I’m using Picasa to identify the faces found in my photographs.  I tie people’s names to the faces a few at a time – I started off around a hundred thousand faces, and I’m down to about 21,000 unidentified faces left.  Immediate family is easy.  Extended family is harder, family reunions are difficult, and some faces are just unidentifiable.  People at a ballpark, or a demolition derby.  People picked up in advertising or on a TV.  People in family albums, or in picture frames on top of a piano.

There is no way to identify them, even though they are individuals.  No way to put a name on them.  No way to find out who they are.  The person sitting six rows behind me in the airplane when I took that silly picture.  The person sitting at the small table near the far wall in the restaurant.  The taxi driver or skycap or doorman who happened to get into the shot.  They are unidentifiable, unknown.

Except that they aren’t.  They are known to God, and loved by Him.  And Jesus died for each and every one of them.  I keep finding people in India who need salvation.

Friends and colleagues

School chums

A girl from the school

And everybody at the school

A little kid on his dad’s two-wheeler

The vendor of peacock feathers

High school chums

Everybody at the open air market

The guys who helped me find my flattened coins after the train ran over them

The ice cream vendor

And this cute kid dressed up for a wedding

And my heart breaks for them. I want to share Jesus with them. But there are problems – most of them don’t speak English. I’ll never see any of them face-to-face again. I only communicate with two of them at all, and only one regularly. I find it hard to bring up Jesus in the context of test cases, when the US workday and the India workday overlap for only a half-hour.

My devotional this year is Henry Nouwen‘s Bread for the Journey.  The reading for March 10 is entitled “Our Unique Call”.

So many terrible things happen every day that we start wondering whether the few things we do ourselves make any sense.  When people are starving only a few thousand miles away, when wars are raging close to our borders, when countless people in our cities have no homes to live in, our own activities look very futile.  Such considerations, however, can paralyze and depress us.

Here the word call becomes very important.  We are not called to save the world, solve all problems, and help all people.  But each of us has our own unique call, in our families, in our work, in our world.  We have to keep asking God to help us see clearly what our call is and to give us the strength to live out that call with trust.  Then we will discover that our faithfulness to a small task is the most healing response to the illnesses of our time.

This is not simply “We must cultivate our garden”, from Voltaire’s Candide.  There’s an element of that, to be sure, but this is really trusting in a God who is bigger than we are, bigger than we can imagine, who is often put into a box.  I don’t want God to live in a box of my making.  He wouldn’t, of course.  He is large and in charge.

I don’t want to create my own god who lives in a small box.  Lord, help me.