Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Send Me Out

A Devotional by Margot Cioccio

Psalm 2:8 (NIV1984)  

Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession. 

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A year ago I was asked to do music for Vacation Bible School. Only they were not using a pre packaged, just add volunteers, VBS kit. My friend Mary Lou, who has a great heart for missions, had put together a mission focused week for the kids. So I was not handed a music book and cd to use with the kids. I had to pray and go search for songs that would work with a missions theme. There was no master list of great songs to use - so I had to dig a bit. I found some great rock songs by Audio Adrenaline, Fee and Hillsongs. I had to find a way to make them work for me and a guitar with no band and a bunch of kids.  The songs I chose were a big hit with both the leaders and the kids. They came up with motions to go with them, and they played rythem instruments along with me. Kind of scarry, but big fun if you are in the five to seven year old croud.  I am writing about it today because the process of finding and singing those songs over and over for a week changed me. 

God did not send me to Africa or the Middle East or to Mexico but he did send me out of my comfort zone of my nice safe suburban church into the inner city. There I have found the out casts of our society, the homeless, the broken, the invisible, the addicts. People who have lost hope and who often numb their pain and disapointment with drugs and alchol. 

The other day while I was quietly praying and journaling my husband comes in and tells me one of his wierd dreams. He tells me that in his dream I am the keeper of the creatures near the gates of hell. In the dream I am encouraging him to come and pet them. "See they are nice" I said. He responded "no way, they will sting me".  Needless to say I found the dream perplexing. In the midst of my quiet time while seeking the Lord my husband drops this on me. I asked him are you mad at me for something? He assured me that he was not and laughed it off as one of his crazy dreams.  I know from past experience that God speaks to him in dreams and so I have wrestled with what it might mean and why God allowed him to remember it to share with me. 

Today it started to make sense to me. The people from the streets that I befriend are a messy and at times scarry bunch. Change comes layer upon layer after they grow to trust you. We don't make them listen to a gospel presentation to get a meal. I've heard them say "How many time do you have to get saved to get a coat" They have heard the gospel but they have not often seen it lived before them. 

You have to be able to look beyond scruffy beards and smelly, ragged clothes and surley angry attitudes to discover the hurting lonely person beneath the layers of pain. They live thier lives cloaked in a type of horrible inviablilty - people pass them and turn away or quicken there steps in fear.  I don't know how it is that I have gained a heart for them. Its something that God has done in me. I have changed so much in the past year and I look at people now with eyes of hope. I have been trying to encourage other Christians to come and love these people. Jesus said "what ever you do for the least of these my brothers, you have done it unto me". I am learning to see Him in them. 

This past week one of the guys who has lived in our bushes died of natural causes in a near by alley. I will miss his stories of Sandpoint where he grew up. I will miss the gravely voiced songs he would sing to me. I can't remember a time that he sober, but I had some deep talks with him on various occasion. Did he ever turn to Jesus? I can say for sure. He felt safe on our property and some of us knew his name. I hope our kindess eased some of his pain and suffering. 

I know earlier this summer I struggled with compassion fatigue. My heart was growing calloused because change happens so slowly down here. There is so much need and so little help. The harvest is ripe but the workers are few. We resume our feeding ministry this coming Sunday. We had to take a month off - we were all exausted. I look at who Jesus reached out to and it was the lowly, the outcasts, the unwanted and the broken. I know he would be down here loving these people, but sadly few of his people hear him calling to come help. 

So my point today is that sometimes God speaks and confirms things for us through other people. My husbands dream helped me to see how very close to the gates of hell the Lord has called me to go. The result of my sitting at His feet was to hear Him say will you go into the darkness and reach out one last time to those who are tormented and chained in sin. Part of what He has called me to do is to try and help His people see that He is there at the very gates of hell reaching out to the perishing. Some of them respond others do not. In a room of 200 people we might have five sigifinant conversations. We have some wonderful stories to tell of lives touched and changed by the power of kindness, a hot meal, a listening ear, a caring heart. None of these things require one to be a spiritual giant. If I get hit with quesitons that are over my theological head I pass them on to my pastor. Its not that I am so great, I have just spent time at the feet of Jesus and His heart has rubbed off on me. 

There is an old Keith Green song called Jesus Commands Us To Go. I will print the lyrics for you. The first place Jesus is calling you to go - is to meet Him at his feet. To surrender your life to Him, to get to know Him and his heart.  At some point you will feel Him calling you to be His hands and feet. He will probably call you long before you feel ready - you will be a work in process but He will want you to touch others with his amazing love.  He says to ask him and he will give us the nations as an inheritance. I pray He will begin to give us hearts to care not only for the nations but for the hurting people all around us. He might be calling you to go across the street to share His love with your neighbor.  Its time to take that step of faith.

Jesus commands us to go, but we go the other way.
So He carries the burden alone,
While His children are busy at play, Feeling so called to stay.

Oh, how God grieves and believes that the world can't be saved,
Unless the ones He's appointed obeys,
His command and His stand for the world,
That He loved more than life.
Oh He died, and he cries out tonight.
Jesus commands us to go,
It should be the exception if we stay.
It's no wonder we're moving so slow,
When His church refuses to obey,
Feeling so called to stay.
Oh how God comes, as He starts the great judgment of fire,
So He can gain, His Greatest desire.
Cause He knows that the souls of the lost,
They can only be reached, through us,
We're His hands and His feet.
Jesus commands us to go,
It should be the exception if we stay.
It's no wonder we're moving so slow,
When God's children refuse to obey,
Feeling so called to stay.

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