Stifling hot. There is no other way to describe it. This is my 26th summer in one of the hottest places in the United States and I still dread such days. We had been told the daytime high might reach 120 degrees (yes, you read that correctly). Cathy and I were committed to join a group from our church to cross the border into Mexico in the heat of the afternoon so we could attend the graduation of a church planting school conducted by our Dominican pastor/partner, Manolo.
We had a stop to make before we reached the border, where we would climb aboard the small bus with our fellow adventurers. I noticed the high, thin clouds overhead and was pleased when our car thermometer read "only" 105 degrees. It was about 3:00 p.m., the heat of the afternoon. Errand completed, we entered the Interstate and headed west. Every one of the approximately ten miles seemed a degree hotter than the mile before. 107...108...109... As we exited the freeway, the outside temp jumped to 112. As we turned off the car next to the Mexican border, we were only one mile from the Interstate, but the temp had reached 117.
We climbed aboard the bus (thankful for the air conditioning) and proceeded south across the border and about ten more miles on to a town called Morelos. The graduation was being held in the town's community center, which also has air conditioning. People began to pack in for the joyous celebration, during which the 35 or so graduates wore black caps and gowns. I need to explain here that the outside temps were so hot that it was impossible to truly keep this building cool inside. With the AC working overtime, I would guess the temp inside the room was 90 degrees. The graduation lasted about 2 hours!
The torrid heat that day is but an asterisk to the purpose of this post. Something happened during that graduation ceremony that reminded me again of how differently God sees our world.
The ceremony opened with the Mexican National Anthem. I suppose that had something to do with us meeting in a government building. Whatever the purpose, I was moved as I looked around to see Mexican brothers and sisters in Christ sing their equivalent of our Star Spangled Banner. One older man showed obvious emotion as he sang the song of his country, a line of which says (in English), "For in heaven your eternal destiny has been written by the hand of God."
You see, most of the people who attended that gathering are from that valley and have lived their lives there. As the crow flies, Morelos is less than five miles from the U.S. Border, yet the people born there live in a different world than we do. Our abundance and privilege often leaves us blind to their poverty and struggle. However, it was James (Jesus' half-brother), who wrote, "Hasn't God chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith?" (James 2:5 New Living Translation) I'm not sure how many of my American friends would have inconvenienced themselves to sit for two hours in sweltering heat to watch 35 church planters graduate. But the people of Morelos came; they packed the place.
More important, the scene was witnessed in heaven. God's thoughts are above our thoughts. He doesn't look down from the Ultimate Skycam and see national borders. He just sees people. And those 35 graduates are going to help shake their nation.