STOP! Please. Before you place any more food in your mouth today, would you take a moment to hear my heart. Yesterday three children came to our LANDers after-school program with their hands on their stomachs. “Please, Ms. Leslie, I’m starving,” one moaned. With tears in her eyes she cried, “I didn’t get to eat breakfast or lunch today. They couldn’t feed us at school. Please let me have snack early today.” As I frantically placed food in their empty hands my precious Frank called a high ranking political servant and asked what was happening. He stated the horrific obvious. “It’s happening all over the country. The government’s shut down.” Blame is of absolutely no benefit here. Democrat or Republican? I could care less. It is our children that grab my heart. They are totally dependent on us to get it right. And so far, we haven’t. Several weeks ago Nancy Hill, an elder at our church, preached a powerful word about prayer. She stated an absolute truth. “Prayer is the easiest and most powerful tool we have at our disposal.” She’s absolutely correct! Blame helps no one. Prayer, on the other hand, releases strong Power, great Wisdom, and a Compassion that weeps and raises the dead. PLEASE. Whether a deal is made today or not, I invite you to place no food in your mouth for the next twenty four hours. Let your growling stomach bring all children across the world to mind. Let the pangs of hunger awaken your soul to pray protection for them. Our children our counting on us to get this right! In our emptiness, Lord, fill us with Your Wisdom, Your Power, and Your Compassion. We adore you O Christ, now and forever! Amen.
We crave to keep our comfort zones. Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner. Everyday for sixteen years I have driven past Rodeo Drive blissfully oblivious to a “world of without”. As I cling to my things and yearn for yet more, God interrupts my “world of with”. He does it brilliantly. He chooses to use something that is precious to me. Children. They dance into my world through The LANDers, our church’s after-school program for children who have no adult supervision after school. Three of these priceless treasures are brother and sisters. The brother joyfully jumps out of his seat whenever help is needed. His younger sister eagerly runs into my arms the minute she lays eyes on me with the biggest hug and happiest “Ms. Leslie!” Their older sister looks and sings like an angel. When the day ends all three, aged 8-12, join their two high school sisters and sleep in one room. Five children share one bedroom in a dilapidated two bedroom trailer. They inspire and convict me. Crash my comfort zone, Lord. Crash it! Open my eyes to the poverty I comfortably cruise by. Break my heart. Please break it. May their basic needs loom larger than my unneeded wants. Have mercy on us, Lord, have mercy on us. Help us to not fear uncomfortable. Help us embrace the scratchy, rough circumstances you place in our world as opportunities to see something we’ve not been able to see. We adore You, O Christ, now and forever. Amen.
Recently I ran across a radical thought. “True community exists when the person you dislike most dies or moves away and someone worse takes that place.” Quaker proverb Many of us work hard at getting those problem people out of our lives. Feelings of anger, resentment, and frustration abound in their presence. We want peace, harmony, and tranquility. So what’s the best solution? We pray for, hope for, and deeply desire distance. But God sees it differently. What a surprise! When those problem people plop themselves into our lives as neighbors, coworkers, family members, or unavoidable acquaintances God’s telling you and me, “Get ready to sweat.” Problem people seem to be God’s exercise of choice for developing community. The grueling reps begin. Serve In love. Forgive them. Understand. Trust in Me. Again. Serve In love. Forgive them. Understand. Trust in Me. Again. Serve In love. Forgive them. Understand. Trust in Me. Hard work. Sweaty. Exhausting. But . . . slowly . . . steadily . . .the community is strengthened. And the Body of Christ becomes healthier. Lord God, forgive us when we become weary and wary of loving. Use us. Make us sweat, Lord. Teach us how to love the way You love. We adore You, O Christ, now and forever.
Have you read Psalm 19 lately? It’s a magnificent message about God revealing Himself to His creation. This morning, when my heart was overflowing with gratitude to the Lord for our softball team, I didn’t understand why I kept hearing Psalm 19. So I read it. And immediately I understood. David, the author of the psalm, is about to burst with wisdom and insight. He gets how God makes Himself known to humanity and it practically undoes him. With arms wide open he shouts, “You go God. I love how You use the mind boggling splendor of the stars and sun to expose Your excellence. I totally get how You make Your nature known through Your law. You are awesome . . . amazing!” And then suddenly without any warning a painful awareness silences the praise. An incredulous thought crosses his mind. “Humanity knows You because of Your heavens, because of Your law . . . and because of me?! You want to use me to reveal Yourself to Your creation?!” Weak knees wobble. Holy hands tremble. An outstretched body bends. And a humbled soul confesses. “Help me, Lord. I am a sinner.” And, the praiser pleads to the One he loves. “Please, Lord, help me. May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing to You, my strength and my Redeemer.” My heart felt “strangely warmed”. Three thousand years collapsed into one moment with a realization. God delights in revealing Himself to His creation through ten men and women on a softball field. With their favorite scripture shouting from their backs and words of encouragement pouring from their mouths the Apostles softball team declare the reality of the One they love. It’s what God wants to do with each of us. He yearns to use our words and our actions to make Himself known to His creation. Love. Grace. Mercy. They are ours to give that others may live. Please, Lord, help us. May the words of our mouths and the meditations of our hearts be pleasing to You, our strength and our Redeemer.” We adore You, O Christ, now and forever. Amen.