Amidst the glitz and glamor, the signs of brokenness were glaringly obvious.
... billboards advertised road stop opportunities - satisfy any sensual desire for a nominal price
... over-the-counter paternity tests - in case you are not sure which one night stand has fathered a child
... the allure of the security of wealth, fame and possessions
... people shopping their pains away, hoping that a Disney Day would magically cure their family feuds, forever distracted with cell phones and text messages.
We are a broken people.
How am I, a teeny tiny believer in this sea of humanity; smaller than a speck, unremarkable in every way possible - how am I to respond to this heart cry?
I got angry. I saw an advertisement for "Gentleman's Club" promising access to "Ladies" and I wanted to shout - there's nothing "ladylike" or "gentlemanly" about what goes on there, don't you know!? Can you not SEE!?
I wanted to shout at those who keep people like objects, trading and bartering them, using and abusing.
I wanted to weep for those caught in a lie --- just one more fix and life will be alright.
And for the children. Oh the children.
I wanted to look into their eyes, listen to their stories and pray.
Pray for release.
Pray for healing.
Pray for hope and salvation and freedom and a resurrection into new Life.
It was during this time I happened to be reading through Jude. Feeling so helpless, so insignificant, I soaked in these words:
But you, DEAR FRIENDS....
... build yourselves up in the Most Holy Faith
... and pray in the Holy Spirit
... keep yourselves in GOD'S LOVE as you wait - for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you into eternal life.
... be merciful to those who doubt;
... snatch others from the fire and save them,
... mixed with fear - hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.
The encouragement here is to guard and nurture our own faith
... stay in the Word, walk in prayer
... share openly with other believers
... honest confession, sincere praise, endless gratitude
... focusing on that which is noble and true
while at the same time remaining open to invitations to shine for His Glory.
... the gift of money or time or food or clothing or shelter - sharing present resources for a future purpose
... the gift of listening and hearing another's story
... the gift of opening one's home and life, be it for a moment, a meal or for as long as the opportunity lasts
... the gift of our own vulnerability - you never know where God will use our authenticity
It seems overwhelming and impossible, because, without His Spirit and Grace, it is. But as we seek His face, He gives opportunities to spread His love. To experience compassion and action. And what may seem unremarkable to us, may plant a seed of Life in someone else's heart. And it also nurtures the faith we already have.
"To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy -- to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore. Amen." Jude 24-25