2 Kings 4 tells about the poor widow who had nothing. The poor woman called out to Elisha as he was going through her town...Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that he revered the Lord. But now his creditor is coming to take my two boys as his slaves." Elisha instructed her to go to her neighbors and to ask for empty pots for oil...not a few.... but many! The poor woman did as she was instructed and she poured oil from her container into the pots.... the oil filled every last pot. The woman was instructed to sell the oil to pay her debts and then keep the rest that was left over for her and her sons to live off of. How beautiful to see the faith of a poor woman...God remembered her faithfulness and met her needs. She knew to fall at God's feet (or someone who was a prophet of God) in her time of need.
In 2 Kings 4:8 the scripture continues to tell us about a different woman. This story is entitled, "The Shunammite's Son Restored To Life". The main character in this scripture is the opposite of the poor woman from the previous scripture. The woman in this scripture is a well to do woman who on the outside appears to have everything that she needs. She has plenty of food and many jars of oil. It would appear as if all her needs were met...Yet she had a deep need that money couldn't take care of...she was barren... and she had lost faith that God remembered the desire of her heart. Her hope was very low...It took Elisha to speak "hope" into her life...to let her dare to "believe" that God may have a different plan for her future than the one that she had played out in her head....the one that did not include a child. The woman finally opened her mind to the possibility of God hearing her cry....thanks to Elisha's insistence. The following year the woman had a baby. The boy continued to grow until one day he grew ill...and appeared to have died...the woman could not accept the news and immediately went straight to the prophet who was her link to God. Elisha stretched out over the dead boy's body....face to face...hand to hand....until the boy finally came back to life.
There are so many miracles that God wants to do in our lives. Whether rich or poor... we all have things to overcome as God tries to pull us towards our future. God has greater things for us than we can imagine! He knows the desires that live within the confines of each of our hearts. Sometimes it is easy to think that we are fine....that we don't need anything. We are comfortable in our lives with enough food and shelter....it is easier to think that those "street people" obviously need the miracles...they need "help". And yes... they do indeed need the help. But too often it doesn't matter if you are poor or wealthy....we have dreams in our heart that are to scary to really dream upon...Sometimes people have been so let down, so discouraged by words of condemnation...that they dare not think too long about the flickers of hopes...and dreams...that live within. The truth is that God wants to give us something great!! Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
Today on North First I was able to witness a few of these answered prayers.... prayers that started as desires deep in the hearts of their owners. Dreams of a life different than the one that each person was living.... dreams of being the person that lived inside....not the one that lived in the circumstances of life. Marey was abused throughout her life and found it easier to do meth...than to feel the self hatred that she felt. It was easier to numb herself than to face the names that her loved ones called her. It was easier to leave her dreams boxed up inside until one day God's voice became louder than the outside voices. God started whispering who she really was in Christ....Just nudges at first...enough to give her the strength to go into rehab. She made it through rehab and has recently reached her 60th day clean!!! She was baptized 2 weeks ago and has rededicated her life to the Lord! Today she came to North 1st to help serve in line instead of take...it was while she was in line serving that someone tried to pull her back away from her dreams and put her in a prison cell made up of her past. We were serving hotdogs and he made a very crude and degrading comment to her that was uncalled for. I called him on it in a joking way to let him know that I knew exactly what he was talking about. He turned sheepishly and continued down the line....leaving Marey deflated. I quickly whispered in her ear that our identity is not defined by our past mistakes... our identity is defined by our God and Creator who loves us, forgives us, and who made us. We are precious to Him! I told her to never let people take away the dreams... the dream of being precious...of being "good enough"... of being loved and never used. God is the author of our dreams and He wants good for our lives.... whether rich or poor.
I heard an awesome saying..."God is greater than the circumstances of our past". Yes indeed!!! Another new friend has lived a hard life. She is in her 20's...her mother is in prison...and she has lost custody of her children...she lived on the river for a time and is getting her life together. The Lord has stirred a desire in her heart...a desire to be more than homeless...a desire to be more than a continued cycle of poverty and crime....a desire to be a "chef". Through a variety of steps...she is enrolled in The Art Institute of Seattle and is working with the counselors there to get financial aid set up as well as housing. God has thrown the doors to her future wide open!!! He heard the cries of her heart and has helped her to work through the steps necessary to achieve her dreams!!! "You are not defined by your past, but by how God sees you!" We serve an amazing God! Our God sees through the surface of your life....He sees under the layers of bad choices, betrayal, and pain....he sees the desires that lay deep in your heart! My new friend came down today and helped serve food...as a matter of fact...she brought a big pan of food to serve. God is so amazing!!
Jesus wants to cover us...cover our old identities and make us new. Today was Carolina's (our friend on North 1st St.) birthday! He joined our circle of prayer when we were finished serving people. It was beautiful. He told us that it was his birthday and that it has been 3 years that he's been off heroine! Carolina was nearly ran over by a train 3 years ago where he had passed out from too much heroine. Carolina went through rehab and was able to kick heroine. He drinks every day and still lives on the streets, but he sings a song of Jesus everywhere he goes. Carolina will tell you with the most genuine of hearts...how amazing Jesus is! Carolina still lives on the streets....and has substituted alcohol for heroine...but Carolina knows Jesus to the depths of his core. I can't answer the "why" of "Why is he still on the streets...or why does he still drink?" I don't need to know the answers...I just need to know the Jesus that lives in Carolina's heart and I need to let Him into the places in my heart where my dreams live...."
When we first got down to North First today and were setting up...I heard some of the men talking in line about being at the bottom of the bucket and how about how you can only go up from here. Being the "ear jacker" that I am....I piped up and said, "That is right! When I was at the bottom of the bucket...at the end of my rope...I thought...well, it can only get better from here....it sure can't get worse." One of the men chuckled and said..."ya. but what happens when you start to get used to it there." The Lord does not want us to be content at the bottom of the bucket. He does not want us to be wallowing around in the mud of life....God wants us to dare to dream...he does not want us to be like the "well to do" woman in 2 Kings....He does not want us to say.."We are just fine... we don't need anything." God wants us to share every aspect of our heart with Him. He wants us to dare to share the desires of our heart...the dreams that may lay dormant. He wants us to invite Him in and to bare our deepest dreams to Him.
Life does not always end up like a fairy tale with everything...happily ever after. People get sick, some die, people divorce, jobs are lost, children go astray...But God promises us in Phillipeans 4:13 that "In all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." I would much rather dare to dream....dare to share my heart with the God of the Universe than to sit in my pit of yuck because I am too afraid to be disappointed. I don't want to "get used to" being at the bottom of the bucket. No...I want to turn my eyes up and to keep them fixed on my God... My Lord and Savior...who loves me....the real me that He created...never to be defined by the mistakes of my past. Thank You Jesus! I pray that my life continually points to You and that Your Glory radiates!!! In Jesus Holy Name... Amen :0)