In John 4:24 Jesus told the woman at the well how to worship. He said, “God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and truth.” The NIV further explains that the place of worship is irrelevant, because true worship must be in keeping with God’s nature, which is spirit….”
This scripture means so much to me because last week I wasn’t able to write a blog. I went out to North 1st as always, but my heart was in a different place. We had been helping one family in particular the past couple weeks and right when I pulled up this particular week, I was inundated with requests for “more”… Long story short- I didn’t really get to help other people that week or interact with the volunteers because I was kind of cornered by a few who were very needy- I think I felt so irritated because I had already given more than I probably should have- including time, emotions, and material things the previous week. If you have children you might relate to it best with this example- Have you ever given your child or children more than you probably should have? You either bought too much for them, or treated them more than normal, or devoted more time than you really had available so that other things suffered- then after it was all done- they returned within a short time to let you know that they still had more requests. It is a mixture of feeling guilty for doing too much already/over extending yourself, irritated that it didn’t seem to be “enough” to satisfy them, and irritated because they didn’t seem thankful enough to match the level of sacrifice that you felt you put out. All and all it was a very irritating, empty, “selfish” feeling that left me at a loss for words. I didn’t blog about that week, but I couldn’t really put my finger on the reason why….Mainly because I was too wrapped up in my own feelings about it-and feeling rather ashamed of my selfish reaction.
Well, fast forward to this past Sunday. We were planning a taco lunch for all of our 1st street friends. I worked through the week on the details with so many wonderful volunteers that were so willing to pitch in and supply what we needed. I kept seeking the Lord’s words to try and understand what was going on in my heart… but I couldn’t put my finger on it. Finally I had a break through. Sunday morning while I was cooking in the kitchen with the praise music going- good spicy smells steaming from the pots- and my own thoughts focusing on God…. I heard Him- “It is an act of worship.” “A what?” I questioned. “An act of worship- not acts of work” So simple-but so heart changing!!! Immediately I repented for my past attitudes that I had let into my heart and just as immediately God brought peace and joy to my heart. It was sudden-a 180 degree shift in my heart that I had been searching for, over the last week and a half. Thank you Lord for knowing those things in my heart that I can’t even put into words.
The remainder of the day truly was an act of worship. I wasn’t worried about how many people showed up, whether or not we would have enough food, or if people’s lives would be changed. All those things that in my humanness- I want to try and measure to determine success or failure- the Lord erased in a blink of an eye. I just focused on doing my part to the best of my ability knowing that it truly was an act of worship- not of works.
I don’t know if it was the new change of heart or the sun shiny day, but the freshness of spring seemed to jump out to me as we loaded up and headed down. It seemed like the flowers were so bright and colorful under the pure blue sky. The heat seemed to jump on the valley unexpectedly this last weekend which really helped all of the flowers. The Valley’s new sprouts and buds were just as encouraging as the new blossoming hope that seemed to ring out this week on North 1st. Even though it was hot and people were sweaty- they still showed up in huge numbers to fellowship, eat, and grab a few pieces of clothing. For an hour and a half people flowed through the food line and to my amazement there was enough for firsts as well as 2nds for the road for those who wanted . It was exciting to hear about people who had found jobs. One teenage boy in particular had a neat turn around this week. This boy is junior high age and is special needs. He has not been in school for some time now, but last week Keith gave him some nice clothes and shoes with the one request that he get back into school. This week as soon as he saw Keith he ran up to him and told him that he had gone back to school this past week and so had his sister. I pray that he keeps at it. Without education- the cycle continues :0( This young man shared a change in his life that is life giving- that is like fresh sprouts peeking through the fertile soil! Hope is in the air!
A man that looked in his early thirties walked up to me this week and shared that he had been to church earlier that morning. He then proceeded to tell me what the sermon had been about. It was so neat to hear him tell about how Jesus picked up the “remnants of bread” after feeding the 5,000. He was so excited to have gotten the revelation that we are the “remnants” and that Jesus never leaves the remnants behind! How beautiful was that! He realized that we are all the remnants and that Jesus will never leave us behind. This man had tears in his eyes as he shared God’s word. What a life giving message to someone who is homeless, but not hopeless!!
Two of our homeless people brought us things that they wanted to donate back to the group. One man helps with another organization that works with the needy. They didn’t want some things and so he asked if he could share them with our group. Last week he brought make up for the women and this week he brought little sewing kits that would be wonderful for our North 1st street friends. The thing that struck me as really neat was that he wanted to give back. 8-10 volunteers stuck around this week to help tear down tables and gather up the garbage. They didn’t just take and leave, but instead wanted to be part of the team. People are blossoming before our eyes just like the flowers and fruit trees throughout the valley.
Not only is the Lord working on the weeds in my own heart, but He is also working on the condition of the soil, the seeds planted, the sprouts emerging, and the blossoms budding. God does not forget the remnants, nor does He leave any ground unturned. Once the seeds are planted, God is able to be the Master Gardner and do what needs to be done in order to harvest a beautiful harvest.
As I mentioned in the beginning- The Lord showed me that North 1st street is about an act of worship to Him. “True worship must be in keeping with God’s nature” which is love. Through the Love that we extend to each person, God is exalted and glorified! Songs of worship fly up to the heavens with each pot that is stirred, person that is hugged, shirt that is folded, and conversation that is had…. Praise you Jesus, Praise You Lord!!! You are Lord and King! Please help my heart to stay focused on You and not distracted by the business of life or my own humanness.