International Ministries

Half Empty, Half Full

May 25, 2011 Journal
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Several years ago my family made the decision to decline cable television.  In fact, we don’t even choose to watch local TV.  We do own a TV.  We simply use it to watch movies on DVD.  Not that we live in a vacuum concerning world events.  We read the news online at CNN or the BBC.  And even without the sound bytes, the news is depressing.

The ongoing conflicts in Palestine, Libya, and Iraq.  Mothers on trial for smothering their children.  War heroes who have fallen into depression and a life of crime.  Young girls in Africa still being sold into sexual slavery.  Unprecedented flooding wiping out towns along the Mississippi River.  Tornadoes tossing victims like rag dolls.  Threats of nuclear disaster still haunting us from Japan.  Marriages of 25 years falling apart due to infidelity.  Drugs and alcohol luring another promising career into the abyss.

Some days the glass not only looks half empty, but also completely empty.

Many people around the world, especially in the U.S. and Canada, view Mexico as a glass half empty.  They believe the violence and hatred exhibited by a few people is just cause to label an entire country as dangerous, untrustworthy, and villainous.  The epitaphs and slurs I have heard against Mexicans in CA, AZ, and TX alone are enough to make me shudder.

But prejudice is based on fear.  And granted, there is certainly a lot to be fearful of.  Endless kidnappings, be-headings, and assassinations can strike fear into the bravest heart.  It is no secret that trafficking drugs, arms and human beings are the top three illicit money makers in the world.  When billions of dollars are at stake, fear is a powerful weapon.

I John 4:8 says “There is no room for fear in love.” (The Message Version)  If I choose to see the world through love, instead of fear, does my viewpoint change?  If I choose compassion over suspicion, does my heart shift in a different direction?  If I choose forgiveness instead of retaliation, does it confuse my “enemy”?

Recently I was talking with someone about a strained relationship between her and a mutual friend.  “Why do you care so much, Joyce?”  And I replied, “Because I hope for reconciliation. I like to think that the best in people will lead them to better choices.”  At this point my friend could have been sarcastic and accused me of being naïve, gullible, and ingenuous.  And I have been guilty of all three.  But instead, she gave me a beautiful gift.  She said, “The world needs more optimistic people.  People who encourage us to look at the glass half full instead of half empty.”  Her words surprised me.  For how often are we moved to praise someone for being hopeful?  Too often we join the bandwagon of hopelessness and despair.

Every day is full of choices.  Choices to bring grace or un-grace into each other’s lives.  Personally, I know what un-grace feels like.  Judgment.  Rejection.  Anger.  Ridicule. Betrayal.  Just a few of the words that come to mind.  Grace, on the other hand, evokes words like patience, kindness, second chances, unconditional love, and hope.  I would much rather receive grace, than un-grace.  But what about gifting grace?  That can be harder to practice.

Half Empty.
Hall Full.

But what if there’s a third choice?

Refilling the glass all the way to the top.

Extravagant hope.
Extravagant love.
Extravagant grace.

Wouldn’t that surprise--outright stun--our fractured, broken, despair-ridden world?
Imagine . . . receiving extravagant hope, love, and grace.
Imagine . . . gifting extravagant hope, love, and grace.
A glass filled all the way to the top!

I sit here. 
At my desk in La Paz. 
My heart beating with wild anticipation.

God places a glass with a pitcher of water in front of me. 
And waits . . .