Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Living Sacrifices

The other day I met an extraordinary young woman named Alicia. She is also the mother of five young children.
As we were having a great conversation about family and mothering, she shared more and more of her life and story with me. WOW, I was amazed by the things I heard. She and her husband are ministers here in Atlanta where they serve in an inner city organization in which they go out and meet the needs of hurting people. In this ministry there are many other churches and local ministries who gather together and go to the people. On Saturdays,these groups of people knock on doors and ask the people how they can serve them. They cut grass, clean, and help people with basic things such as getting their driver's license renewed. These are just a few of the services they provide. She said you would be so surprised at some of the basic life skills people do not know how to do right here in Atlanta. This gives them so many opportunities to pray and to share Christ with the poor and hurting.

She shared with me about a particular group that went to a home downtown and knocked on the door. There was a woman inside crying, "I need Jesus! I need Jesus!" A man came to the door and led them in to the woman who was strung out on drugs. One person said, "How can we help you?" The desperate woman continued to cry, "I just need Jesus!" So the group of people from this ministry prayed with this woman to receive Jesus as her Savior. Hallelujah!

This young woman also shared with me about her sister who lives in Metro Atlanta. She has five of her own children and has taken in five other children who were neglected and abused. She does not even receive pay as a foster parent, but just trusts the Lord to provide. One child's mother is a drug addict with several other children of different men. She was leaving the children alone all day at home to run the streets. My heart was stirred not only to hear the stories about the hurting, but was tremendously touched by these motherly ministers and others who have laid down their lives to reach the suffering. They truly are living sacrifices going out beyond the comforts of their own homes and families and making a difference in the live of others.

Alicia shared testimony after testimony of God's provision for their family as they have stepped out time and again to touch others lives. I was touched by her passion for the lost and her excitement for family and how her children serve along beside her and her husband.

I have contemplated much of this the past couple of days as I have been reading Philip Yancy's book, "Where is God When it Hurts?" I have had the book for two years but have not read it until now. I believe it is God's timing as my heart has been stirred in a different direction over the past several months. This is what Yancy said about Jesus.

"Clear your mind and reflect a moment on Jesus' life. He was the only person in history able to plan His own birth. Yet He humbled himself, trading in a perfect heavenly body for a frail body of blood and sinew and cartilage and nerve cells. The Bible says there is no temptation known to man that Jesus did not experience. He was lonely, tired, hungry, personally assaulted by Satan, besieged by leeching admirers, persecuted by powerful enemies.

"He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to Him, nothing in His appearance that we should desire Him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, ad familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces..." (Isaiah 53: 2-3)

When Jesus first began His ministry, the people hooted, "Can anything good come from Nazareth?" An ancient ethnic joke: Jesus the hick, the country bumpkin from Nazareth. In keeping with that reputation, he seemed to gravitate toward other rejects; those quarantined with leprosy, prostitutes,tax collectors, paralytics, notorious sinners."

Jesus was THE MAN familiar with every pain imaginable. So many times I have prayed and asked the Lord to share His heart with me. Sometimes we pray things and do not really know what we are asking. Are we really willing to share in His sufferings? He says if we want to know His heart then we must be willing to hurt in this life. How can we truly hurt for others if we never have to experience pain ourselves. I believe Jesus was drawn to the hurting and the diseased because He identified with their pains.

I want to find the rejects, for I was one. I want to find the hurting, for I have hurt many times. I want to find those who grieve, for I have been grieved by death and disappointment. I want to find the lost, for I was once lost on death's path.
Take me to them Jesus. Show me the way. may I be a living sacrifice today and everyday.

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