“Then I heard the Lord asking, “Whom should I send as a messenger to this people? Who will go for us?” I said, “Here I am. Send me.”
Isiah 6:8 NLT
This Christmas season has been one of reflection for me. I am experiencing all sorts of emotions that are whirling within my head and heart and robbing me of the peace that this season should provide. I started the month of December with a prayer that I would truly experience God’s great love for me in a new and meaningful way. I believe that God has answered that prayer but along with it brought confusion and questions that are still unresolved.
I work in our Children’s Ministry department on Sunday mornings. We have three age divisions and I wanted to teach the importance of giving to others during the Christmas Season in a way that all the children, regardless of their age would be able to participate and understand the concept. The curriculum we are using emphasizes generosity and to help put generosity into action, I chose to partner with Innercity Church in Oklahoma City with their Christmas program called “Christmas in the Hood”. To help with this project, we filled shoe boxes with all sorts of goodies including candy, school supplies, toothpaste and toothbrushes, socks, gloves, hats and toys. My two sons went with me to the church to deliver 50 shoeboxes.
As I was driving to Innercity church and driving in the neighborhood it was easy to notice that this is an old part of the city that is long neglected. I drove past run down businesses with bars on the windows, abandoned buildings, neglected houses that are not taken care of, and children roaming the streets. It was not a safe area and it made me a little nervous. As i approached the church, it also showed the same wear and tear. It was an original brick structure with lots of buildings added on to it or adjoining it. We parked and went in and met with the people to deliver the shoe boxes. The inside of the building was a stark contrast to the old exterior. The inside was clean, well taken care of and warm and inviting. We unloaded the shoe boxes with the help of 4 men. The four men were of various ages and ethnicity and their faces were a reflection of a life of hard work, poor choices and most importantly the joy of Jesus.
I was only there for less than 10 minutes, but that experience haunted me for the remainder of the week. As I was driving away, I felt very aware of the difference of myself living the gospel contrasted with these church members living the gospel. While neither is better than the other, it opened my eyes to what else I could or should be doing.
My sharing Jesus is based on teaching children about God in a small rural town. I help with the Women’s Ministry, I serve as a youth sponsor in our Youth Department. Our family helps feed the homeless and needy at the City Rescue Mission. Several times during the year, the kids and I load up and drive up and down the streets of downtown Oklahoma City and pass out bottles of water and crackers or granola bars to the homeless people on the streets. It’s one of our favorite things to do (except for one of the kids – they are a little scared by it all). We give to missions and pick tags off the Angel tree. I enjoy each of these things and believe that they have great value and meaning to the people that I am reaching but it still doesn’t feel right. It doesn’t feel like enough,
Innercity Church’s Christianity is being the hands of feet of Jesus every day to the needy. To the people that don’t have enough food, they may not have a loving family or a warm house or a clean bed. It seems wrong for me to go home to my spacious, warm house that has plenty of food and lots of love to share. My emphasis is getting great presents for my kids and family members and buying cute decorations for the house. My Christmas seems so shiny and bright while the needy is so painful and raw. It seems so selfish….
So I am struggling with where I fit into this picture of being Jesus’ hands and feet and knowing what else he wants me to do. My heart says “Yes, Lord. Send Me. Here I am…. Use me”. But I don’t know what that looks like other than what I’ve been doing. So I’ll keep doing those ministry things and wait for more opportunities to share the love of Jesus. I don’t ever want to get comfortable with where I am at and what I am doing. So use me Lord, even if it’s messy or uncomfortable.