Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Instant Gratification

My nephew recently moved to Antarctica as a fireman.  We have eagerly watched the webcam most afternoons at 2:30 to see him walk from his barracks across the snowy street to the fire station for work. It never occurred to us that the government shutdown would affect him at the southernmost end of the earth. Much to our surprise, we found out a few days ago that the work force would be drastically reduced and all but a handful of people would be sent home.  Sam is one of the few who will remain in that frozen wonderland.  

Suddenly, the shutdown has become a totally different situation.  It is no longer a vague argument in Washington.  In an instant, someone I love dearly has been affected by the wrangling.  I do not pretend to know how to fix the whole jumbled mess, but I wish I did.  My world was already filled with local politics, community development, medical practice, faith, ministry, and (especially) my wonderful and brilliant Georgia Tech senior son, not to mention my constant blogging.  The shutdown has shoved its way into my very full life, and it has greatly increased my interest in both what happens in Washington and when the decision to compromise will come.  Jobs, security, paychecks have all taken a priority.  I'm checking national news much more frequently now.  

Imagine my surprise when I saw this quote on the New York Times today.  The article was about expanding the whole "one-click shopping" process.  See it in a magazine, want it, just scan a code in the ad to purchase it.  There were multiple ideas for making the purchasing quicker and easier.  Matt McKenna is the founder and president of a marketing agency specializing in digital and mobile marketing.  He was quoted as saying, "The whole world right now is about instant gratification."  

I laughed out loud when I saw this.  The whole world?  Was he kidding?  He has obviously never heard of (or at least never understood) Afghanistan, or Sudan, or Uganda.  People around the world are dying of malaria, AIDS, starvation.  They are desperate to find food for their children's next meal.  I guess the unrelenting hunger that robs you of life and health is a kind of desperate instant gratification. Desperate to be instantly gratified by a few grains of rice or a small bowl of beans.  

The dichotomy is astounding to me, and I, too, am as guilty as Matt McKenna.  When all we see is our tiny section of the world, it's hard to realize there is an entire globe filled with people who are suffering and perishing from treatable diseases and losing their children to malnutrition while we combat an epidemic of morbid obesity.  

We could change the world if we would.  I've believed that all my life, and I still do.  Jesus took twelve of the least likely men in the world, trained them for three years, and radically transformed the world through them.  We could live like Jesus said, do what He said to do, and make a difference.  If we saw every person through Christ's eyes, wouldn't they look different?  Wouldn't we respond differently?  If we loosened the hold on the gifts God has given us, wouldn't we be freer?  Wouldn't we feed and clothe those in need more effectively?  What if we decided to teach the hungry how to make a living for themselves, or helped to provide livestock for families in third world countries?  We could transform our world, if we would.

Tonight, I am asking you to step up to meet the needs around you.  Loosen your hold on the life you are living, and allow Jesus to do whatever He wants with His things and His gifts.  Sponsor a child through a relief agency and commit to provide for them until they can provide for themselves.  Invest yourself, not just your discarded clothes and household goods, with local charities.  Serve Thanksgiving Dinner at the Salvation Army this year.  Help with a food pantry. Visit a nursing home and hold the hand of an elderly person who feels forgotten and alone.

We could transform our world, if we would.  If you would.  It only takes one to make a difference.  I am asking you tonight to choose to be the one.