Wherever you are, there are people in need both spiritually and physically. Where does God want to take your plenty and pour it out? ~ Anything, pg. 177
My sister was pouring her heart out in our late night phone conversation, and I could hear the raw emotion in her voice. The logistics of their family’s recent move wouldn’t go on record as the smoothest one in history. My sister, her husband, and their four young children had relocated states and ministries after my youth pastor brother-in-law took a position at a new church. They left behind a familiar place and people that had generously loved on them for nearly fifteen years. Change is hard, but when God says go, you go.
Yet two years later, they felt anything but settled. Their stuff was still in storage while they waited for their house-in-another-city to sell. The economy was struggling more than it had in years. With no end in sight and no money to spare, they rented a tiny, run-down little place in a not-so-great-area of town, what they lovingly referred to as the “70′s Ranch.” They overlooked water problems, treated mold issues, shared tight bedrooms, and slept on mattresses on the floor. What they had determined to make work for a month or two turned into years of living without furniture, toys, clothing, dishes and other conveniences that most would consider necessities.
Month after month, prayer after prayer, there was still no sign of them leaving that “70′s Ranch.” But as time went on, I noticed that the subject of our late night phone conversations had shifted. We no longer spent the majority of our time talking about poor living conditions or how hard it is for six people to share one bathroom. Instead, I started to hear a passion in Teresa’s voice as she talked about the opportunities right outside her back door.
Somewhere along the way, when Teresa’s children would play in their back yard in that no-so-great part of town, random children began showing up. Sometimes just one or two; other times, in masses. They all lived in the large government-subsidized apartment buildings located just behind the “70′s Ranch”, and they started jumping the fence into Teresa’s yard when their ears met with the sounds of joy and hope on the other side.
They were children who desperately needed someone to see them. Children who were literally hungry, hurting, scared, and sometimes forgotten. Children who looked at that “70′s Ranch” and saw a mansion. Children who had never heard the name ”Jesus.”
Right in that back yard.
… we were meant for so much more than the American dream. It resonates because, in order to pursue the welfare of others, especially the marginalized, an element of death is involved; it costs something. Financially, yes, but bigger than that, it costs our comfort. The motto of this movement is “Do something.” ~ Anything, pg. 175
Teresa’s family began sharing popsicles, hugs, and rides to church. They hosted whiffle ball games and birthday parties, invited extras to their dinner table, and kept children until inattentive parents could be found. They worked with their church to provide scholarships for a local church day camp, and even found themselves ministering to one young girl who ended up in the hospital, a victim of a terrible crime.
“Lord, open our eyes to something beyond our circumstances. Father, use us here, for this time.”
And God did just that.
Relationships and trust grew, along with lessons on gratitude, contentment, and focusing on the eternal. And that tiny little run-down house never did grow in size, but it grew exponentially in love. God had a plan that far exceeded what things looked like on the surface.
My sister’s out-of-town house eventually did sell, but not until after God had fulfilled His purpose for their time in that crazy rental. The space in between the “70′s Ranch” and those government apartments is now known as “The Lot,” and it comes alive every Sunday night with games, crafts, snacks and smiles through a ministry headed up by the children’s pastor, as well as my brother-in-law and their youth group. For two hours each week, love trumps comfort, giving feels better than getting, and the name “Jesus” falls like rain on dry land. And just tonight, Teresa shared with me some of the even bigger dreams she’s been dreaming for this place lately. A soup kitchen… or maybe even a community center one day housed in a facility large enough to meet the needs of whole families, staffed by interns from the local Christian college?? Who knows what God has in store, but I have a feeling that Teresa and her family won’t be leaving “The Lot” any time soon.
What is your “lot,” friend? You know, the very thing that you are desperately praying out of your life?
Maybe, just maybe, that’s right where God wants to use you most.
In the thick of it.
In the uncomfortableness of it.
In the sacrifice of it.
In the instability of it.
In the newness or oldness of it.
So many times I’ve prayed an “anything” kind of prayer, but deep down - where all of the truth comes out that I pray that no one else sees - “anything” was really nothing more than my short list of acceptable things that made me look and feel good.
That’s not God’s economy.
That’s not living in freedom.
That’s not “anything.”
We love because He first loved us. We die because He first died. We give because He gave everything. ~ Anything, pg. 177
“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you
so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last…”
~ John 15:16
What is your anything?
At His feet,