22 September 2010

Sheep or Goat?

'CoverCover via Amazon
This week Sarah, Jason and more of us are reading Chapter 4 of The Hole in Our Gospel by Richard Stearns.

Stearns discusses one of my favourite and also most sobering scenes of Jesus:

When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'

"Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'

"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'

"Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.'

"They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?'

"He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'

"Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."
Matthew 25:31-46 NIV

My prayer has always been that I would draw close enough to my Lord to feel the beating of His heart and in so doing, my heart would be moved and broken by anything that stirs Him. I have wondered what would the least of these look like? Would I walk right past a hungry Jesus because I did not recognize Him?

Born, raised and still living in North America, I know that even those of us in the worst situations are rich beyond measure compared to third world nations, yet we still have those who are the least of these. Help us Lord to seek what You would have us do.

Then Richard Stearns proceeds to paint a picture of one of his own encounters with the least of these, young men that had been kidnapped and turned into rebel soldiers by the LRA in Northern Uganda. I could hardly read through my tears, for my heart had been likewise torn when I was right there in Gulu in 2007, visiting a similar rehabilitation centre.

Here are words I journaled while in Uganda:

The other evening the shapes in the clouds looked to be God’s hands reaching down from the heavens, and surely God’s hand IS on this nation. There is a stirring, a shaking, a hope in the midst of desolation. When God is all there is then God is enough. If anything else is placed above Him, then nothing is enough. He is, as He says in His Word, a jealous God, and He will have no other gods before Him. I believe and I will declare that His favour will rest upon this place.

The heart of Uganda appears in the faces of the children; smiles in the midst of deprivation, laughter rising up from a belly never filled with food enough. Tears of need and tears of sorrow, but joy returning upon the simplest act of kindness.Can we learn to need so little? Our hope could be their hope – to find our strength and joy in Him alone. It is as if they already do so, even those that cannot tell you why.

Oh Uganda, release yourself into His hands. “Pearl of Africa” is what a local billboard called you. Shine with the luster of a pearl polished by the Master’s hand. Shine as a witness to the darkness. Shine in the light of His love that more would be drawn to the light. Blossom and prosper as a sign even to the “first world” nations – “Look what our God can do”

Here I find a stillness. Here I find a peace. Here perhaps I will find a pathway that leads me to the heart of God.

I pray that the scent, sound and sights of Uganda do not leave me until I return again to do whatever God calls me to.

Stop by Sarah's Living Between the Lines to read the thoughts other people share about Chapter 4.

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Sandra Heska King said...

"Would I walk right past a hungry Jesus because I did not recognize Him?"

I'm afraid I might.

Heart wrenching post.

jasonS said...

Powerful words, Karin. It all takes on new meaning when we see those types of situations, but like you said, we can't miss them right where we are as well. Thank you!

JC Dude said...

Karin...that was so moving...I'm sure your heart broke with the things of God. Thanks for sharing!

Sarah Salter said...

Karin, thank you for sharing this! Especially your words that were written in Uganda resounded in me because I have been there. Not to Uganda specifically, but in the most desperate, dark places in the world, where we light a match and plead for the kindling to catch and start a fire that changes the world.

I love you, Karin! You have the heart of Jesus and I can't tell you how much that moves me!

Jingle said...

moving and powerful post.
you have a kind heart and loving spirits, which is very unique!

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