"I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing."
Reminded this past week that when the Lord isn't in my plans they do not succeed.
It's such an interesting process to unlearn the natural human response to make things happen and instead sit back in prayer.
Lord teach me to be your vessel. To learn to sit with hands open and hold your goodness and power not attempt to harness it.
Despite the shadow that follows the rain on days like today it seems inappropriate to turn lights on in the house.
Here is to dark days, rain, and prayer with friends on muggy screened-in porches.
with the night falling we are saying thank you
we are stopping on the bridge to bow from the railings
we are running out of the glass rooms
with our mouths full of food to look at the sky
and say thank you
we are standing by the water looking out
in different directions
back from a series of hospitals back from a mugging
after funerals we are saying thank you
after the news of the dead
whether or not we knew them we are saying thank you
in a culture up to its chin in shame
living in the stench it has chosen we are saying thank you
over telephones we are saying thank you
in doorways and in the backs of cars and in elevators
remembering wars and the police at the back door
and the beatings on stairs we are saying thank you
in the banks that use us we are saying thank you
with the crooks in office with the rich and fashionable
unchanged we go on saying thank you thank you
with the animals dying around us
our lost feelings we are saying thank you
with the forests falling faster than the minutes
of our lives we are saying thank you
with the words going out like cells of a brain
with the cities growing over us like the earth
we are saying thank you faster and faster
with nobody listening we are saying thank you
we are saying thank you and waving
dark though it is"
The past few months have in a nutshell been some of the hardest. I have dreamt big dreams, almost given up, been frustrated beyond belief, been unrelentlessly aware of my sin and depravity, and known the grace of God. Yesterday things finally came together and I was given the opportunity to do what I love with two organizations that I consider family. One is a Housing First Non Profit where I did my senior internship and research project and the other is my church. Beyond being ecstatic about the fact that my "almost" job is my passion, I have come to appreciate the process of this whole gig. If nothing else, this waiting period has shown me that this idea is the Lords and not my own and that dreams from the Lord are not swayed by time, rejection, or discouragement. On the nights when all I wanted to do was go find a normal job, I would go to sleep so spent and emotionally drained only to wake up with the overwhelming notion that I just couldn't let it go.
This week I have seen more than ever before that it is a privileged to love the homeless, not some quality of my own character. I do not see the homeless with my own eyes, but through the Lords- and today more than ever I realize that I am unworthy to serve even the "least of these".
It can be incredibly hard not to pat myself on the back for doing "social-worky" types of things...I mean when people are constantly telling me I'm such a good person and that I have such a good heart I start to give myself all kinds of undue credit.
The second I start to believe all the "do gooder" compliments I am ruined. (Friends-please take me off my high horse when I start to mount up again)
For those of you who have lived life with me these past few months, who have seen me at my best and often worst, who have seen me try to keep things together when I am falling apart, who have challenged me to be real and honest and to fight for what the Lord has instilled in me- Thank you. I appreciate your bearing with me through this more than you know and thank you for not being afraid to challenge me. Things are FINALLY coming into fruition and I couldn't be more excited about what is to come.
It's a weird, weird thing when you realize that for the first time in your life you can go anywhere in the world.
I have been thinking a lot today about church. The church is supposed to be the temple of the Lord-a place that ignites community, vulnerability, honesty- reality. Church should be the most raw places of places. ANd often it is. Many times the rawness isn't pretty at all. People get hurt, angry, pissed, bitter, frustrated AND Lord willing, people also get redeemed, loved well, restored, encouraged, and fed. But we are humans. And the church is made up of humans. And humans fail. A LOT.
"It is not the concern of any one race. The victims of the violence are black and white, rich and poor, young and old, famous and unknown. They are, most important of all, human beings whom other human beings loved and needed. No one - no matter where he lives or what he does - can be certain who will suffer from some senseless act of bloodshed. And yet it goes on and on and on in this country of ours.
Why? What has violence ever accomplished? What has it ever created? No martyr's cause has ever been stilled by an assassin's bullet.
No wrongs have ever been righted by riots and civil disorders. A sniper is only a coward, not a hero; and an uncontrolled, uncontrollable mob is only the voice of madness, not the voice of reason.
Whenever any American's life is taken by another American unnecessarily - whether it is done in the name of the law or in the defiance of the law, by one man or a gang, in cold blood or in passion, in an attack of violence or in response to violence - whenever we tear at the fabric of the life which another man has painfully and clumsily woven for himself and his children, the whole nation is degraded.
"Among free men," said Abraham Lincoln, "there can be no successful appeal from the ballot to the bullet; and those who take such appeal are sure to lose their cause and pay the costs."
Yet we seemingly tolerate a rising level of violence that ignores our common humanity and our claims to civilization alike. We calmly accept newspaper reports of civilian slaughter in far-off lands. We glorify killing on movie and television screens and call it entertainment. We make it easy for men of all shades of sanity to acquire whatever weapons and ammunition they desire.
Too often we honor swagger and bluster and wielders of force; too often we excuse those who are willing to build their own lives on the shattered dreams of others. Some Americans who preach non-violence abroad fail to practice it here at home. Some who accuse others of inciting riots have by their own conduct invited them.
Some look for scapegoats, others look for conspiracies, but this much is clear: violence breeds violence, repression brings retaliation, and only a cleansing of our whole society can remove this sickness from our soul.
For there is another kind of violence, slower but just as deadly destructive as the shot or the bomb in the night. This is the violence of institutions; indifference and inaction and slow decay. This is the violence that afflicts the poor, that poisons relations between men because their skin has different colors. This is the slow destruction of a child by hunger, and schools without books and homes without heat in the winter.
This is the breaking of a man's spirit by denying him the chance to stand as a father and as a man among other men. And this too afflicts us all.
I have not come here to propose a set of specific remedies nor is there a single set. For a broad and adequate outline we know what must be done. When you teach a man to hate and fear his brother, when you teach that he is a lesser man because of his color or his beliefs or the policies he pursues, when you teach that those who differ from you threaten your freedom or your job or your family, then you also learn to confront others not as fellow citizens but as enemies, to be met not with cooperation but with conquest; to be subjugated and mastered.
We learn, at the last, to look at our brothers as aliens, men with whom we share a city, but not a community; men bound to us in common dwelling, but not in common effort. We learn to share only a common fear, only a common desire to retreat from each other, only a common impulse to meet disagreement with force. For all this, there are no final answers.
Yet we know what we must do. It is to achieve true justice among our fellow citizens. The question is not what programs we should seek to enact. The question is whether we can find in our own midst and in our own hearts that leadership of humane purpose that will recognize the terrible truths of our existence.
We must admit the vanity of our false distinctions among men and learn to find our own advancement in the search for the advancement of others. We must admit in ourselves that our own children's future cannot be built on the misfortunes of others. We must recognize that this short life can neither be ennobled or enriched by hatred or revenge.
Our lives on this planet are too short and the work to be done too great to let this spirit flourish any longer in our land. Of course we cannot vanquish it with a program, nor with a resolution.
But we can perhaps remember, if only for a time, that those who live with us are our brothers, that they share with us the same short moment of life; that they seek, as do we, nothing but the chance to live out their lives in purpose and in happiness, winning what satisfaction and fulfillment they can.
Surely, this bond of common faith, this bond of common goal, can begin to teach us something. Surely, we can learn, at least, to look at those around us as fellow men, and surely we can begin to work a little harder to bind up the wounds among us and to become in our own hearts brothers and countrymen once again."
I'm reading Brennen Mannings book "Souvenirs of Solitude". He quotes someone in the book and says that we must learn to trust the Lord in our suffering...not this "PollyAnna optimism"B.S., but seriously and serenely trusting.