Sunday, December 9, 2012

Grace and Mercy for All...

John 8:12 When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."
It was a wonderful blessed day on North 1st today! We have been adjusting these past couple weeks to the “wet season”.  What that means on North First St. is figure out where we can set up that is not covered with water.  Small puddles, “mini-lakes” have started pooling along various areas of the lot making it difficult to figure out where to put clothes, cars, tables, food, and people.  People have been patient though and most always so gracious.  I think that they are so used to life being “really hard” that they don’t really seem to mind the “inconveniences” as much as we probably do. 
Today seemed to have a lot of people who were hurting, cold, hungry, and scared.  New faces both young and old were in abundance, lined up and hungry.  We’ve come to learn that for a lot of people, Sunday at 2:00 means warm food, smiles, safety, and a time when they will be treated with dignity and respect.  It is a time of the week when they can relax a little bit and be served, when life isn’t quite as hard, if only for a few hours.  We try to serve them as if we were serving Jesus…

Towards the end of the day, a lady came up to me and told me that she has been off meth for 3 weeks.  She said that it was really hard and she was so scared, but that she has gotten through the physically challenging part.  Now she faces rehab up in Spokane.  She is optimistic and prays that it will work.  It has been 3 years that she has been addicted to meth.  I told her that I felt so bad for her not because of the meth addiction, but because of the pain that she must have been going through that led her to use.  At hearing this, she opened up and told me that she had been sexually and physically abused since she was a little girl.  She married a man who continued the abuse and perpetuated the lie…. The lie being that she deserved what she got and that she was created to be used and tossed aside by those who were supposed to protect her and love her.   Lately, she has been tormented by night mares related to the abuse.  I asked how old she was and she told me “40”.  I was shocked!  She looked much older because of the hard life that she has lived, but she cried tears of a young girl that just wanted to be loved and safe.  We prayed and I told her that I would continue praying for her as she was going through rehab. 

It is so humbling to hear the stories…. To see the faces….. to hug the shoulders of people who are just like the rest of us…. Humans in need of acceptance, love, safety, protection, grace…..

When we serve down on North First Street we often first think of the unsaved… of how if only they had Jesus then their lives would be so much better…. If only they knew the truth!  We think of how Jesus died on the cross for their sins and that His grace and mercy are the gift that He brings to them….

But I sit here with a mirror reflecting back to me the image of myself….that grace and mercy is as much for me as it is for them.  I am as much in need of forgiveness and grace as any drug addict, prostitute, murderer…. My sin is much quieter, much more hidden, but equally as rebellious and wrong…. My sin is apathy… it is rebellion against spending time in the Word of God… not in a “works” manner involving a certain amount of time or certain number of passages per day…. But in a true manner…. Purposefully choosing to not spend time in the Word of God because of some inner rebellious feeling that says, “But I can’t concentrate right now, but I just need some down time that doesn’t involve thinking, I just need some “me” time with facebook, a novel, a Christmas chick-flick, Hallmark Channel.

 I have no problem studying autism intensely with this huge passion to try and figure out how to help the children I work with all day…. But why don’t I choose to study the Word of God with such intensity! Why don’t I dig into it like I would dig into a chocolate pie, or a mine filled with gold?? I don’t because of a rebellious spirit that has to die.  I repent of that Spirit God and ask for forgiveness.  I choose time in Your Word, Time diving in and learning more about You!   Yes, I understand there is a balance, but I know myself well enough to know that I am not addressing this as a slave to “works”, but as a sinner who knows that the root is rebellion and not misguided learning. It is not a brain problem, or a time problem, or a comprehension problem, or a focus problem, it is a heart problem.

The more time that I spend in the Word, the more that I start to understand what the face of Jesus looks like, what the words of Jesus sound like, what the touches of Jesus would feel like…. This in turn effects how I treat my husband, how I speak to my children, how I love my neighbor as well as my enemy.  In my human rebellious spirit I have no choice but to act in the flesh…. But when I throw off the rebellious spirit, I embrace the Holy Spirit.  This is true freedom, this is true joy, this is true life!  Peace, joy, wisdom, healing, rest, and strength are found here.…  I pray that my friend who is going off to rehab… I pray that she finds these things….

Lord I thank You that You give Mercy and Grace in abundance and that it is not just for our friends on North First Street, but for all of our deep rooted sin that keeps us apart from You.  I repent and turn from my sin… please continue to uncover the things that keep me far from You because what I truly desire is to be so very close to You!  In Jesus Holy Name,  Amen!
(Also,  We are so very thankful for ALL of the amazing help that has come along beside us through this adventure!  Your prayers, clothes, food, time, blankets, etc.  are so very appreciated!!!)





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