Be careful what you pray for.
In the last year God has been almost palpable to me. I’ve felt His presence in a new way in my life. I think it started when my dad got sick. I begged for God to just wrap me in His arms and give me comfort and strength because the ache from losing my dad just left me reeling.
Through out this last year, my family has dealt with some things that have caused me to draw into those same arms time after time. They have become a place of refuge and comfort for me. I’ve come look forward to time in my Bible and prayer each day because I long to be in His presence. It is peace. It is encouragement. It is a reminder of unfailing love.
Or at least it has been until recently.
It is still all of those things, but the more time I spend in my Bible and prayer, the more I realize how far I am from loving like Jesus loved and living like Jesus lived. It is convicting and uncomfortable sometimes. The discrepancy becomes more pronounced the more I study it.
Several months ago Heather Gillion (author of Dancing on My Ashes and speaker) spoke at one of our Inspire meetings about being interrupted. Her message was powerful and I prayed for God to interrupt my plans with His own.
Enter a plethora of crazy God moments that have lead to amazing Christian friendships and connections, ministry opportunities, and a renewed passion for my relationship with Jesus. I was definitely interrupted. And He keeps interrupting me by drawing me out of my comfort zone and into opportunities to put hands and feet to what I believe. It is amazing and terrifying and utterly awesome.
Then, fast forward to now.
I read Jen Hatmaker’s For The Love and fell head over heels for her writing style. She’s hilarious. The book was so much fun to read but also full of good, Godly insight. I loved it enough that I picked up another one of her books called… Interrupted. Jen is not the only one with a sense of humor because here comes God with the same message months later, after I already felt like I had already been pretty darn interrupted.
I read her book on a flight to LA last week. As I took off from a layover in Denver, I looked out my window into the darkness and saw thousands of porch lights and street lights and city lights twinkling. I was reminded that each little light was a home or a business full of people.
And I prayed, “”God, Open My Eyes To Really See Your People. Interrupt Me.”
And because He’s gracious and I am a slow learner, God continued to spell out what being interrupted actually looks like during my flight as I read through the book and in the following days. I spent that week in LA working with my ministry friends, Shari Rigby and Claire Lee (authors of Beautifully Flawed), as we hashed out plans to share stories of lives redeemed by our loving and merciful Savior. I visited The Dream Center and was shaken to my core by the beautiful testimonies of broken lives made new by our gracious God. (This place has my heart! Look it up. www.dreamcenter.org It is one of the boldest, most beautiful examples of Christ’s love in action that I’ve ever seen.)
I came home and I’ve been a little crazy. I’ve been unsettled and stirred up.
Then yesterday, my kids and I went to our regular weekly work day at our local food pantry. My heart was a little raw. I can’t even tell you how much these people have ministered to me over the months we’ve worked there. I’ve had many people speak a blessing over me as I helped them carry out their bags. I’ve been invited to church several times. I’ve even been preached to a time or two.
But yesterday was amazing. I met this woman who was a warrior for Jesus. As we walked out to load her bags into her car, we talked and I learned that she is a recovering addict and drug dealer. Two of her three children are in prison and she is raising her grandbabies. She’s been clean for 18 years. And she is one of the most beautiful examples of the heart of Jesus that I’ve ever seen! She talked about the love of her Jesus like he was standing there beside her holding her hand.
She explained how hard it was fighting through her addictions and then leaving a profitable life as a drug dealer. She talked about how Jesus has been her rock every moment of every day since then. She shared the passion that she has for sharing her story with others because she knows that many other women struggle with overcoming their past and sometimes even their present. She praised God because nothing is ever too broken for Him to make it beautiful.
She cried as she wondered if her boys saw too much before she was saved and were too tempted by that lifestyle. She told me how fervently she prays for her children, her grandchildren, and her community. She told me that we have to help those who get out of prison because way to often, they go right back because they have no hope.
She told me we have to do more. We have to spread His hope.
She and some of the other ladies in her church feed kids in the projects over summer break and school vacations because a lot of people are hungry. She gives a testimony in church every chance she gets because someone may need to hear her story to see a chance for redemption in theirs. She asked me to help her reach others for Jesus and she pours out her desire to serve others because she is so grateful for all that God has done for her.
And my heart turned inside out because I’ve been interrupted.
Once again, He tells me to loosen my grip on my plans and to let Him work out His own. Jesus reminds me that His heart is for those who are on the fringes. He doesn’t see the world or people like we do. He desperately wants to love people and wants them to turn to Him. He aches for those who are lost and hurting.
Those are the very people He met with when He was on this Earth. The woman at the well. The adulterer. The tax collector. The leper. The woman with an issue of blood. The hurting, the lost, the sick, the broken, the poor, the needy, the outcast, the lonely, the unloved, and the struggling.
Those people who were an awfully lot like me before I met Jesus. And maybe a little like you use to be too.
Just like my new friend from the food pantry, He wanted to reach those who need Him most .And now I do too. And it has interrupted everything.
“On Hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”