Last week I was at one of our squatter village sites, walking with an unbelievably gifted professional photographer (check out his pictures), helping him capture some images that could translate their world into ours.
I was struck by the poverty, which I have walked among for a decade now, but some days it can still make the breath in me escape. Another friend who was with me challenged me to always articulate a theology that reflects the reality of what I am seeing. Since our theme this year is shelter the question begs How is He sheltering these forgotten people? How am I inserting my ideas of shelter into the Psalm 91 passage? How can shelter be metaphorical, even metaphysical?
We walked a little farther and I saw a little girl, around eight years old, kneeling outside of her shack, filling up an old Coke bottle with water. “Can we take your picture?” I kneel down and ask her. At that moment, I see her eyes for the first time. Haunted. Hunted. Empty. Lonely.
“That’s the unmistakable look of a sexual abuse victim,” I whisper to my friend. She was shaking her head quietly, signaling to us to move on. We honor her and pass by.
A 100 yards later, I turn my head and see a man beside her, big, angry, with a stick in his hand, swinging it, looking at us. “God!” I just cry out in my spirit, wondering what I can or should do.
Shelter. What does it look like? For her? For me?
I come home and search for answers. I want the wisdom to handle myself well when confronted with those situations. I read promises in Proverbs about searching out wisdom like a hidden treasure. I am on the hunt.
My friend, Jenny sends me this quote from Brennan Manning’s book, Ruthless Trust.
“The theological arguments that support an interventionary God are many and varied. Frequently people report that they have experienced a physical cure or inner healing. And they have. “Yet” as John Shea writes, “one brutal historical fact remains-Jesus is mercilessly nailed to the cross and despite legions of angels, God did not save him from that hour… This side of the grave Jesus is left totally invalidated by the Lord of heaven and earth. Trust in God does not presume that God will intervene.” Often trust begins on the far side of despair. When all human resources are exhausted, when the craving for reassurances is stifled, when we forgo control, when we cease trying to manipulate God and demystify Mystery, then, at our wits end, trust happens within us, and the untainted cry, “Abba, into your hands I commend my spirit,” surges from the heart.”
I am there. Even as I write this, I feel the trust swell within me, there are answers to my questions, there is hope for that little girl, there is a theology that understands the injustice in the world. I don’t have to know all the answers to the when, the why or the where. I just have to believe in the Who.