I really cared about. Not enough to remember an extremely memorable web address. That hit me in the chest.
I have been working for months to build the Mission: Zer0 brand, build the YouTube channel, and really build a following that will help spread the messages. Not because I care about being famous — I actually would prefer not to be — but because I get this ache in my heart every time I see people being snide, or fighting, or disparaging God or religion, or using God as a sword to stab at people. The divisions between us hurt me deeply. I write here, I make videos, I do all of what I do because I want to see God heal those divisions, and He works through people. I just need people to understand that.
What hit me about Todd’s mission is that he feels the same. And if I, a person who can deeply relate, can’t be bothered to care about his mission then how can I expect anyone to care to watch or share my messages? How can I ask people to propagate the words of the Spirit when I, myself, bypass them?
At the end of the day we care only about our sphere of influence. Anything that falls outside just isn’t really there. Or anyone. I recently spent a good bit of time hurt over the fact that a person I respected treated me like dirt. Twice made plans with me, and twice not only stood me up but failed to ever address it. This was in the midst of me being in a deep depression and feeling a lot of worthlessness. It stuck with me. That this person who claimed to care about me would treat me like I didn’t even exist, wasn’t even worthy of an apology, hurt.
When I had this realization about Lastwell I realized that I just fell outside this person’s sphere the same way Todd fell outside mine. They didn’t see me as having a real impact in their life so I became a blind spot. I have no doubt it wasn’t malicious, but it highlights to me that we all have these blind-spots. Billions of them. They are called our neighbors. I have no idea how many people have been hurt when I blind-spotted them. Or how many more may be in the future.
Pushing Me Away
My wife once said something quite profound to me: “you don’t think you do, but you have people in your wake.” At the time I took the point that I have definitely not always been a great person, and I have hurt people. Sometimes physically. I realize now that it was deeper: I have missed people; battered them with the lack of seeing them. I know what it means to feel invisible, and the idea that I could do that to another person is appalling. But sure as sugar it’s happened.
So do we just let that go? Do we just accept it? That, like the bubbles in a bath after a long time, we’re just separate little clumps and we get farther from each other every week, every day, every hour?
80 people. At least 80 people die to suicide every single hour on earth. Every hour. In the time you’ve been reading this there’s been close to 10, at least one of them here in these United States. They are just little soap bubbles who floated away from their clump and popped. Do we just live with that? Just wait until we’ve all but dissipated and the bath water is drained? I don’t accept that. I won’t. And I won’t let any of you.
Breaking the Habit
People falling to suicide. People dying from lack of clean water. Human trafficking claiming thousands of girls and boys across the globe. All of these things happen specifically because they fall outside what we see as our sphere of influence. We have taken to heart this idea that we are not our brother’s keeper. But that was never, ever true. It was not true when Cain scolded God with it, and it’s not true when we scold Him with it today.
I couldn’t write the post I wanted to write, needed to write, because you wouldn’t have listened. You think you would have, but you wouldn’t. Because my soap bubble is way over there. So we have to fix this first. We have to bring each other closer together. We need to rejuvenate our bubbles! The way we do that is by really seeing each other, really hearing each other, really reaching out to each other. That’s the mission now. That’s what we need to fix. I need to see and hear you, and I need you to see and hear me.
Somewhere I Belong
The numbness won’t stand. I won’t let it. And you can’t, either. I don’t have the answer of how we put that into practice. I just know we have to. And we have to do it together. So here is my challenge, here is my exhortation to us all: pick one of these things that strikes you. Helping to bring water to those without it, helping to combat suicide and depression and anxiety in our community, helping to stop human trafficking, or helping to bring people closer together. Make a promise to me, to God, and more importantly: to yourself to make a difference to it.
None of these things are hard. Oh, sure, they have tendrils, they have complications. But all of them service God’s will. All of them conform to the order Jesus gave us all. These are the missions of the Lord, and all He requires are hands and feet. You don’t even have to reinvent the wheel: you can sign on with an existing team at one of the links I’ve cited throughout. But we need to do it, not throw money at it. Get involved. Make a phone call and ask how to help.
I’m serious. I’m taking this on, myself. The idea that 2 billion Christians have not solved this water thing really cuts me to the core, and I can’t let it go. One of these things has the same effect on you if you think about it. So don’t just think about it anymore. Stand up for us. Reach out and pull us all closer together.
I pray this hits you. Hard. I pray you take this up. I pray that you will take that step to impact lives, because you will impact lives for the better.
Father, in the name of Your mighty Son, Your Word, Your chosen Christ and my brother, my King, my Savior, and my Teacher, Jesus, I pray all these things and more. Amen!