I have lived my whole life in parts of this country where there is always a threat of great wildfires. So, when I hear about forest fires it’s just a normal conversation and experience of life. This time was different though. I had never been shrouded in smoke and had ash rain down like that.
Then as I browsed for answers on social media and the internet, I saw many folks were offering to help with equipment, food, labor, etc. They weren’t just standing back and watching others battle and struggle with a force that was greater than they were. They were using their privilege (advantage) of being outside and able to provide resources to reach out in the midst of the battle and give a hand. To help overcome adversity.
That’s when I was humbled. I was back on my deck laughing about the ash in my hair and taking snapshots of the sun through the thick clouds while others were helping to step into the situation and use what privilege they had to help find a solution to the issue at hand. Why was I not helping? What could I do?
The humbling I was experiencing reminded me of Philippians 2:6-8
“In your relationships with one another have the same mindset as Christ Jesus. Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!”
Here you have Jesus, who was with God from the beginning, not leaving the world to fend for itself but came to us (John 1:14) and helped give us a way to be pulled out of the muck and mire of brokenness and loss.
Let’s look at the fire example: the fire being battled by local heroes and heroines (using their privilege as trained, able-bodied, wildfire experts) are being supported by locals who are also using their privileges and gifts to accomplish a goal of overcoming something bigger then just one person or even one group can handle.
That is what we are called to. The one thing I don’t think we should get caught up in is trying to do everything everywhere. That is overwhelming! We aren’t called to do everything. We are called to do what we can.
Are you a parent? Parent. Are you wealthy? Be an advocate for the poor. Are you an adult? Be a voice for youth. Do you have time? Serve others. Are you an authority? Reach out to the lesser. Are you a man? Advocate for women. Are you part of the majority? Advocate for the minorities. Are you able-bodied? Open a door for someone. Do you have a mouth? Speak encouraging words. God has gifted each one of us with so many privileges, some big and some small, let us use them to serve each other.
Emmett Penke writes from Rainier Hills Young Life.