There is nothing-no circumstance, no trouble, no-testing that can ever touch me until, first of all it has gone past God and past Christ right through to me. If it has come that far, it has come with a GREAT PURPOSE, which I may not understand at the moment. As I refuse to become panicky, as I lift my eyes up to Him and accept it as coming from the throne of God for some great purpose of blessing to my own heart, no sorrow will ever disturb me, no trial will ever disarm me, no circumstance will ever cause me to fret-for I shall rest in the joy of what my Lord is- that is the rest of VICTORY!!!!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Dirty, broken, mess.....

Its not hard to turn on the t.v. each day or read the paper and figure out that "we are a mess." Our society is falling apart and each day more and more people are being touched by the evils of murder, rape, abuse, addictions, poverty, disease, abandonment and more. Have you ever seen one of those commercials for the ASPCA?? On the commercials they show different pictures of animals that have been abused and abandoned. The pictures are heartbreaking and always make me way too uncomfortable. The animals look mangled, their hair is matted, they have cuts on their bodies, you can see their ribs through their skinny torsos and somehow the first thing our heads tell us to do is turn away.

We dont like to feel uncomfortable, if we turn away then we can pretend its not true. Even when the hurts of this world are displayed right in front of us we are so often too worried about being uncomfortable then stepping in the thick of the mess and trying to help with damage control somehow. Its easy to have an opinion about the mess our world is in but another to have a piece in fixing it. I know I have been guilty so many times of being ok with staying in my comfort zone and leaving the things that make me uncomfortable to someone else.

When we were in Cleveland a few months ago we somehow made a wrong turn and decided to pull over in a church parking lot to figure out where we were going. After we pulled over we glanced up ahead of us and there sitting on the steps of this church was a man starring right at us. His clothes were dirty, his hands and skin appeared rough and weathered, he was surrounded by a couple trash bags of stuff, he was a mess. This man could have been a murderer or criminal for all we know but there in the midst of his brokenness he needed someone to reach out and offer him a hand. He needed a little glimpse of hope and compassion even if it was through something small. So after sitting there a few minutes Scott got out of the van and offered the man a drink from our cooler. We didnt know how he would respond or even if it would mean anything to him but Scott did it anyways and this man responded back with such gratitude and appreciation. It was as if that bottle of gatorade meant more than a drink for his body but hydration for his soul. Obviously in that 5 minute encounter we werent able to understand his story or know the journey he has been down. He knew nothing about us but the space of the unknown was filled because of the love of Christ. It didnt matter where he had been or what he had done, or who we were, or what we had been through in that moment it was all put aside and love and compassion was shown in the midst of the mess.

In the Bible you will read story after story of people that intervened in the lives of the broken, the hungry, the sick and the poor. Jesus didnt stop to ask for a list of qulifciations in order to touch the lives of those who needed Him. He didnt go through a checklist of things that would make them adequate enough to receive His grace and mercy. He instead met them in the midst of the mess and offered love and hope to them first and then used that encounter to shape and mold them. "All of the biblical characters were a complex mix of strengths and weaknesses. David, Abraham, Lot, Saul, Solomon, Rahab, and Sarah were God-loving, courageous, brilliant, fearless, loyal, passionate, commited holy men and women who were also murderers, adulterers, and manic depressives. They were men and awomen who could be gentle, holy, defenders of the fait one minute, and insecure, mentally unstable, unbelieving, shrewd, lying, grudge-holding tyrants the next," Mike Yaconelli. Jesus hung out with prostitues, tax collectors, adulterers, disease stricken people and He never once turned away because He felt out of place or uncomfortable but instead offered His love and grace to those who needed it the most. Colossians 3:12 "Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience."

We all need to feel loved and cared for, we all need to feel as if we belong. The murderers, rapists, drug dealers, abusers that you see on t.v. didnt just fall from the sky, they are still someones son, daughter, sister, brother, mother, father, and friend. It may be an overused cliche' but as followers of Christ we need to step out in love and hate the sin but love the sinner. We need to offer hope and change so that we can help clean up the mess around us. Their are so many people in this world broken and alone that just need for someone to give them a chance and help show them that they have the ability to be good and to do good things in this world because of the transformation of Christ.

"Spirituality is not a formula; it is not a test. It is a relationship. Spirituality is not about competency; it is about intimacy. Spirituality is not about perfection; it is about connection. The way of the spiritual life beigins where we are now in the mess of our lives. Spirituality is not about being fixed; it is about God's being present in the mess of our unfixedness," Mike Yaconelli. A few years ago I came to a breaking point in my life, I was an active part of our church, my husband plays on the praise team, our daughter was going to the preschool at our church, I was a nurse, and felt as if my life was together and I had it all figured out. What God started showing me though is by taking away one thing after another that I had invested my life in that even when the things around me made me feel as if I had it all together I was a mess underneath it all. I had to come to a point where I had to get real before Him and admit that I needed His grace and love and that I was broken and empty and needed His grace and forgivness. There were criminals and deeply wounded people that had it more together than I did I think even though I wanted to believe otherwise.

You may feel that you have it all together and maybe you do, or you may be a complete mess, either way you are never beyond the need for God's grace. "Our worst days are never so bad that you are beyond the reach of God's grace. And your best days are never so good that you are beyond the need of God's grace," Jerry Bridges. Maybe an alcoholic in a coffee shop needs to hear the love of Jesus, maybe a criminal in Prison needs to hear the love of Jesus, maybe a drug addict single mom needs to hear the love of Jesus, the battlefield is endless and so is His grace. Be that glimpse of hope in the life of someone this week that needs it so desperately. Offer yourself as the hands and feet of Jesus and get down in the trenches of the battle and mess of this world and reach out a hand to the undesirable, the dirty, broken, hurt soul of someone who needs it the most. Step out of your comfort zone and extend the gift of grace to someone for you once were given the same gift.

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