reflections from the prayer room: humanity
Today I am reminded of my humanity, and in fact, beyond that, our humanity as a human race.
I had to scale back today, to push back some commitments and only fulfill my responsibilities of language school, because I was too tired and needed to take it easy. So I slept most of the day, only using enough energy to get me through language class in the afternoon and then some homework, dinner, and prayer tonight. Even had to turn down playing basketball with people from my church and some Australian visitors.
Today reminded me of my own humanity because I was reminded of my limitations, my weaknesses, and one of my ‘thorns in the flesh’ (health) that the Lord uses to keep me humble and dependent on Him for my strength. (The other ‘thorn’ has been relationships and singleness, which has also flared up numerous times since arriving here in the Philippines about four and a half months ago.)
This recognition of my humanity, of how ‘insignificant’ I am compared with God and His glory, has been a constant theme for me since coming to Manila. But the Lord has been using these weaknesses to strengthen me as a human and as a servant of Him and His Kingdom. And as a way to make less of me and more of Him, so that I might join with the Psalmist in saying, “To Him who ALONE DOES GREAT WONDERS. His love endures forever.” (Ps 136:7)
I was also reminded of our shared humanity today. As I walked down the main street in Tatalon from my house to the church to pray (a walk I’ve been taking more recently since starting at the prayer chain), I couldn’t help but notice how rich of a community I have been placed during this time in my life. All “special revelation” aside, that is, the effect of the gospel and Kingdom has had on changing the spiritual and even social/physical climate of Tatalon, Tatalon is a rich community where the young children play freely on the streets, running to and fro, the older children help their parents with tending to their family businesses, study in their homes, do chores around the house, and occupy the many internet cafes around Tatalon (like many young people around the world now a days in the information age).
Then there are the Nanays (mothers) that take care of the homes and their younger children, do the laundry, cook the food, and keep up on the local news or happenings in the community. And finally the Tatays (fathers) who work hard (often for little pay) to provide for their families. Admittedly, there are those in the community (many actually), that hinder their potential as caretakers or providers or students by participating in the vices of gambling, drinking, or simply standing around (called tambays). Thankfully these activities have been going down here over the years, but they point to the remaining effects of the fallen nature of our humanity as well.
In many ways, life here is not that much different from how it is back home. Beyond maybe our more individualistic approach to life back in the States (verses their communal aspect here), life is really just a large web of relationships, interactions, and daily activities providing for the richness of our shared humanity. And yet often the fallenness of it too.
As part of a shared humanity, I believe there are things that we can’t avoid, shouldn’t avoid, and should avoid.
In all places there are the basic obligations that we can’t avoid. Things like family, work, health, play, and survival.
Then there are obligations that we shouldn’t avoid - like providing for the poor, feeding the hungry, caring for the sick, housing the homeless, and visiting the prisoner. In all places of the world that I’ve been, these people on the margins are not far away, if not on our doorsteps.
And of course, there are things that we should avoid, like violence against humanity and our neighbor, greed, hoarding, war, and international conflict.
Because of these three things, humanity supersedes time and space. The fact that it is shared across cities, countries, and continents, not to mention generations and historical timelines, forces us to look beyond our own communities to others where we find that the world is much more interconnected and interdependent that our often limited habitats of life, work, and play lead on.
As a Christian, I am encouraged by God’s invitation to us to join in His work of the reconciliation of all things and all people. Coming through His ‘revealed’ and ‘proclaimed’ Son, Jesus Christ, we have been given the opportunity to work toward a world where the things we shouldn’t avoid become commonplace, the things we should avoid fade away, and the things we can’t avoid remind us that we all come from the dirt and return to it, yet that this life is a mere shadow of our life to come.
“All this (new Creation) is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.” – 2 Cor 5:18