Thursday, June 21, 2012

we found love in a hopeless place

each morning this week, i awakened to discover yet another mosquito bite on my face, fingers and all over my legs and arms. it's over 100 degrees in NYC and my outreach team and i are staying in the bronx in a decrepit, rundown building w/o ac- six girls sleeping on bunk beds in one room and 3 guys in another room (thank God for our ceiling fan!). without exaggeration, there are ginormous rats the size of my forearm in the basement where the boys play bball and some of the wooden planks on the floor are missing or nearly completely corroded. the neighborhood isn't exactly the safest and i long for the comfort of my memory foam mattress and making my own evening schedule. which begs the question- why in the world do we do this? at first i doubted that just a week of volunteer work or hanging out w/ inner city teens could make much of an impression or impact on their lives or mine. people like us probably enter and leave without a trace or second thought. but as we were debriefing last night and sharing how blessed we were that those rowdy boys actually sat still and sang songs with us and even enthusiastically participated in our admittedly cheesy bible trivia games, i was so humbled and overcome by His amazing grace that transcends all demographics. i was exhausted and hotter than i prefer but had the most perfect peace and my heart was so full...and i couldn't stop crying even up until this morning (i'm a big baby). the same love and grace that saves me from my wretchedness and desperation everyday is available for them, too. even in our flawed attempts and weakest efforts, Jesus pursues them and brings lasting hope and light. if i'm absolutely honest with myself i would have to confess that predominantly, the gospel has mainly been characterized by what Jesus has done for me- rescuing me from darkness, giving me a new identity, feeding my soul, healing my brokenness, showing me His perspective. all of these claims are wonderful and true, but they're awfully self-centered and diminishing. the gospel and the name of Jesus literally have the power to raise the dead, give new life, and allows us to have an intimate relationship w/ our creator, yet i've been using it to boost my confidence and assuage my issues and mistakes. how outrageous is that? it's like using a crocodile birkin to store my sweaty running shoes. the leader of the ministry that we're serving at this week shared with us that a few years ago, one of those unassuming teenage boys said to him, "if God was small enough to comprehend, He wouldn't be big enough to handle all our problems." not only is that mind-blowingly profound and fascinating, it's also eerily comforting and beautiful to discover and rediscover that this life is not about me and how much pleasure i can possibly derive from it. oh the irony and paradox of life in Christ that when we lose our lives for His sake, we find it. i will never come close to figuring Him out or reach the extent of His love. He is bigger and better than my wildest dreams. thank God because i am not that imaginative or ambitious enough. now as i digress on a slightly superficial note, i was thinking about one day in the future when i finally open up my heart to love again. i wouldn't mind if we lived in the bronx or darjeeling, india. as long as i could look forward to coming home to him every night, i'd be a deliriously happy girl. and as trite or cliche as it sounds, this week in the bronx is making me fall in love w/ Jesus more and more. oh gosh. i am such a sappy romantic ;)

i love how john concludes the gospels after telling story after story of Jesus...

Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written. John 21:25