Turn the Whole World Upside Down

Three years ago an eye doctor named Tom Little was killed in a massacre of 10 international aid workers in Nuristan province in the country of Afghanistan. The story made international headlines as  the largest massacre of aid workers at the time of the entire Afghan conflict, causing complete strangers to the country and the people massacred to pause and take an inventory of their lives.

Tom Little had been in Afghanistan for over 33 years. He was from Albany, New York, son of an eye doctor and he loved Afghanistan; loved the Afghan people. To say that Tom Little lived outside of any box is a serious understatement. A film called The Hard Places is being produced on the life of Tom Little. In an interview about the film, Dan Swinton, the producer, said that all the news stories of the massacre focused on the last 5 minutes of his life. He wanted to find out more about the other 33 years.

I’ve watched the trailer for the film The Hard Places five or six times — and every time I cry. The film challenges my comfort, my security, most of all challenges me to live life fully wherever I am called to go.

Now this is a hard call in my current situation. I make no secret of the fact that my government sponsored cubicle is often a hard place to be. I feel underused and unproductive. I often question whether I’m making a difference.

My government sponsored cubicle is not sexy. It is not a place where the type of headlines that mean something to eternity emerge. It is a place that tests my patience, challenges my creativity, and often defeats my spirit.

But it is currently my reality. It is where God has placed me. And the call to live fully is no less applicable to me as it is to those in far harder places, far more difficult situations. I am weak in this context – and God delights to make the weak strong.

In the trailer, Libby Little, Tom Little’s wife who was by his side throughout their years in Afghanistan, is heard reading a poem by Hannah Hurnard:

O blessed are the patient meek
Who quietly suffer wrong;
How glorious are the foolish weak
By God made greatly strong;
So strong they take the conqueror’s crown,
And turn the whole world upside down.

The world is not changed through one momentous event, it is changed through the often boring, simple acts of obedience that I am daily called to. Arguably, Tom Little’s life did not affect the Afghan people through his last 5 minutes of a martyr’s death, it affected the Afghan people in his daily choice to deliver excellent eye care to people in need.

It is in the strength of God as shown through the weakness of men that the world is turned upside down. So it is today that I am called to be obedient to what I know. No more and no less, trusting the outcome to a faithful Creator in doing what is right. 

What about you? Do you long to turn the whole world upside down but can’t even face a Monday morning? 

Blogger’s note: I encourage you to watch this trailer – just be warned that it changes you. For more on the film or to support the project click here. 

Monday is always  better with Muffins! In Stacy’s words, todays muffins are “chalk full of nuts and flavor!” They are Browned Butter Pecan Muffins. Enjoy!

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6 thoughts on “Turn the Whole World Upside Down

  1. Some people know fully the affects their lives have had on others. More of us don’t. But every single life is known to God, and every single life is a conduit for God’s grace. No matter where you are, Dear Marilyn, you are making this world better, breath by breath. You may never know how that happened, but it has, it is and it will.


  2. Thanks for this. We see Libby once in awhile. Tom Little was a great guy, and the other 9 who were killed were also there faithfully doing their jobs, too. As you point out, it isn’t the last few minutes of a person’s life that is what counts. It’s the sum total of all the little faithful,honest, caring acts and words of a lifetime. You are in contact with people in your job who matter to God.
    I remember a time when we had come back from Pakistan feeling as if we hadn’t accomplished anything for the 10 years we had invested there. We compared ourselves to others who seemed to be doing great things for God. We hadn’t been in a govt. cubicle, but on the back side of the desert in a small place the world would never hear of. The Lord gave your Dad through his reading a fresh vision of how God is working all the time all over the world mostly through people you will never know or hear of and in places only He knows about. It’s you in your place and your friend who commented before me, and it’s much more about faithfulness and commitment and being God’s man or woman in the place where you are right now.
    “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Phil 1:6
    Thanks for an excellent post. Love you lots!


  3. That does look gripping. I look forward to the movie.

    My life feels trivial in comparison. I’ve occupied a government cube as well, sometimes in activities that did make news, but my life and work are far from turning the world upside down. At this point I’m happy just to be able to spend evenings with my wife, pay my bills, keep the lawn mowed, and gradually remodel my house, after losing my first marriage and my missionary career.

    Occasionally I reflect on my father’s burning drive; he planted several churches, pastored hundreds of people during his lifetime, counseled thousands more, housed and fed 130-some orphans and helped move them into adoption, published several books (some academic, some Christian family), had an outstanding career as a university professor, raised eight kids (three adopted)… I don’t seem to have inherited his passion.


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