I've been perplexed lately with what to do with this burden of the world that i feel. I do realize that every time I sense it, simultaneously God gently commands me to give the heavy burden back to Him... for it's not mine to carry. At the same time, I know He's allowing me to feel the heaviness of it even just for a moment for several reasons. One- i begin to understand a tiny fraction of His sacrifice, two- I am learning trust and patience... He does know best after all, and three- i become even more uncomfortable with comfort which drives me even deeper into His mysteries and into a more simplistic way of life so that I can give even more of what He's graciously given me.
This afternoon I spent some time at the local homeless shelter listening to stories and serving Chinese food. It was great. Every person there has a different story. There is so much humility in that place, so much gratitude, and an insurmountable amount of hurt and pain. One of the men I spoke with began to tell me how he ended up there. I asked if he had any family... and He has absolutely NO ONE. Not one single person on this earth alive that he can count on.. be it love, shelter, hope, food, etc. I don't hardly understand how this happens, but it does... all the time. It's a completely different world that most of us can not comprehend (nor do we want to). The crazy part is: it would probably only take one person who believed in this man for him to get on his feet again.
There were several men there I've seen before with physical deformities. One shares his van with another man and they switch back and forth every night between the bed and the seat. That meal was the only one he had all day. There were several other families with babies seemingly hopeless. All we could do is feed them, climb into their stories, offer hope in Jesus... and maybe help with some other needs. Each person there was so beautiful... even in their pain, sorrow, or tragic situation... they are survivors and they are God's children (possibly angels). My how His heart must ache for them. We know that no matter what we've done He still loves us. I can't imagine being in their shoes... and sometimes that's just the shoes they were born with. And man, do they have a lot of miles on them.
After I got home I sat at the kitchen table discussing with my parents what I can possibly do more. The more I read the gospels the more I see Jesus gave, fed and healed even when He was exhausted or empty. Sometimes He stayed somewhere for days so that He had time to heal everyone. Even when Him and the disciples lacked resources they asked for more and the Lord provided. Jesus didn't ask always ask for salvation in return of a healing (like a trade)... He just healed, spoke freedom and truth... and let God save. He also didn't make sure everyone deserved the loaves and fish that day... He just fed.
One of the only complaints the homeless had about the place was that the management had lost compassion. They feel like a number instead of a person because of the many rules that have been made. I can understand why people would want to build up many rules for protection... but now most who enter still feel like outcasts and a poor excuse for a human. It's so terribly sad to me that any human would be treated this way. As we walked out tonight all of them thanked us and said they really enjoyed it (as they got about their chores). We didn't give out fortune cookies with their meal, but I do feel like we were able to restore a little bit of their hope for their own future as we hugged them and walked away.
So... as soon as I get back in December I'd like to get a few local churches together and maybe open up a hostel or something. It's worth a shot and these people deserve it... simply because they are people (plus i LOVE hanging out with them!). If anyone is interested let me know and we'll start discussing the vision!
This has all got me thinking about treasure. No, not the pirate kind (although some kid was having a pretty fantastic pirate party at the park the other day... man, that's a lot of p's). I started thinking about control. How the poor can be controlled by money just as much as the rich or middle class. (Just so you know our "middle class" is considered rich to the world, so I wish America would start comparing it to the rest of the globe to give us some perspective). If you are one of those people who wishes one day to win the lottery and thinks all your problems will be solved... well then, I'd say money holds a great importance in your life whether you have it or not. And if we take a job we don't believe in for the money... or talk about money all the time and how much we don't have it, or need it... or worry about it... then, guess what? It controls us.
I have a strong feeling God wants us to get to the place where we can use it, give it sacrificially, save it, invest it... but not worry about it, hold on to it, control our giving and what they do with it, talk about it, or even desperately need it. Instead we can praise Him for what He IS going to provide!!! And that doesn't mean a bigger house, better car, more clothes... etc. He provides us with what we need and every bit is such a blessing! We are to be a blessing to others and not worry that our supplies will run dry.
Yes, there are many needs around the world and even in our country. We've got many many needs right here in Jonesboro. We have people who are literally living in their cars and on the streets. You don't see it most of the time because of where they go... but it's happening. But what a blessing it surely is to be a part of their lives... even if it's a little uncomfortable at first. Most of them just need someone who believes in them. I understand people have been cheated, taken advantage of, etc etc.... but not one story is the same. Even so... we are called to serve, love and give to the "least of these". So let's start here then.
Most of the time it takes a little more than just an inspirational message or motivating speech to get us going. My intentions are never to make someone feel guilty. The real reason we are able to move forward and keep on is because of God's ability to equip us for the journey. Sure, someone can light a fire of passion under you... but we can only go so far on that until we run empty, get discouraged, get hurt, or give up. This is why it is necessary we lean on the Father, rely on the Holy Spirit, read the living word of God, and follow in the footsteps of Jesus.
A few years ago had a very vivid dream that I was pregnant with Jesus and it was the second coming. Pretty crazy I know! When i realized who i was pregnant with in the dream I was overwhelmed and humbled because God was using me as such an important vessel of life. When I woke up I started listening to an old sermon of my pastor from nashville and was a little startled when he started talking about Mary and her humble realization of God using a simple servant like her to bring the King into the world. Please read her poetic response to God in Luke 1: 46-55.
It was pretty evident even then that the Lord was wanting me to go deeper and identify with Mary some how. Many more things came up the next few days about the subject of Mary... whether it was a song, verse or vision. As I was speaking with the base leader, He felt that perhaps I was supposed to identify with Mary's availability... and that God had unbelievable plans for me if I stayed willing and available to his calling. This will involve much sacrifice, but when we identify with His sacrifice... ours doesn't quite compare does it? Here we go....
B90: (Luke 11:14- 20:47) All of Luke is great but it seemed like Chapter 12 was specifically reaching out and gripping my soul today. Even before all this other stuff happened tonight! Wow, God is so awesome.
Jesus gets right down to business in Chapter 12 when He basically says commands us not to fear anything but Him who has the authority to "cast into hell". This seems a little abrasive and quite scary, but in the same breath says... "Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows." I think it's super crucial here for us not to discount or diminish the authority of God here. We must realize the power He holds. We tend to automatically think, "well, we are safe... it's the others that need to worry." When rather we should look at that statement in complete humility and gratefulness which will help us view all humans with compassion desiring to share the value we know that He places in us and them.
Even with the story of the Rich fool Jesus makes it very clear how He feels about possessions. "For one's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions." Even when manna was coming from heaven God told them to only take what they needed for the day. I think there's something to this you know? Maybe He's simply telling us to be open handed with everything we have, or maybe there's more. He'd rather us be rich toward Him than lay up treasures on earth for ourselves...
Then the next whole passage He's commanding us to not be anxious confirming how much we are valued to Him. "And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added." vs 29-31...
"Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give to the needy.....for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."