My favorite place...
So here I am again. Sitting out on the park bench on the edge of the street outside the church.
It's a rather funny ordeal, this current living arrangement. I live in the very center of downtown leavenworth, right in the business district, in a church, with a couch (it's actually Eric's couch) and a bag of clothes that goes with me everywhere. I've got a dresser, and a couple boxes of just random things, but I'm finding I don't really need them or use them. Pretty much everything I ever use stays in my car, and some things I don't use as well. It's kinda nice though. Life is much more simple this way, and I think I like it.
So anyway, back to right now. I'm in what seems to be my favorite spot lately. Sitting out on that park bench late at night under the dim street light. It's sunday, so I don't here the normal ruccous of drunks down the street at the bar. Instead it's replaced by the sound of Ten Sheckel Shirt streaming from my Itunes. There is one guy that keeps walking in circles around the block. I've seen him here before. He lives in the small run down apartment building two store fronts down from the church. I've said hi to him a couple times, and got the normal "hey" response as he walks on. He's probably in his late 20's, scraggly beard and slightly dirty clothes, but really doesn't look all that different from me. As I watch him walk, I wonder his name, his job, his background. I wonder why he keeps walking around the block. It doesn't seem to be fitness related really, so I contemplate whether he's looking for something...drugs or a prostitute as is quite common here, or maybe he's looking for something else. Maybe he's gazing at the dark night sky looking for something more, something deeper. Or maybe he's just bored, and it's too hot in his apartment. I really don't know. I do want to know his name though. Maybe the opportunity will open up. Maybe he'll share this park bench with me, and tell me stories of his life, and me of mine. I think it'll happen someday...maybe someday soon.
Well, it's late here (almost 11:30), and I have to be up early for work tomorrow. However, I do want to share a bit from Ephesians with you. Not the whole book...at least not tonight. Instead we'll take a small segment from Ch. 1.
"Ever since I first heard of your strong faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for CHristians everywhere, I have never stopped thanking God for you. I pray for you constantly, asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding so that you might grow in your knowledge of God. I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the wonderful future he has promised to those he called. I want you to realize what a rich and glorious inheritance he has given to his people.
I pray that you will begin to understand the incredible greatness of his power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God's right hand in the heavenly realms."
Well, this morning I taught on debts from a passage in Mathew 18, and one in Luke 7. When looking at the woman in Luke 7, we derived how she was filthy, inside and out, and how Jesus response to her illustrates several things. One of which is how he took her just as she was. He didn't tell her to go clean up and get her act right first, and then she could come to Him. No, he took her sobbing, broken, and humble. We began talking about how too often, ESPECIALLY as Christians, when things aren't right in our lives, it makes it so hard to get back to that intimacy with Christ. How we so often say "I'm sorry God. I promise I'll make it right!" and then go on about trying to correct our actions and repay God with good acts because of our screw ups. When talking with one of the guys, we decided that when trying that way, we often fail again, and that leaves us even more broken than before.
I heard a sermon on tape by a guy named John Lynch recently (no, not the safety for the broncos...this guy is actually an associate pastor in Phoenix somewhere) titled "Room of Grace." (If you can find it, get it, it's a great sermon) Well, he goes on to talk about our Christian walk, and compared it to traveling down a road, and coming to a fork. There are two marked paths. One reads trusting God, and the other pleasing God. He takes a look at trusting God and says "hmm...that's kinda vague..I mean, what does that even mean?" Then he looks at pleasing God. "Yeah, that's it. That's what I want to do! I want to PLEASE God. Now there's something I can do." So long story, very short, he proceeds down this path, and finds that he is utterly incapable of getting it right. And all the people he meets along the way advise him that his brokeness just needs a mask. So, eventually he comes back to the fork, and looks at trusting God, and goes for it...
You see, the hard part about trusting God is that it takes things completely out of our hands. Not that we don't do anything, but that the actions we do will never make up for our deficiencies, and they can definetly never fix our broken spirits. It's only by trusting in God, letting go completely, and realizing that we have to come just as we are. Open and broken, in order to get fixed. All the trying will only lead us back to the same fork in the road. As we look at the woman in Luke 7, she had it right. She came to Jesus as she was, humble and needy, and left forgiven. That's where it comes in. We trust in Jesus to walk with us through it from there. To help us through the hard times, and to pick us up when we fall. Cause on our own, we only stumble further.
As I read this passage in Ephesians, I think "When did we start selling God short?" To think that our efforts could ever do near as much as "the incredible greatness of his power for us who believe him." Is it not "the same mighty power that raised Christ from dead..." That LITERALLY raised Christ from the dead! The same mighty power that brought sight to the blind, healing to the sick, and mercy to sinners. Yes, it is the same mighty power, and nothing we ever do can compare...but to trust in Him and His power for those who believe in Him. Stop looking at your faults, and begin trusting in "the WONDERFUL FUTURE He has promised for those He called."
I believe it, do you?
Lord, I trust You. To take this broken mess, I call "my" life, and give it to you to make whole. I trust that You do have a wonderful future for me, far better than I could ever plan out or imagine. I trust in Your love and mighty power, the same that raised Christ from the dead, to take the death that spreads like a plague in me, and bring it to life that's consumed and overwhelmed with you. Father, I ask for your special favor on me at work. Not that I would have favor in their eyes, but that I would be a much better example than I have been. I have such a hard time focussing on you while I'm there, and it can't be like that. I need you always. I love you, goodnight.