The delivery man calls me at 5 pm. “You’ve got a package. Come to Gate #1 to get it.”
We all know that when the delivery man calls, it doesn’t matter what you are doing- you drop it and you run.
I hurry out the door only to wait in the hallway for the elevator to make its way up to our floor, the 26th. Then we go all the way back down the 26 floors.
Once outside, I walk past the gathering of toddlers and grandparents who’ve all come out for free pink balloons.
Step over puddles of water left by the cleaning staff as they’ve tried, in vain, to scrub the sidewalks.
Out the #1 gate to the green EMS van that has seen better days. The delivery man is leaning against the side, waiting.
“You called me for a delivery?” I ask.
“Yes. Please verify your name.” I chuckle at this because who else around here is going to have an English name? But I confirm it nonetheless and sign the papers.
The box is heavy. The kids are going to be excited. It’s from Grandma.
As soon as I walk in the front door, they are all over me. “Who’s it from? Who’s it from?” they pester like hungry chicks.
I tell them it’s from Grandma as I cut the tape and peel back the flaps.
What I don’t tell them is that it’s really from ME, that I bought the stuff inside the box.
During the back to school sale last month, I ordered them winter clothes. I asked Grandma to wrap them, not to deceive the kids into thinking they were from her, but to help the items get through Customs. Grandma was kind enough to wrap and send them, and to include a little note, stickers, and gum from herself.
The kids are all gathered around the box and when they see wrapped gifts, they squeal. “SEE?! SHE HASN’T FORGOTTEN ABOUT US!”
One of them whoops and they all jump for delight, up and down, more happy to know they are not forgotten than for the actual presents in the box.
It doesn’t hurt me until later.
After they’ve tried on the jeans I bought and smelled the soaps I ordered, I feel an ache inside at the realization. My kids feel forgotten.
Have you ever felt forgotten? It hurts.
When the world makes a big deal about Miley Cyrus and Katy Perry while this woman sits hungry and nameless in prison because she’s said no to fame and fortune and yes to Jesus… how are we not to hurt?
When we praise the rich and famous… the smart and beautiful… what are the vulnerable fighting for our scraps to feel?
When we esteem those with smooth talks and suave appearances, when we give space, time, and money to those of influence and talent but marginalize those who aren’t so impressive?
When 91% of all global Christian outreach and evangelism does not target non-Christians but targets other Christians,** many of those in wealthy countries with ample access to the gospel, are we even thinking about the forgotten ones at all?
Are we happy and willing to go to the same “Christian” places with the good news yet draw the line at sacrificing to go to those hard-to-reach places?
The facts say we are.
Is says our Christian American dream is to be successful authors and multi-million dollar pastors and household-named spiritual leaders and reality TV superstars and comfortable church attenders but not bond-servants of Jesus Christ to the neediest in the world.
Meanwhile, is Jesus crying because He’s laboring in the child camp and wondering when someone will simply remember? Come? Leave the 99 safe in the fold to go after the one?
Is Jesus hurting because He’s there in the shack with the shivering widow, He’s there thirsting with the needy, He’s there lonely with the orphan?
Does His heart ache because He’s in that remote village without access to the gospel and His children, who are supposed to be salt and light, won’t leave the comforts of wealth to go share it?
Whatever happened to taking light into darkness, going out to the highways and byways, compelling others to come in? Because there’s still room at the table.
When the least of these is overlooked, Jesus is overlooked. And when the persecuted are forgotten, Jesus is forgotten. And when someone thirsts because no water is being given, because we are vying for attention instead of SERVING JESUS, Jesus thirsts.
Church, let’s stop playing our spiritual looking games and let’s be honest.
Because Church, we are commanded to remember.
We aren’t commanded to fish from the same Christian pool and prime the pocketbooks so we can build our own little kingdoms.
We need to be about a different mission than the American Dream tailored to fit the American Christian.
If you’ve known what it feels like to be forgotten, be the first one to go to the forgotten.
If you’ve been thirsty, be the first to give a cup of cold water.
If you’ve been lonely, be the first to go to the lonely.
And this morning, on a forgotten morning on the backside of nowhere, I stir grits over the stove. I pop bread in the oven for toast and we sit down to breakfast.
“Lord, thank You for this food,” I pray. And it strikes me then, the weight and glory of not being forgotten. The joy, the relief.
The celebration. The wonder.
“Lord, thank You for sending us this food, and all the way from America! Thank you for people who went to their little grocery store and bought this box of grits and packed them in a box and paid way too much to ship them so we can sit here this morning and know WE ARE NOT FORGOTTEN.”
“And Almighty God, Thank You that we could have been born anywhere, but we were born in a place where the gospel has come to us… because You have not forgotten. Let our hands and feet today go to someone else to let them know they too, are not forgotten.”
We say amen and I see the children’s faces beaming.
The joy of the remembered ones shining light in the darkness.
Please remember just one:
Friends, Mr.Gao desperately needs our prayers. Let’s not let him be a forgotten one! He was released from prison Aug 7 but is completely destroyed physically and mentally from the torture he endured for several years. Please, please take a moment to read his story and pray for him and his family.
**Statistic from David Barrett, Todd Johnson, and Peter Crossing, “Missiometrics 2008:Reality Checks for Christian World Communions” International Bulletin of Missionary Research, Jan 2008, p29