Pentacost Sunday, Matt preached...first time since we've been Stateside. The church had red balloons, "tongues of fire" tied around the sanctuary, and worshipping together, praying together, learning together, celebrating two baptisms together, having a huge picnic together afterwards, it was all deeply good.
I love, I love spending time with broken people who are willing to share their stories, willing and ready to be broken and His. This church has a specific passion for ministry in prisons and abortion clinics, and the brothers and sisters who gather there know Jesus.
Spending time, watching children, listening, learning with broken people who know Jesus is beautiful for my soul.
One stranger heard we were homesick, and made the girls Haitian chicken and rice. One stranger had to leave her 2-year mission field of Niger in a moments notice due to the virus, months before she was supposed to, robbed of all good-byes and closure, and for all the times she cried over chicken salad, I cried, too. There was a bouncy house and Ben's blueberries all over the blanket and the chaos of balloons and children and all kinds of people from all kinds of stories, and it was messy beautiful.
I didn't use to appreciate messy the way I do now.
But messy people, the Bible says, were His favorite, and messy stories are mine, and hearing what God has done in the broken lives of many renews all the hope and encourages all the strength and humbles all my hurts.
When Matt finished preaching a powerful message on the Holy Spirit, our badly needed Helper (find me a person, lately, who feels no desperate need for The Helper), he started to pray over that sweet body of Christ in Haitian Creole and the Holy Spirit we'd just finished studying just met me in all my heart languages.
Every get a glimpse of just how deeply He loves those around you?
How deeply He loves these men and women and children by your side? How deeply and intimately and powerfully He loves the men and women and children in each of our hearts? How mightily He loves the men and women and children of every tribe and tongue and nation on this planet? How sacrificially He loves? How deeply?
That great love--pursuing, comforting, meeting, overcoming, present, transforming, healing, hurting alongside, allowing, disciplining, discipling, pursuing still--If His great love for Haiti and Gues and Granny and Gertha and my students and Michline is THERE with them, ever-present and powerful, then they aren't lacking for anything where I fall short, are they.
If His great love for my sister and her family, for my grandma all alone, His great love for our lost friends and family and our found, His great love for each and every, each and EVERY...If it is HIS great love that is doing the work, finding the lost, lighting the dark, helping the hopeless, healing the hurting, if His great love is showing up and cannot be diminished, then I am just humbled and honored and along for the ride, with HOPE.
It doesn't depend on me. It cannot be altered by me. It cannot be added by me. It cannot be ruined by me.
I can just share His.
He's given us this small place, on N Maple Street in Mississippi, these small places on the street and in offices and church yards and parking lots and corner markets, where we can just share His love.
As Matt chatted with men and women for hours on Sunday, once incarcerated and now free in many ways, God's love makes them family. They invited him to Friday night Bible study, and suddenly the photo of Matt's beloved Monday night Bible study in Pillatre that is continually prayed over in our bedroom is brought to life...there are men and women every place with heavy pasts whom God's love has given a future.
He's given me this crookedy house where I can just share His steady, unfailing love with kids who need it, my four and daily, at least six more. Suddenly there are non-Ayars around the dinner table almost every night, and I rejoice to be learning of and sharing His love around this table that's hardly got a mark yet. It can be messy, with imperfect conversation and burnt rolls and a tired toddler and a sticky floor, but His love is felt and seen and shared and so NO one is lacking for anything where I fall short, are they.
Don't hide it under a bushel, friends, don't let the world extinguish it, not for fear of His love through you falling short...nor for fear that it might not be sufficient for all the many problems of the day.
He is not too small for Haiti and He is not too late for America and He is not too righteous for messy nor will He be limited by me.
Praise the Lord.