Saturday, April 18, 2009

Jesus walks with us

First off, we are praising God for his blessing of a job for our friend, Andy. We greeted him outside the library this past Saturday where he shared the good news, along with a big hug. Seeing the smile on his face and hearing it in his voice was one of the highlights of my week. It's been quite a journey for him since last fall. He opened us his life to us,sharing hopes and discouragement. I kept telling him that God was making plans for him and to stay strong.
Why we connected to him, in particular, is a mystery to me, but surely not to God.

Now, Andy is on to a new chapter. Please continue to pray for him - that he trusts and acknowledges Jesus Christ as His Savior Who is in control of all that happens to him.
Through our relationships on the streets - whether they last for five minutes or five months - I have seen how strong faith can be in those who live from one day to the next, not knowing where they will sleep or how they will provide for their basic needs.
"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." Hebrews 11:1

Looking into the eyes of so many that we meet each week, there is this raw faith. Sometimes they admit it, many times they shy away from sharing. It's easier that way - or so it seems.

My faith is strong in many aspects (though I pray each day for stronger faith), but I don't have to wonder about meeting my basic needs of food, shelter, work. I trust in God for His providence, though at times, I'm sure I supersede His hand when I become impatient. When the people of the world who are forgotten by many -through their homelessness, joblessness or addictions- become impatient, they are forced to be more patient. What's the alternative?

When those who are homeless, jobless, without family put their trust in God, they are like the woman crawling through the crowd stretching to touch the hem of Christ's robe so she will be healed of her hemorrhaging. The crowds of people ignore her or tell her to go away, but she will not be deterred. Her faith is stronger at that moment than Christ's own disciples who were with him every day, yet did not fully understand Him.

And Christ Jesus says, "daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace." Mark 5

Her faith made her well. Jesus can not heal us without faith. Never assume that because of the way someone's life looks that they don't have faith.

Many prayed that Andy would get a job, but also that he would have faith in Christ - faith that Christ is always right there walking with him on his road, just as He was with the disciples on the road to Emmaus in the above picture.

Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him.” - Luke 24:13-16

Jesus came up and walked along with them. Doesn't that bring to mind such love and hope? Jesus knew of their doubt. He knew of their sadness and confusion. In His immense love, He sought to open their eyes and comfort them. The same is true for us. We may not recognize Christ, but He is always there waiting for us to invite him along on our walk.

When did the two men finally recognize Jesus? "When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, "Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?"

The disciples, like us, could not recognize Christ because they were focused on His death at Calvary. They were stuck thinking about "the failure" at the cross, instead of the promise of His Resurrection. So Jesus opened up the Old Testament scriptures to them along the way. He didn't leave them and say, "these no-good knuckle heads! I've tried time and time again, but they just don't get it! I'm done with them." Thank God for that! Thank God He doesn't do that with us or we would cease to exist.

We all get stuck in our daily trials at times - looking too intently on the details of the day instead of keeping our focus on Jesus Christ who told us, "In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:33
As children of God, it is our duty and privilege to help and encourage our family members (family means all as God is Father Creator of all) on the road of life. We are also to allow others to encourage us. "See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness." (Hebrews 3:12-13)

I am encouraged by the faith and fortitude of the many friends I meet each week in the park or around Division Street. I am encouraged and humbled by Christ, who is Mercy itself.

Every day, I pray to walk in His Mercy, to look out with His eyes of Mercy, to listen with His ears of Mercy. When I succeed, all the glory is His.

During my youth when I was in the depths of a sinful life, spending some time on the street and very close to being without a place to live, God was covering me with His grace. I certainly didn't acknowledge this. I had turned my back on God, His commands and His Church and didn't believe I was worthy of His love.

He didn't turn His back on me though. There were many times He tried to reveal Himself to me, but I couldn't recognize Him because I was focused on myself and my sins, instead of His Mercy.

At the lowest point in my life, I cried out, "save me, LORD!" In an instant, He was right there, bringing His Peace. It flooded my soul, and the next day I was making plans to leave that life behind. Still, His Peace was foreign to me at that time, so it took awhile before I believed and trusted fully in it. Thankfully, He has immeasurable patience and continues to save me every day.

Though I have left my former life far behind and am a new creation in Christ, I can not forget that it is only by His grace that I was saved, am saved and will be saved. He calls us to abandon ourselves to Him fully and share His peace with those who are hungry, sick, imprisoned or lonely, whether they be in our neighborhood, in the next town or across the ocean. In meeting their needs and communing as a family - we meet our Savior Jesus Christ.

May your eyes be opened to the truth of Jesus Christ on your walk this week.