Life with Jesus

She’s Bought the Field

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. Matthew 13:44

 

“Are you ready to go?” I asked of the Liberian woman who was waiting patiently in the foyer of my workplace. “Yeah! Let’s go!”, she said as we headed towards my car parked in the six car garage reserved for staff.

Once we were settled in the car and on our way to the vocational orientation meeting at HIS Bridgebuilders, she updated me with her current job situation.  She loves her job. She works around people. She’s a hard worker. Her co-workers love her.

But her employer slashed her hours in half two months ago and she has been struggling to make ends meet ever since.

She lives alone. She’s locked into a lease that she can just barely afford. Someone gave her a car, but can she afford the gasoline?I’ve been working with getting her connected with resources in the community but nothing has really stuck and so we scheduled to go to this orientation together this morning.

She is loud and joyful and funny. Her stories are colorful. She draws you in.

When we got to the pre-fab building in an industrial park, she exclaimed, “How beautiful!” We signed in and took our seats in the room. We were very early and so we had time to talk.

She told me that she was not able to go to school as a child because she was born into a poor family. When civil war hit her country in 1989, her life was thrown into upheaval. She spent several years in a hellish refugee camp in Ghana, trying to survive with her young daughter. When the UN finally approved her to come to the US, she landed in Indiana and has been working as hard as she can ever since.  “Life has been hard for me, but it has made me stronger”, she asserted.

We had been talking about her job, but she stopped and said, “I really want to share my passion, my dream with you.”

And so she started talking about her war-torn homeland of Liberia.

“I want to build an orphanage in my village. And a school! And a clinic! I want to help my people realize that they do not have to live in poverty. I want to show them that they have value.”

As she continued talking about her plans, of paying Liberian hands to do the work of building, of hiring Liberian professionals to work in the clinics and the schools, her eyes lit up. “I know that this will happen. Every night, when I close my eyes, God shows me what it will look like. I know it might take a long time, but God gave me this dream for a reason.”

It became increasingly evident that this woman is not interested in achieving the American dream for herself. It’s probably never even crossed her mind that she could spend money on herself. When she speaks about her current financial situation, she has regrets about not being able to save money for this school. She knows that God will take care of her.

In fact, she said, “Even if I was homeless (a very real possibility if this job situation doesn’t get worked out), it would be okay because I can always get food here. I want my people to have access to self-sufficiency. I want the Liberian children to know that they are worth something and they can do something. I don’t want my people to starve. I will lay down my life for others. That is more important to me than having a home.”

At this point, I had to tell her to stop because I was on the verge of tears.

Here she is, teetering on the edge of homelessness herself, and all of her concern, her entire focus, is on this dream that God has given her. She will pursue it at all costs, regardless of what that means for her personally.

She has discovered the treasure of the kingdom and she has bought the field.

She does not have #firstworldproblems. She has experienced #developingworldproblems- crushing poverty, widespread violence against women, starvation, health problems without access to medical care, terrible atrocities.

If any of us have the right to complain about the lot we were given, it is her.

She is grateful for the things God has given her, not because they are for her, but because He has given her the opportunity to put others before herself.

She has discovered the treasure of the kingdom and she has bought the field.

I held it together at work, but I came home and cried because I was so humbled. In comparison to hers, my faith is a tiny mustard seed. I pat myself on the back for using reusable paper towels and there are other disciples of Jesus who are willing to risk homelessness if it means putting the poor above themselves.

Following Jesus, when boiled down to the simplistic “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself'” seems so easy and yet, at the same time, so hard.  We tack on all the amendments and addendums, a laundry list of what’s allowed and what’s not. 

What if following Jesus was just as simple as it sounds? What if we just followed the commandment to put others before ourselves? What if we took Jesus literally at His word?

She has discovered the treasure of the kingdom and she has bought the field.

We can too.

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