"We are going to focus on LIFE for Katya. I believe, one day, she will amaze the world."

Dr. Ben Carson on Katya Dueck

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Simplicity and Thankfulness

When we were in Ukraine adopting Katya, we attended a local Ukrainian church. We were so blessed to be there each time, even though we could not understand near all that was said. Still, we sensed the Spirit of God there, and our souls were blessed each week by being there.

One Sunday after the service, they drove out into forest to have a picnic after church. Paul and I were invited to come along, and we thought that it would be a great privilege to tag along.

So, everyone loaded up into vehicles and soon we were off the main roads in the village, and bumping along an increasingly bumpy track through the forest. As we went along through the birch trees, you could see small groups off here and there to the sides playing, or eating in sunny clearings.

Eventually, our small convey arrived at our own glen, and the vehicles were parked, a table unloaded, and food laid out.

Paul and I looked at the food that was laid out, and then at the crowd. "That's going to be a skimpy meal compared to potlucks we are used to!" one of us whispered quietly to the other. "No joke!" the other agreed.

Everything looked delicious, but there just was not that much of it for the amount of people we had present.

Suddenly, the relatively quiet glen was full of laughing, talking children that had not been there before! The children were greeted warmly and it was obvious that they were known to the church people.

A message was whispered to us: "The AWANA children showed up unexpectedly, and we want to let them eat first because many of them live on the streets and are hungry. Please let them eat first and we will eat what is left."

"Oh this is going to get VERY interesting!" I thought to myself, comparing the calm, matter of fact approach to the anxiousness that I could just imagine might accompany a similar situation in America as everyone saw the limited amounts of food begin to disappear.

As you can see, the influx was significant. The food rapidly began to disappear.

By the time the kids had gotten food, there was not much left. Each of the grown ups took a single tiny slice of bread, with a slice of meat and cheese, and then a vegetable piece or two, and a single cookie.

There was no way it was enough food to do more than take the merest edge off of the hunger. But no one was upset. No one panicked and rushed back to town to try to purchase more food. Everyone ate thankfully amid happy conversation about how the kids had shown up and how wonderful that was.

When each person's meager amount of food was finished, the guitars were broken out, and people took their places on logs and we began to sing together.

There in the woods, as we sang our songs of Praise and Worship to God, my heart was full of joy. Yes, I was still hungry. But it was OK. I had seen the body of Christ in action and my heart was full.

The simplicity of the meal to begin with was beautiful to behold. Each person had brought what they could bring . . . whether it was green onions or radishes from their gardens, or a little meat and bread. No, it was not enough for us all to be comfortably full, but we shared, we had enough to survive and we were able to sit in the beautiful spring sunshine and worship God together in peace.

There was peace. There was joy. There was fellowship.

What more did we need, really?

I think about this day often. It has impacted Paul's and my life deeply in ways that put us at odds with the typical culture of the day in our lives. The simplicity. The thankfulness even for what little there was, because the focus was on the fact that the kids had arrived and needed to be fed . . . To me, I think the Lord Jesus might have felt very at home and at peace breaking bread with us that day. I think He would have approved of the humble sharing of what each person had, and what they could do, and I know He would have approved of us sharing with the kids with joy and thankfulness.

Our hearts are hungry for more of that simple humbleness. Our hearts are hungry to be able to live in such a real manner, and to just accept what is available with out stress or panic if it seems "not enough".I'm still struggling to figure out how this can be lived out for me practically in my present culture. I sure don't fee like I have the answers, but I do have the longing.


Lorene Horst said...

No comments? Really?
I am so glad to see you write about this. I too am not sure how to address and live like this but I think it is very much acting like Jesus. Not that I think it is wrong to live in a land of plenty. Just how can we portray Jesus which is what these people did...

Milena said...

Such a beautiful story! What could be more important than feeding the hungry - so often we ourselves forget this. Thank you for sharing!

Hope Anne said...

Lorene, to me, it was the ability they all had to simply be "real" with what was "in their hands" to bring. I wonder if we all were able to live more like that how it could impact our lives for good?? I know only too well the pressure to cough up food we do not have for church functions at times, and I find it painful and stressful. Church fellowship should not be like that, in my opinion, and we would all do well to live more humbly, more simply, and with more "reality" and "awareness" of the needs of others around us. As I said, I do NOT have all the answers, but I am striving and seeking . . . and being thoughtful and intentional . . .