It’s all Jesus’ fault. Yep that’s where I find myself today. In the middle of an exhausting, stressful, beautifully glorious mess. Sometimes I look up and realize in the middle of a mess there is such majesty.
Ok let me back up.
So i kept reading this book, you may have heard of it it’s called the Bible. I noticed Jesus kept talking about us helping the poor, in fact he mentioned it like 9 bazillion times (or so). And that darn Frances Chan and David Platt didn’t help me ignore it either.
Now I’m not saying I read all these verses differently than anyone else…but I felt a call to DO SOMETHING! I was so tired of sitting in bible studies that talked about loving the poor while we ate home baked goods in our warm church wearing our pearls and expensive shoes. I like pearls and expensive shoes I’m not hating…it just makes me itchy.
But I had no idea what that even looked like. I did not know a single person who didn’t have a car, on food stamps, and certainly no one living on the streets. So what’s a middle class white girl to do?
I figured rather than waiting around for God’s parting of the heavens to reveal his miraculous plan for my life, I decided just find where God is at work and join in.
I knew of two local ministries in our small town doing some amazing things for some amazing people. So I called to see if I could volunteer.
It started small, Just cleaning, organizing and the like. I lead a college girls group and dragged them in with me….turns out they loved it…and they are awesome.
But then something happened. Something I never expected.
As I became a regular volunteer. One of the directors called me when she met someone she thought I could connect with. A young mom of two. No car, no home, no job, no family, and no hope.
“It’s a beautiful thing when folks in poverty are no longer a missions project but become genuine friends.”-Shane Claiborne
And that is exactly what happened. She was never a project but a very dear friend to me. Her burdens became mine. I lost sleep, I cried, and I learned a million and one things through this crash course of cultural divides.
We may have grown up only miles apart but it may as well have been in another solar system. There are not enough words to describe how differently our lives were growing up. And in turn we found our selves in very different shoes yet similar life stages (more on that here).
That experience opened the doors for me to continue to meet new friends much different than the friends I had in the past. Now that I have names and faces instead of just statistics, I find myself in a totally foreign place.
I understand how food stamps work. I have friends who have families that make Jerry Springer’s guest look normal. I wrote a letter to a friend in jail today. And I regularly hang out with the fatherless, and the addicted.
“If you can’t find Jesus among the safe sanctuaries then look for him in the lives of the poor and broken because that is his zip code.” -Jen Hatmaker
It’s amazing how much God can do when we are willing to get uncomfortable. It’s basically a big hot mess of awesomeness.
My encouragement is not “hey look at me” because I am only a year or so into this whole new world. I don’t have any answers and I have no idea what I’m doing. I think most well meaning Christians DO want to help those outside of their comfort zone, but have no idea where to start.
“The first step towards getting somewhere is to decide that you are not going to stay where you are.”
I don’t have a formula or a 5 step process but I do pray we can all reach a little further than the comfort of our pews and get our hands dirty. Jesus truly does make beautiful things from the dust….especially under our fingernails.
If you are ready to jump into the deep end, I will warn you it’s messy and complicated and you may want to run, but if you stick it out you will be amazed at what God can do.
I don’t think we were meant to stay comfortable. There are great organizations in every town and hopefully one through your church doing great work. See if you can join in, and see if God leads you to befriend someone totally out of your comfort zone. More than just seeing a face, but truly getting to know someone, knowing a story, sharing a burden, and sharing life…You will never be the same.