August 25, 2011
God, Forgive Me
"...and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday." Isaiah 58:10 (NIV)
Have you ever seen the social injustices of the world and felt they were too big for you to make a difference? I have felt that way. So instead of doing something—even something small, I did nothing.
Recently, several friends and I spent almost a week living at the Dream Center in Los Angeles. The Dream Center is a converted hospital run by Pastor Matthew Barnett and his church, Angelus Temple. It is a 700 bed facility that is a homeless shelter, a drug rehab, a healing place for those rescued from sex trafficking, an education facility and a ministry hub for over 120 outreach programs to help people in need.
I went as a woman in ministry.
I went to help meet needs.
But I quickly realized I was there as a woman in need.
A woman who needed God's reality to fall fresh and heavy and close and real and too in my face to deny.
Because sometimes I find myself talking about God so much He becomes an identity marker but not an identity changer in my life.
Having God as an identity marker is nothing but a label, a language, and a lifestyle. I'm a Christian. I talk like one. I act like one.
But having God as an identity changer is something so much more. It's lavish abandon to who God is and who He's made me to be. Holding nothing back.
Only lavish abandon to God can do what I saw at the Dream Center.
It's what changed the ex-gang member with eight bullet hole scars into a Jesus loving servant. So gentle.
It's what changed the ex-prostitute into a counselor for girls being rescued from the streets. So pure.
It's what changed the ex-drug addict into a loving father teaching his son how to be a godly leader. So integrity filled.
What in heavens has been holding me back?
What has been stopping me from absolute lavish abandon to God?
I need to know.
I'm desperate to figure it out.
So, I asked Pastor Matthew—a man who lives this lavish abandon, "Aren't you afraid sometimes? You run a facility where you have to raise half-million dollars a month—a MONTH! Do you walk around with the weight of that on you all the time?"
And his answer cracked my heart wide open. "No. When you experience God the way I've been experiencing God for 17 years, you stop being afraid. I've seen too many miracles."
Oh. Tears. The woman who doesn't cry was flooded with a crack in the dam of her soul.
My. God. That. Is. It.
Pastor Matthew lives our key verse from Isaiah 58:10. He spends himself in behalf of the hungry and oppressed. And honest to goodness I've never seen someone so happy, so positive, so on fire for the things of God. Like our verse, his light rises in the darkness.
He sees the miracles therefore he dares to be part of them.
I can't say the same about myself and I'm challenged by this.
I've stopped positioning my life for miracles. In an effort to never make God look bad, I've sought only that which I can carefully measure and predict and manipulate into being.
God, help me.
God, forgive me.
If I truly want to be a woman who lives by faith, I must live a life that requires a little bit of faith.
The kind that changes everything.
The kind the Dream Center is built upon.
I want to be part of the miracles happening at the Dream Center. And I'd love to invite you to join me. Dare to dream sweet friend...read more about this simple but profound opportunity below.
Dear Lord, I want fresh faith. The kind of faith that positions my heart to experience you. I don't want to be held back. Even if it's in a small way, I want to be available and willing to help those oppressed. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Visit Lysa's blog to read more about her "Dare to Dream" Gift Card campaign. You will have the opportunity to write a letter of encouragement and enclose a gift card that will be used to help women in the rescue and rehab programs through the Dream Center.
For more information click here.
Lysa's book, What Happens When Women Say Yes to God now has a 6 week DVD teaching series that is perfect for women's Bible Study groups. For more information click here.
If we truly want to be women who live by faith, we must live a life that requires a little bit of faith. What does that look like for you today? This week? This month?
Having God as an identity marker is nothing but a label, a language, and a lifestyle. I'm a Christian. I talk like one. I act like one. But having God as an identity changer is something so much more. It's lavish abandon to who God is and who He's made me to be. Holding nothing back.
Isaiah 58:6-8, "Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard." (NIV)
© 2011 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105
Originally published Thursday, 25 August 2011.