Thursday, July 16, 2009

Lord, You fail us not

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

Thank God for His presence in Christian music. How important it is to fill our hearts and ears with musical lyrics that are honorable to our Lord.

The following words from a song by 1000 Generations seeped into my heart as I was ironing this morning. I have failed Him many times this week in my words and actions, yet He is ever merciful.
Praise and honor and glory to our Lord Jesus Christ! In my sinfulness, YOU are always there -consistent in Your love, calling me to be consistent in my love for my neighbor.

Failure doesn't faze you.
Worry doesn't win.
Lost doesn't leave
I'm free to start again.
Our sin doesn't shock YOU.
Our shame doesn't shame YOU at all.

There is nothing above YOU.
There is nothing beyond YOU.
There is nothing that YOU can't do.
Whatever may come, we'll rise above

YOU fail us not. YOU fail us not.

No matter the war.
Our hope is secure.
YOU fail us not. YOU fail us not.

Our Lord never fails us. Even when the circumstances around us seem to point towards failure, HE is there. We fail Him at times by not turning to Him or trusting in His Divine Mercy, but He is always there.

As His children, we are called to reflect His mercy on those around us - no matter what they've done. "I'm free to start again. Our sin doesn't shock YOU. Our shame doesn't shame YOU at all."

His grace guides me in this very mission each time I serve our brothers and sisters on the streets of Grand Rapids. Interacting with many of the same people week after week and building relationships with some is one of God's greatest blessings in my life. Set in motion through prayer, groups of us go to serve lunch to the hungry, but our time there is about so much more than lunch.

Weekly visits with some have turned into mid-week phone calls or visits. Unrecognized numbers on my phone often bring the joyful greeting of one of the brothers from the park "just calling to say hello and see how we're doing." God is good.

There are countless stories on the streets of failure - failure in the world's eyes, that is. That "failure" brings many to their knees - some literally and some subconsciously.

As the song says and our Lord proclaims, "Failure doesn't faze me." Our failures are stepping stones on the road to redemption. In our failures we see ourselves as sinners in need of a Higher Power - Jesus.

"No matter the war.
Our hope is secure.
YOU fail us not. YOU fail us not.

YOU fail us not!"

If our ears and the eyes of our hearts are open, Jesus' grace will flow freely into our hearts. Humility is a great gift. When we make a mistake and realize it, this is the time to praise God instead of condemning ourselves. In that moment He allowed us to see our sin and turn to Him, who alone can cleanse us.

Each Saturday morning before heading down to Veteran's Park, I participate in the Holy Mass or spend time with the Lord in Eucharistic Adoration in order to bring His presence within me to our neighbors. There is no way I could go down there on my own merit. He is in charge of the day, and I just pray that I hear Him and see Him when He calls upon me and the others who serve Him there.

Our failure doesn't faze YOU...

As tabernacles of His Spirit, the failures of others should not faze us either. We are called to look with love on our neighbors, just as we ask them to look with love on us - in our homes, communities and beyond. Only then does it become easy to meet and build relationships with those society may deem failures.

If Jesus Christ is pure love, then we should pray for His grace to reflect and act with pure love.

Planting the seeds of love will bear great fruit.

We now have people who we have served helping us serve! One gentleman who lives in a low-income apartment complex in the area where we serve lunch sometimes now comes to the park to see us and help serve. What a beautiful blessing this is for us and for him to be able to serve others (he is out of work). He is always sharing the joy of Christ in his smile and conversation and now can pass this on to his fellow brothers and sisters.

Another woman, 'Sue', who has befriended us comes all the way from south Grand Rapids each Saturday. She has an apartment, but no family or community to encourage her. She has limited income for food. Her life has been full of trials, "with no way out" she says. We continue to encourage her to call on the Lord and not focus on her current trials. She continues to come back and share.

God has called Sue and I together. His reason is only known to Him, but He surely has a plan for us both. Week after week, I have felt so inadequate in this situation. This woman has cancer and countless other struggles. I have sat for hours with Sue in the ER, prayed with her, listened to her. Our family has done other things with her and for her, but I feel so helpless because I can't really do anything for her. She has to want to change and want to accept Christ. Her struggles are more spiritual than worldly.

Praying and listening in my weakness, I hear God's message...

"Amy, I know you feel inadequate here, but I didn't call you for your strength. YOU can't help her, but I can. Let MY STRENGTH and grace work through you to bring her to me."

Can I share with you that I am VERY uncomfortable with His mission with Sue? (or perhaps hers with me) I like to fix things. I like to see results. All I can do with Sue is listen and continue to point her toward Jesus - the only one who can rebuild her life and show her true love. LISTEN. Whether she accepts Him or not, I will continue to love her and be a friend. This is all I can do with everyone I meet.

O Lord, meek and humble of heart, make my heart like unto Thine.

Each month we hear more stories of housing and jobs found. We hear words of hope and gratitude. God is always in hope and gratitude.

There are numerous other fruits that we will never see until Our Father reveals them in heaven.

Some people have faith that runs deep and sustains them in their life of homelessness, but they still get discouraged. Some are still searching for the true God. There are others who have fallen away from their faith and looking for guidance back. Still others whose image of our Lord has been warped by the world or by false teaching. When the Lord calls, are we willing to risk our comfortable lives for their souls? We may be the only contact they have with someone outside of their circumstances who says, "stay strong. You can do it."

We go downtown to serve and bring the love of Christ, though this is done more through our actions than words. Last week was a little different in that respect.

One gentleman, who I met last December, but haven't really had any lengthy conversations with, really wanted to talk about life, our Lord and share his faith. 'Billy' said he doesn't have anyone else with whom he can discuss the Bible. As soon as he starts, they walk the other way. I explained that because others know where he stands and WHO he stands for, he is still a witness to Christ, whether they walk away or not. Someday a brother may search him out to talk with him about our Lord. Then "Billy" will be the bridge where there was none before.

One of his favorite psalms is Psalm 37. It helps him through the waiting.

Each week, by the grace of our Lord Jesus, there is harmony, compassion and peace in the park. It may be short-lived or remain for the day or beyond within the brothers and sisters we meet. There are so many circumstances that seek to steal this peace from them - drugs, alcohol, worry, shame, fear...

Stay focused on the Lord...

The evil one doesn't like us bringing life into his territory, but we go without fear in the name of the Lord not looking at the deeds of those we meet because they have all been created in the image of God.

St. Peter proclaimed -"Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. For, "Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech. He must turn from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil." Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. "Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened." But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. It is better, if it is God's will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil."
-- 1 Peter 3

Please continue to pray for the many brothers and sisters in our community and throughout the world who are homeless and hungry. May we unite with Christ in our sufferings.

Pray for us who serve that we remain humble, obedient and open to God's will.

Pray for His abundance in donations and servers so we may continue this mission.

Pray and stay in the Word to always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.

Praise to our Lord Jesus Christ who never fails us!