Above is a photo taken during powerful prayer at my graduation party from JUSTembrace – a photo I will treasure for the rest of my life. It was my first time experiencing Sher’s hostess powers for myself, and they were above and beyond what one could hope for in a going away party. The banana pudding flowed, the hot dogs were plentiful, the people were the finest I know, and the evening couldn’t have been more wonderful. I don’t think I have felt this celebrated since my high school graduation… that one involved a lot of walking taco’s and gifts for my trip to India that was then a few weeks away. My how times flies.
“I didn’t know how to care for other so God send you to show me how.” – My dear, dear friend.
Sher had everyone write a small note for me on cards with photos from the past year, the note above was from my first friend in the neighborhood, and the first guy we ever had over for dinner at the JUSTembrace house. Boxes still piled beside us, we ate chicken and corn and zucchini together. I think he was a little freaked out about the whole thing; how did it happen that these strange girls I met in line at a soup kitchen invited me over for dinner, had me chop the vegetables, and sat me down at their table, silver clinking on the plates as we ate and chatted? What an experience for us all – it was the first of many, many experiences I will never forget, and I will remember in awe in the next months and years. These days in Uptown feel like a glorious weight on my heart, one I cannot remove, and have no desire to do so.
What is so incredulous about my friend’s note, and prayer, is that I had no idea how to care for others, either, when I moved in. What qualified me to enter into this neighborhood and into the lives of the men and women I have met over this year? Was it four years of Bible college? No, it wasn’t. All the theology I studied, learned, wrote about and wrestled with was tested this year. But not in quizzes and doctrinal position papers, and not in heady conversations with my roommates and professors. It was tested in relationship, tested in lifestyle, tested in trying to follow the words that Jesus spoke to his followers thousands of years ago.
I was able to care, I was able to teach another how to care, only because Jesus cared through me. He used his willing child, not based on merit or qualification, not dependent on my wisdom or strength, it was only a simple “yes” to what he asked, that is all he needs to work. I believe that anyone willing to surrender and say yes, will have these same “results” anywhere. God asks us to know him, love him, and trust him, and he’ll do the rest. So really, I didn’t teach my friend how to care, God taught him. God moved right on through me, to reach another, and to show him how to be who they are meant to be, too.
It is an honor to be a vessel, I don’t know if I have ever felt that as powerfully as I do now. God doesn’t require a resume, he doesn’t have a checklist. He just wants us. When we are obedient, beautiful things really do happen. Not only did God work in this community through me, He gave me friendships that I will cherish forever. Blessed.
Now for a shameless plug: God is at work in this community through many others, too. Watch this video and be a part of the JUSTembrace this Place campaign! Join with JUSTembrace in prayer as so many big things are happening. Uptown is full of vessels inside and outside of the JUSTembrace house, and I am excited to continue watching and see how God uses this place to further His kingdom and reveal how He can use us all when we let him.