SixEight Life

justice.mercy.journey

{archives} One: Twenty-seven

Author’s note: This post was originally written on October 12, 2008. 
Does scripture ever come alive for you? Have you ever experienced something tangibly that is written in God’s Word? I hope many of you have tasted the sweetness of salvation, but in our lives with Jesus, sometimes God’s word is so clearly reflected on this Earth that it’s hard to deny who He is and how powerful His Word is. I put James 1:27 to memory some months ago. “Pure and faultless religion is this: to care for widows and orphans in their distress, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.” So often times us ‘progressive’ Christians balk at the word ‘Religion’, but we are part of a ‘religion’. And our actions reflect our faith, and our religion. Faith is just a much more ‘happy’ word in our culture. But regardless, this verse has recently rang true and unmistakably tangible for me.

I have experienced the truth in this verse on several occasions, my first time being at the age of 15. But I wasn’t really aware of James 1:27 at the time. My recent trip to Africa was my first time at an orphanage since memorizing James 1:27. The verse began coursing through my head the moment a little girl put her hand in mind. Almost immediately after getting out of our truck, we had numerous hands competing for our attention. For the duration of my first visit to the St. Bartholemew’s Orphanage, I had four little girls holding my hands at one time. Two would share each hand. The verse kept running through my mind, on a continuous cycle.

The second evening at the orphanage, I picked up Celina. Celina had malaria, and was a sick and sad little girl. Her stomach was bloated, and she never smiled. She was content just to be held. At one point, her soggy diaper finally gave into its weight, and I found my shirt and skirt moistened by it. I didn’t mind, I just wanted to hold her some more.

One day I spent an entire afternoon holding little babies. I picked up little Nancy after her nap. She clung to my shirt, putting her head on my chest. She held on for the entire afternoon. When I tried to put her down, she cried. My heart broke for Nancy, so rarely held, so desperate for physical touch and affection. I think I left a small piece of my heart in her hands when I left the orphanage that day.

I felt the purity of caring for orphans on those days. It was an intense experience, both spiritually and emotionally. I can’t quite express how my heart felt during my time at the orphanage, and I can’t express how the memories make me feel now. But I do know that the beauty of caring for orphans is indeed pure religion. God’s word was alive, and I could see it as I sat on the floor with four children in my lap. I felt it just like I felt Nancy’s hands clutching my shirt. I heard it though the laughter of children as we played with them. I smelled it as we fed babies formula, and even as we changed diapers. I tasted it though the hospitality as we were fed an amazing meal from the already tired and overworked staff. It is the living word of God being worked out and revealed to His undeserving child- me. But I’m thankful for the experience, and I’m thankful for the opportunity to know and understand what caring for those precious children is- TRUE religion.

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