26 July 2011

Hope for Louisville: Come on. Lose your life...

With four weeks left, I am struggling to remember the reason I am serving in Louisville. Oh, I know the words. I could verbalize the reason—“I am here to serve the homeless and hurting, to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with them…” But where do I run to find passion again? What is my sustenance in the desert? (Even as I type, I am grinning. I know the answer, and am eager to get to it.)

“Come on. Lose your life, just so you can find it” True Love, Phil Wickham

There is a point at which one becomes accustomed to eccentricities, abnormalities, or just plain craziness. One—living with six women in inner city Louisville as an urban missionary. Two—daily disappointments when people whom we serve do not exhibit the growth we thought we saw. Three—the Gospel of our Savior.

Let me explain. I have heard it said that familiarity brings contempt. I am not so sure, for in my own life, I have seen familiarity bring comfort and subtle apathy. Living in community with six women was an absurd reality at first. I knew it would take intentional choice each morning, afternoon, and evening to love one another in where we put our shoes, when we wash our dishes, what we choose to speak to each other, and how we exhort one another to love and good works. You know how it goes—we now know each other, and it is no longer the priority it once was to be intentional about loving others. My shoes can stay where they are. My housemates should be used to it by now.

Familiarity with daily disappointments. In a person completely given to Christ in his or her every action, this would bring patience and long suffering. In me, it brings cynicism and ever-decreasing enthusiasm.

The Gospel. (It is for this I have been waiting, even as I type. Be here with me, and taste and see what has been and what will be.) I can forget the Gospel while remembering it. The miraculous birth, perfect life, atoning death, conquering resurrection, and glorious ascension of our Christ pretty much encompasses the Gospel. Okay, but listen. Why does this drive us?

Have you heard of the Garden? Have you heard how our ancestors rebelled, how we have rebelled? “And I said: ‘Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!’...And one of the seraphim touched my mouth (with a burning coal) and said: ‘Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.’”(Isaiah 6:5-6)

Have you known this? That we who were once dead in our sins have been made alive to God in Christ? That it was while we were sinners Christ died? There is nothing in ourselves, no cause or room for boasting. What joy this brings! “This I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22-23). This is why we serve. This is why we must not fall into comfort with our sin. This is why we press on. The Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, a Good News that takes rebels such as I and allows us to be instruments of grace.

“To the one who's dreams are falling all apart
And all you're left with is a tired and broken heart
I can tell by your eyes you think your on your own
…Have you heard of the One who can calm the raging seas
Give sight to the blind, pull the lame up to their feet
With a love so strong he'll never let you go?”

Safe, Phil Wickham

Growing comfortable with one another in ways that allow our sin leniency is not part of sanctification. It may be easy, but it is not good. Becoming cynical because I am weary of bearing with people is ‘straight up’ sin. And being bored by the Gospel means I have not taken time to remember what God has done and is doing. I remember these things, and four weeks seems not long enough.

Pray, my friends. Because we all need it. And consider donating once again to Hope for Louisville on my behalf. My time here is coming to a close, but I am planning to finish out my social work degree next spring in Louisville. My heart is with this people and this city, and it seems the Lord may allow me to be here awhile. Myself and three other women who have gone through the Hope program are doing the research and financial planning required to begin a women’s shelter within the next couple of years. (Jeff St is a men and women’s day shelter, but only an addiction recovery facility for men).

You can give your tax-deductible gift by mail at the address below or online by visiting my support page at http://www.razoo.com/story/Bri. Or send your contributions made payable to Jefferson Street Baptist Center attn: HOPE, 733 Jefferson Street, Louisville, KY 40202. Please make sure to designate your check towards my support by writing my account fund ID# (HOPE-S10-BH1) on the memo line of the check. Join us!

12 July 2011

Everything Sad is Coming Untrue

There is just something about the rain when I am weary. It is as if God is showing that the world, too, is weary. The world, too, has been groaning and the rain is a moment of respite. “Rest,” says God.

“Rest.” And behold My glory in the face of a man who becomes excited at church and says, “I bet you’re surprised to see me here, Bri!”

“Rest.” And know that afflictions are for your good and My glory. Even when that heartbreak comes in the form of a homeless man telling you and the team that he is too evil to come to church with you, and that you all are out of his league.

“Rest.” Because your pride is being broken and your sin being dealt with, and rejoice.

“Rest.” Because it is not your love that your neighbors need, it’s Mine.

“Rest.” Because in the words of Jason Gray, “Everything sad is coming untrue.”

I will never grow out of my severe enjoyment of the rain. It shows me love. I would say ‘reminds me,’ but no, it shows me. It is quite the miracle, inescapable. We can forget our own wonderful, individual intricacies, in the ‘commonness’ of ourselves, but we cannot forget the rain which comes as if to say, “I, too, am a promise. All will be made new, though for a little while creation groans. Let me show you grace.”

Grace has come as I and my team serve in Louisville. It has been difficult and rewarding, there is no question. But God is gracious and faithful, for He is not like us.

A longer update is on the way, but for now, this will suffice:

The team is bonding and getting along well, even after the shelter (Jeff St.) flooding twice. The second time, the team was up until 1:30 AM mopping and bleaching the floors, which had had sewage wash up onto them.

The neighbors with whom we come in contact are opening up to us, even feeding the womens’ team one evening last week.

We have had a couple new guys join the addiction recovery program (called Advance Louisville), and we have had seven men graduate from this past 12 week program. And though growth is often so slow, it seems it cannot be measured, we wait. His mercies are new every morning, great is His faithfulness!

04 July 2011