A few weeks ago I finished a Bible study and I wanted to find something that I could read or study that was different than anything I'd studied before. I did what ANY responsible person would do... I put it out there on Facebook!
"Hey! I just finished a Bible study. What are you doing/studying that challenges you?" I know. Very spiritual.
Immediately, an old friend of mine put this on my page:
She said that Interrupted by Jen Hatmaker had changed her life in terms of how she looked at the people around her. Well, I was up for the challenge so I went to the Christian bookstore and bought it.
OH. MY. HEAVENLY. DAYS! I had no idea that I was about to embark on a journey with the Lord that has revolutionized my view of those in need.
Basically, Jen Hatmaker (the author) and her pastor husband were very comfortable in their church. They were ministering to believers and baptizing converts on a weekly basis. The church was growing and her life was safe. THEN God began to challenge her to feed His sheep. She said that she thought that they WERE feeding His sheep, but that God's view of feeding sheep was obviously very different from hers. He began to challenge them to take His Word more seriously in the area of caring for the widows, poor and outcasts right in their own community.
Wow... I am here to tell you that it hit me square between the eyes. I realized that, while I am seeking to honor the Lord with my life through reaching those with special needs and their families, I could be doing FAR more on a daily basis to reach others as well. By no means had I arrived in the area of serving others and God was about to bring my terribly slanted way of thinking into light!
During my weeks of study the Lord would seemingly put people in front of me and it felt like a test. " Are you going to be faithful to reach out to him? I know you don't feel especially comfortable, but do you trust Me?" He'd ask my heart.
The study pointed out that those of us who are not in dire circumstances tend to look the other way and not even acknowledge the presence of the homeless or hurting. The author reminded the reader that "God cares deeply about the issues of mercy and justice and that He is calling His people to ENGAGE with those in need."
"God! What do you want ME to do? I can't help everyone! It's so overwhelming!! And I am busy! How am I suppose do to this?"
Well, there were a few times that I literally had NOTHING to give. I mean I had not one dollar. So I'd start, " Well, great God! Now what do you expect me to do!? I can't even buy them a Coke!" God didn't care. It wasn't my money that God wanted OR needed. It was me. I was being challenged to not look the other way. It was up to me to be determined to look people in the eye and speak to them as if I knew them. He was giving me the charge to treat ALL mankind like the children that He made and for whom He gave His Son. He wanted my heart to be more like His, and not just love those who attend my church or who I see weekly in Bible study. He wanted me to see that EVERY SINGLE person on the street, in the mall and at the grocery store are HIS children and they ALL need Him.
Our Sunday School class has been going to an unwed mother's home for a couple of years now to feed the moms once a month. Each month is a struggle for me because I feel that there are great walls between me and the girls and I don't know how to break them down in the limited time that we are together. The more I read the book the more the Lord impressed on me that feeding them was fine, but what else could I do?
Again, my put-God-in-a-box response was, "BUT GOD! There are a lot of them and they have GREAT needs! I can't help them all! They won't even look at me! How am I suppose to help them when they won't even speak when I try to say hello!?"
(Good grief, I am a BIG baby!)
His response? "No,YOU can't help them all, but you can help a few. Imagine helping whomever you can and those few coming to know ME because of your willingness to try to meet a few needs."
Well, Ok, but how was I going to do that?
"The best way to connect the gospel with our culture is to capitalize on the shared common ground. What if we REALLY loved our neighbors and offered a safe place..." -Hatmaker
My common ground? The Lord showed me... I am a mom in need of a way to care for my child. While I may not have made some of the same mistakes that they have or be in the situation that they are in.. I am where I am BY THE GRACE OF GOD! He is the one that has provided for me and my child and He can offer the same hope to each of these women.. if I am willing to tell them! After we seek to feed and clothe them we need to get to the true root of their need. They need to know that He loves them and has a plan for their lives. They need to hear that He's faithful when they are not and that He will not leave or forsake them. They need to know that Jesus died just for them!!
All I know is that being complacent where I am is no longer acceptable. God is doing a work in me that is like no other work that He has ever done. For a few years now I have been going through a process of Him removing things that distract me from hearing His voice. I know now that I have been arrogant and prideful. Honestly, it has been painful, but very freeing. I have cried countless tears over the loss of strongholds and areas of comfort that He has stripped from me.
Here's the thing. "If people are offended by God Himself, by His authority, his Word, His Son, His history, there is little we can do about that. They will ultimately have to wrestle with Him. But if they are offended by our representation of God, then we will answer for our arrogance. We can help that, and we should." -Interrupted, Hatmaker
So, here we go. I have no idea what God is going to do, but I do know this. My life has been interrupted. No more will the Lord allow me to be comfortable in the pew where I sit each Sunday. He will not allow my heart to be satisfied with my arrogant way of thinking that all people are like me and that only people who are like me deserve to hear about His forgiveness and grace. I am sure that I will be inconvenienced and uncomfortable at times, but I am POSITIVE that sending Jesus to die for me was both of those for our Heavenly Father. Sharing the gospel is so much more than memorizing the Roman Road. It is reaching the needs of people right where they are and loving them no matter what. I am sure it won't be easy, but I'm ready Lord! Let's do this thing called LIFE!