Last Friday 9 kids, 7 teenagers, 4 adults and several backpacks and suitcases piled into our cab-and-a-half 2001 Toyota pickup to drive the Living Waters Ranch’s young singers from our rural town of El Pino about 20 miles to the city of La Ceiba for a musical performance at a local concert.
The drive, of course, took closer to an hour one-way as our truck moaned and wobbled up long, rocky, trash-littered side roads as we made house-stops to pick up each of our neighbors from their home, most living in shanties accompanied by more than a few family members, emaciated dogs, extremely free-roam chickens and welll-experienced clothes hung on the line or on barbed-wire fences.
The children and youth that you will see in the video links below in bow-ties and spotless white shirts typically spend their days in dirty, ragged clothes wandering aimlessly around those same long, rocky, trash-littered side roads, working occasionally with a machete or struggling to learn how to read for the first time at age 14.
We came to know each one of them because at some point amid their long, directionless days they wandered up to our front gate at the end of our long, rocky, trash-littered road.
One by one they’ve come over the last year or so, and to be impiously honest, I had hoped that they wouldn’t come, that one more undisciplined youth wouldn’t come up to our front gate under the guise of looking for something.
Because I knew that what they really needed wasn’t a cup of water or a hot lunch or a pay-by-the-day job ‘chopping’ our yard with a machete or an afternoon of rough-housing with our kids. They needed guidance, the kind of day-after-day, show-up-at-all-the-most-inconvenient-times, cling-onto-you-because-few-others-pay-any-attention kind of guidance, the kind of shepherding into Christ’s fold in which one minute the sheep want to belong to the flock and the next they have split from the herd to play tag with the roving wolves.
I was busy — am busy — learning how to parent a teenager, a special needs child and three others thrown in the mix, trying to figure out how to wash the dishes with buckets of water because the running water went out once more, trying against all logic to keep a perpetually dirty house clean, juggling teaching and coaching in the local Episcopal School with life at home, making more than my share of mistakes as I learn how to direct a small Honduran foundation, and struggling night after night through bitter insomnia and various sicknesses.
But nonetheless they came, some lethargically accompanying our neighbor’s cowherd as they sauntered across our property, others simply standing eagerly outside of our gate waiting to see if someone would come greet them.
And so, this past Friday evening after the concert as our young singers let loose and ran about wildly around the playground of the facility where the concert had been held and I click-clacked out in my long dress and nice sandals to round ’em all up and head home, God’s will hit me hard, like an unexpected blow to the solar plexus: as they all came bounding toward me, ranging in age between 7-16, I knew for the first time beyond any hint of a doubt that these rogue neighbors of ours are just as much ours as the five who live under our roof. Not ‘ours’ in any sense of ownership, but in the sense that we are responsible to God for shepherding them. As much as I have resisted, as much as I have complained during the grueling process of learning how to love and respect one another, as much as limits have been set and broken and re-adjusted, as much as they’ve yelled too loud and hit the soccer ball up under the roof overhang too many times, as often as they’ve showed up way too early in the morning, as often as I’ve selfishly put my own well-being before theirs, and whether my flesh likes it or not, this gaggle of lost hooligans has been entrusted under our care just as much as those whom I tuck into bed each night.
So on the ride home, as little 7-year-old Paola sat in my lap and Darwin drove slowly through the night, our car’s joints creaking and complaining under the weight of so many passengers, my heart rejoiced. My heart rejoiced in the Lord because I finally get it.
As we passed slowly, windows rolled down, through the main drag in our neighborhood — which can be likened to a steaming pot of sin, violence and despair — the song drifting powerfully from our car’s stereo proclaimed over and again the God of the impossible, and I couldn’t agree more. As we passed by the newly-constructed open-air bar that now occupies what used to be the local boys’ dirt soccer field, loud music about who-knows-what invaded our open windows and effortlessly drowned out the voice that proclaimed the God of the impossible.
That is just like the world, isn’t it? With all the noise in our hearts, our heads, in the media, the race for bigger and more, our overriding need for ‘security’, the desire for human omnipotence, we think we are drowning out the God of the impossible, as if we must only make enough clatter in order to have somehow overpowered Him, swapped our place from created to Creator.
And I smiled, little light-as-a-feather Paola in my lap, the humid night air seeping into our pores, as I became filled with glee, convinced I shared a secret with the Almighty that few others seem to know.
Because the truth is actually just the opposite.
The God of the impossible cannot, will not, be drowned out by human babblings. He existed before and will exist after human reason — He created the earth upon which that bar shanty was constructed, and His winds, rain and justice will someday bring it down. He brings lost boys and girls home, enables rotten mouths to proclaim songs of praise, brings together His scattered people from all tribes, tongues and nations into one united family. He sets the orphans in families and turns neglected boys raised by tired mothers and absent fathers into faithful husbands and loving fathers. The God of the impossible does not grow weary even when we do; He performed the impossible task of granting something as dangerous as free will to a being as disobedient as the human, and then re-defined ‘impossible’ by sacrificing His own son to bring the prodigals home.
So last Friday as we retraced those long, rocky, trash-littered side roads to drop our young singers off to unknown home lives, I entrusted my heart to the God of the impossible and participated in the dangerous task of looking upon each of their moonlit faces as they jumped out of the truckbed and came to my rolled-down window to say “goodnight” with the same love in which I look upon each of our own children.
[Below you will find the links to watch a few videos taken during the concert.]