Tuesday, August 11, 2009

My broken heart - for/because of the broken-hearted

4 stabbings in the Hollywood area on Thursday night. Our friend 'Jake' was back out on the street, on meth, and ignoring us. Some of the other younger guys who often hang out with us were rolling joints when we got to the donut shop and also dodging our attempts to talk to them. Ricky brushed me off when I told him I had come up the past Sunday to take him to church and he didn't show.

That street was filled with many teary eyes that night from our team. Several people who had come out to our exposure night have expressed that you can almost feel the presence of Satan here. That something about this place just seems to have such a satanic grip on it, unlike many other places.

At least for me, it was a very discouraging night. I was no longer rejoicing in a visit from Big Mama and her son (our nephew, as she always says). Or the great conversation i had with a kid named Julian who came to bible study. Instead I was just frustrated over the disappointments, and burdened with a feeling like our presence there was useless; and a feeling of "God, if you want us here, why aren't you doing anything. USE US! Change their hearts! What's the point otherwise??! Are we crazy for being here?"

I read the first 3 chapters of Jeremiah the next day, seeking wisdom and comfort in the weeping profit who loved the people and city and had to pronounce destruction on and resonated greatly with it.

Then yesterday I was listening to a sermon on Hell, and on all that Jesus went through for us because he loved us. And it made me think of what a perfect picture he is of loving people, sacrificing for us, and giving everything he had and was for people who still rejected him; for people who are still rejecting him. He knew exactly how we'd respond to his ultimate sacrifice and love, and yet still chose to live and die the way he did.

I don't know why God allows us to pursue people and love them and go share his love with them, only to be rejected. I don't know why he doesn't just change their hearts and cause them to respond. I don't know why he relentlessly pursued us, knowing that few would actually love him back and give their life back to him in return. But I do know he has a perfect plan. I know he operates in ways I don't understand. And I do understand, that, as J.Vernon McGee says: "This is God's Universe and he does things His way. You may have a better way, but you don't have a universe!"

And as tempting as it can be to turn my back on the whole thing and go where there seems to be more of a harvest, I know that I feel called here and simply can't leave these people drowning in the darkness.

I'll just sum up with some help from one of my favorite singers, Ginny Owens:

He could have prospered in the suburbs
Instead of working for the poor
Down at the inner-city mission
Where there's so much disappointment and very few rewards.

For every victory there's a failure
On these harsh and empty streets
But if you ask what keeps him going
He'll say, "I know where I'd be if Christ had given up on me"

Beneath the symbol of a lost cause
Is where I take my stand.
Beneath the emblem of a Roman cross
of a Sacrificial Lamb.
Cause love never claims the victory
Till it finally gives it's all.
And that's why the grave is empty
Beneath the symbol of a lost cause.

I've been a slave to popular opinions,
And I've memorized the Gospel of success,
I've had a taste of the politics of power
And the glamour that commands the world's respect.
But when my eyes are turned to Jesus,
Nailed on a Cross to die for me,
I hear a cock crow in the distance
And it shatters my illusions and drives me to my knees

Where the last and the least meet the Prince of their Peace,
Where the humble are honored and the hungry come to feast-
Beneath the symbol of a lost cause.

* Jake called me the following Saturday to apologize and talk more about his desire for rehab and spiritual growth. There's hope yet. My spirit was greatly lifted during that conversation..and God's still working when we can't see...

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