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“The Lot” ~ When the very place you pray to leave is right where God wants to use you most…

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.”

Instead…

 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,

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Comments

  1. Thank you so much for sharing the story about your sister Whitney. I’m almost beyond words after reading your post and at the same time, have a dozen thoughts rolling through my head. It is just what I needed at just the right time! Thanks again for your faithfulness in the ministry God has called you to. Praying God’s blessing over your family and your sister’s family as well.

  2. Hmmm . . . I have been looking for new job the last two months. I have an interview tomorrow. Praying for discernment and direction now.

    • Lord, I pray right now for Tina. Give her wisdom and discernment in the job that you would have for her. I pray that you would give her an opportunity that would allow her to share your love with others. In Jesus Name, AMEN!

      {Mandy, GMG Leadership Team}

  3. I “love” the inspiration, I receive in the emails that are sent. It brings out the scripture and gives happenings/instruction to my everyday life. Also reminds me, that I am not left here on this earth for MY goals, success or recognition but to serve others in word or deed that will point in a direction to Glorify God. Thank you, for all that put their time and spiritual gifts into encouraging and disciplining others along our earthly journey for Jesus!

  4. Awesome! Missions in America is soo needed that’s why I love our missions
    http://www.infaith.org

  5. Great testament of serving where God has you! We’ve been in the exact same position and we look back at how rich that time was….even though we wanted to get out! Wouldn’t change it :).
    I am loving this weeks scripture reading! I am leaving on Friday to speak/teach in Nicaragua and these verses have been just what I needed to help prep my talks AND my heart! Thanks for being faithful to your call!

  6. Jennifer says:

    I get this blog in my inbox every morning and when I saw the title today I thought “our church has a Lot ministry too.” When I got to the first picture in the post I realized this was about our Lot ministry and I know your sister Teresa! What a small world. They are great people doing great things for an even greater God! We are so blessed as a church family having them minister to our youth.

  7. I love it when God opens up doors for us to minister right in the midst of our crazy seasons. Beautiful story! Thanks for sharing. It encourages me to keep my eyes open….

  8. thanks for the post. i’m a pastor and speaking this Sunday to give our community a vision for their neighborhood. your article is a beautiful picture of what ‘could be’ for people as they reach out.

  9. Jen Thorn says:

    This is so beautifully written, Whitney. Thank you for the encouragement that God has us where we are for a reason. It isn’t always easy, but it is best.

  10. WOW!! What a great story. Really opens your eyes. Thanks for sharing!! Cindy

  11. What an amazing testimony! It takes a lot of growth to let God use us in the places we so desperately try to get out of. It has me thinking – I pray people out of my life more than circumstances some times. I wonder what God wants me to do in these difficult relationships. Hm.

    Blessings, thanks as always for your hard work on this Bible study ladies.

  12. This was the perfect message at the perfect time. I’m having some difficulties now that aren’t going to go away anytime soon…it’s tough but I think it’s time to change my prayers.

    • Lord, I pray right now for Diana. I pray you would meet her in the midst of her tough spot. Lord, give her wisdom and discernment. We know your Spirit knows the things she needs…. Lord, we thank you that you are with us, even in our difficult times. In Jesus name, Amen
      {Mandy, GMG Leadership team}

  13. I “hate” and appreciate this post so much. I have a three year old son and 6 month old twin girls. My husband has recently told me that he’s not sure he wants to be married anymore and has asked for a separation. For the last 7 weeks, my children and I have been sharing a bedroom at my parents’ home in a less than ideal living situation. Lately I find myself having more tough days than strong days. I’m sure that my heavenly father has plans and a ministry for me while I am here, but I really just want to “solve” the problem my way and in my timing. Meanwhile, I hear him whispering, “Wait.” Your post has been confirmation of that. So thank you for allowing God to speak through you and for writing this post that I may have not wanted to read, but needed to hear!

  14. I am tentatively trying to find my way back to Christ – which has been a long and painful process. I have been reading GMG for the past three months and have the words a great source of comfort and inspiration. Currently, my fiance and I are going through a long immigration process and we have not seen one another for over 7 months; we have been in a LDR for almost 5 years. I was so distressed last night about wanting to just get up and leave where I am and being so angry that the process is so slow and painful and that a huge ocean is keeping us apart. However, I prayed and this morning I browsed over GMG and found this. Thank-you so much. I’m struggling to come to terms with my faith and I think I have a long spiritual journey ahead of me, but I KNOW God will make things right. I am certain. Thank-you again.

  15. This resonates with me and how the Lord has been speaking in my life these last 7 weeks. I’ve adapted the motto “Bloom where you’re planted!”, and things are sure looking different now. We’ve gone from the struggle of trying to make things happen, to finding joy in our circumstance.

  16. I love organic ministry; it’s less program and more human interaction and care. In my own life, I had a season where I was a single mom living in low income housing. I may have even been considered ‘inattentive’ as I worked long hours while trying to make ends meet. That time of my life was so hard but so filled with grace. Though I am now married, and now a stay-at-home-mom, I will never forget my fellow Christians who surrounded me with love in that time. Bless you for being His hands.

  17. Such a powerful message. We moved to a small rural town in Tennessee and my hubby has been praying for us to “get out of here” ever since. We haven’t left because we keep running into “setback” which is another way of God saying “I need you right where you are.” Thank you for this!

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