Boots on the Ground

Originally posted November 14, 2012

“If you see something that needs to be changed, change it.  If you see someone that needs to be helped, help them.   If you see something that needs to be done, do it. Be Jesus’ hands, His heart, His feet, and His mouth.” – Mary Jo Copeland

Have you ever had a phrase go through your head suddenly and inexplicably, but it matches perfectly the general flow of your thoughts?  This happened to me recently.  All of a sudden, I started using the phrase “boots on the ground,” which is odd because I have no military background and really do not speak in these terms on a regular basis.  But it fits.  It fits because I have had a stirring lately, a stirring I know has come from God.  He has placed in my heart a strong desire to get beyond words and theories when I am talking about the world around me, and all the pain and sorrow I see.  He wants me to get personally involved.  Thus “boots on the ground.”  The first time I used this on my husband, he tilted his head a little, wondering about my terminology.  I don’t blame him.  I said, “you know, roll up my sleeves, be the hands and feet of Christ.”  Oh.  OK.  Now we’re talking. So it began maybe a month ago.  There was so much discussion taking place around me, so many “in theory” conversations, so many words to describe why there is a problem, but this group or that isn’t dealing with it in the right way.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love words.  I love reading, I love writing, and ask people who know me, I love talking. But there comes a time when words fail.  When we are talking about the poor, the oppressed, the abused, words and theories fall short.  There is a time when direct physical contact is necessary.  Boots on the ground.  Hands and feet.  Stop talking, start serving. There is one strong, solid example of this that comes to mind, though I know there are many and I could writer all night about them.  But right now I’m thinking of Mary Jo Copeland who runs Sharing and Caring Hands in Minneapolis.  Since 1985, she has, without a lot of fanfare, steadily served those in need in her area.  The thing is, she goes beyond helping, and truly shows people how to love. This is a woman who will get down on her knees and wash people’s feet.  On her website there is this quote:  “People are starved for love. Every day when I meet the poor I hug them and they don’t want to let me go. I always ask myself, How long has it been since one of these dear ones has been touched?”  Boots on the ground, sleeves rolled up, hands and feet of Christ.  She is right there. The thing is, it’s hard.  It’s hard to be right there.  It’s tiring, it’s endless.  The problems are so big.  I recently went to a conference on human trafficking.  Wow.  It was eye opening.  It was overwhelming.  One of the speakers urged us not to walk away thinking “The problem is too big.  I can’t do anything to really make a difference.”  But, unfortunately, that’s exactly how I felt.  So big, what can I do?  Everything feels like drops in the bucket. I love how Sara Groves, a gifted and powerful songwriter and singer, puts it.  In her song “The Long Defeat,” she says “I can’t just fight when I think I’ll win, that’s the end of all belief.  Nothing has provoked it more than possible defeat.  And I pray for an idea, and a way I cannot see.  It’s too heavy to carry, and impossible to leave.”  That’s it.  That’s the tension.  It’s too heavy to carry, but we can’t leave.  Once we start caring, once we become personally involved, put our boots on the ground, we can’t leave.  We don’t want to. O Yes, there are so many problems out there, so much pain, so much that is wrong.  And yes, there is so much to do.  And it’s hard.  But it is possible.  Drops in a bucket do add up.  Each little drop is meaningful.  Honestly, I am a little scared that God is stirring this inside me.  What is ahead for me?  I don’t know.  But the time has come, a corner has been turned, and I cannot turn back. If you want to get your boots on the ground, here are a few places to help you get started: sharingandcaring.org livinghopempls.org breakingfree.net ijm.org These are just a few.  There is an ocean of need.  So many places to be a drop that will make a difference, to put our puts on the ground, roll up our sleeves, be the change we want to see, be Jesus’ hands, his feet, his mouth, his heart. Amen? I need to add some more websites (please feel free to add your own): fmsc.org prisonfellowship.org angeltree.org samaritanspurse.org

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