Monday, March 1, 2010

Earthquake Grace

On January 27, 16 year-old Darlene Etienne was pulled alive from the rubble after Haiti's January 12 earthquake. She had spent 15 days under a collapsed building without food or water. Then all was quiet.

A week went by ... and then more. Then on February 10, an emaciated 28-year-old man named Evans Monsigrace was pulled from the ruins of a marketplace where he had been cooking rice when the earthquake struck. He had survived 27 days buried in debris. I am wondering what similar stories will emerge from the Chilean earthquake.

Jesus said, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled." He is not talking about the growling of our stomachs when we miss a meal. He is speaking about the way that these Haitian earthquake victims hungered and thirsted, the way that some Chileans are hungering and thirsting at this moment.

I am amused by the nonchalance of the spiritual quest in America. I have seldom met anyone who hungers and thirsts for righteousness. I have met people who said they were on a spiritual search. I met people who were looking for a church, specifically one that "met their needs," by which they meant a congregation that had people, programs and facilities they liked.

Churches are now trained to attract such "seekers." Churches serve up seeker-sensitive worship services and seeker-friendly sermons. But my impression of seekers is that they are like people perusing at a department store. When asked if they need assistance, their reply is "Just looking, thanks." No urgency in the search. They are taking their time. They are shopping, not hungering. Jesus says that only those who hunger and thirst will be filled.

I don't want to get too theological here. People who truly hunger and thirst do not care what the food  is called or the list of ingredients in the drink. They just want to be filled. In ordinary language, righteousness is a sense of rightness on the inside that corresponds to a state of rightness on the outside. When we are right with God, then all is right with our souls. As the old hymn says, "It is well.... it is well with my soul."

Humans are trapped in the wreckage of a fallen world. We are trapped in the dark. We lay helpless in the ruins of our lives, hungering and thirsting and praying for rescue.  Sometimes by the grace of God, our cries are heard, and we are pulled emaciated from the rubble.

Evans Monsigrace's rescue is being called a miracle; he is being called the "miracle man of Haiti." I feel the same way about my rescue. It takes a miracle to save a person who thinks he is a seeker.

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