The Jesus Ripple Effect

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I want beauty in my life.

I want it to be in the form of refreshment for myself and others.

I want to see Jesus more in my life.

I want the Jesus ripple effect.

I see it play out in chapter seven of the second book of Corinthians. This beauty and refreshment released in the lives who make up the body of Christ. It happened when they repented and turned toward God and others in love.

Chapter six tells us God’s word to us about himself:

“I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”

We are then immediately commanded by Paul, in light of the above promises, to cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.

We aren’t to cleanse ourselves in a legalistic way in order to gain a way to God or to keep from losing God.  It is a cleansing because of God’s promises.  A cleansing out of gratefulness, joy and awe about being one of God’s people and He being our God.

In chapter seven, we see how repentance played out among the Corinthians.  It was beautiful. A response to the gospel with godly sorrow and repentance.

Here is what my Gospel Transformation Bible says about it:

“To see gospel transformation in action, consider these movements of grace: Paul receives comfort in his affliction from Christ.  This gives him the confidence and grace to write a difficult letter to the Corinthians in which he speaks the truth in love.  Their response is godly sorrow that leads to repentance.  Their repentance leads to a renewed zeal for godliness.  As they are refreshed by the Spirit, they become a source of refreshment-bringing joy to their leaders through their obedience to the gospel.  In turn, Titus experiences rejuvenation, which causes Paul to rejoice all the more.  The gospel transformation is beautifully personal and interpersonal.”

This is the Jesus ripple effect.

I used to think that to live a radical Christian life I needed to take part in something that looked like a big action or lifestyle.  Like going on a missions trip or changing where I lived. I’ve changed my mind. Following Jesus and submitting to the commands of the bible is the radical life in this day and age. Submitting to the Lord and repenting of sin IS the radical life because it is the rare person in the world who does it.  It’s not wrong to go on a missions trip or to move in order to live among people God is calling you to. It is wrong to think you HAVE to do that in order to get God’s approval or in order to be a radical Christian.  Simply following Christ and His commands is radical.

What would the Jesus ripple effect be if those who call themselves Christians really followed Christ? If we took seriously repentance? If we really believed not just His word about grace but also His word  about how He longs for His family to live. That we have a need for Him, not just at that moment when we decide to believe, but every moment every day as we trust Him.

What would it look like if we worshiped Him through repentance, a turning from sin toward Him and others?

This would be radical for me.  To move in love TOWARD others who sin against me.  To move in love toward others who I WANT to sin against.

Not just people who are at a distance but even my husband and children in the moments when they feel most offensive to me.

I don’t want to ever underestimate the power of the gospel.  To shake my head at the thought of writing a difficult letter. To shake my head at the thought of moving toward a family member who is acting ugly. To shake my head and turn against myself in anger.  

What will happen in my life as I do the difficult thing that my flesh feels least like doing buy my heart longs for?

I begin to begin again right here in my own home today.  My daughter just asked me for a fourth thing since she woke five minutes ago.  I just stopped the big sigh and rolling of the eyes and I’m moving toward her in love.  There will be many more opportunities today!

Lord, will you cause the ripple effect in my life as I submit to you? Will you show me where I need to submit, repent and move toward others?

I want to see gospel transformation in action.  Are you seeing it in your life?  If so, I’d love to hear about it!

Photo credit: Google images: http://inreland.blogspot.com/2012/02/ripples-from-heavens-glimpse-into-life.html

Linking up this week with these inspiring ladies:

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News that is Praiseworthy

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The leaves are looking more brown than red now days and most are on the ground.  We had our first frost this week with a low of twenty-six .   I do believe I feel the earth tilting farther away from the sun.

But the glorious sunrise and some good news warms my heart this chilly November morning.

The headlines of our national and world news are far from encouraging.  Are you as weary as I am?

A plague of terror and a plague of sickness seem to reign over the minds of the world.  In between those two topics, there are others: school shootings, kidnappings, murders, political wars and more.

Aside from these items, I have my own personal wars to fight.  Battles in my heart with time, thoughts, words, parenting and marriage seem to clamor for my attention.  Battles between flesh and spirit.

The more I experience life, the more I realize there is a real spiritual battle going on.

“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12)

After I read the morning’s headlines, I turned to the Good News.  Praise God that I just happen to be in 2 Corinthians chapters 3 - 5.

This is what I found…

Ebola will be completed eliminated and all terrorism will be abolished!

All of my personal struggles will be wiped out!

“For the things that are seen are transient and the things that are unseen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:18)

And there is more…

“For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen.” (2 Corinthians 4:17-18)

Our faithfulness to looking to eternal things in the midst of our challenges is our witness to this aching world.  The result is that the Good News extends to those around us and God is glorified.

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.” (2 Corinthians 4:7)

We are fragile but there is Good News in our fragility.

“We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.  For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.” (2 Corinthians 4:8-11)

And if it wasn’t good enough news for us to be changed as we look to the eternal and for God to be glorified as we do so,we have more.

Shockingly, we are also being transformed into the image of God’s glory.

“Now if the ministry of death, carved in letters on stone, came with such glory that the Israelites could not gaze at Moses’ face because of its glory, which was being brought to an end, will not the ministry of the Spirit have even more glory?” (2 Corinthians 4:7-8)

“Since we have such a hope, we are very bold, not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face so that the Israelites might not gaze at the outcome of what was being brought to an end.” (2 Corinthians 4:12-13)

“But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed.”

“And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.  For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” (2 Corinthians 4: 16, 18)

In the mundane of life, I long for an exciting encounter with the presence of God.  Who wouldn’t want a Moses experience?  This passage tells us that we have it!

Christians, through Christ, can now behold the glory of the Lord with an unveiled face. There is no barrier between a person found in Christ and a holy God.

This access to God is limitless, free from shame and is the means that He uses to transform us into His image.

Now THAT’S a headline.

May the headlines of our day, turn our hearts to worship and meditate on what is eternal and God’s lovely promises.

May they spur us on to remember the news that is praiseworthy!

Linking up with these refreshing and inspiring sites this week:

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Trusting in the Name of the Lord Our God

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That sweet moment when you’re brought back to gospel sanity.

The truth, once again, falls fresh on your heart and mind and you feel like you’ve heard it anew.  Like it is the most amazing fresh insight from God.

That it is for sure.

You know it must be from God because who longs for the beauty of death unless you have the Holy Spirit who brings just that?

Like the beauty of the yellow dying leaves changing and falling around me, my life could be similar.

As I die to myself a bit more, will I change too? Actually become more like Him…more beautiful?

I have been striving. Counting my own muscles…skills…abilities.  Thinking about my brain’s abilities and lack of.  Instead of God.  Has God called me to homeschool or not? Has he called me to parent? Marriage?  Has he called me to be a pastor’s wife? Has he called me to ministry of writing?

What has He called you to in this season of life?

Do you struggle, like me, with feeling like you can’t quite get some of these roles right?  Maybe you long for them to be perfect and they’re not.

I am not sure what I’m seeking but it might be perfection from myself or approval from others. Perhaps it is my own approval.  I am seeking more strength and an improved mind.  Perhaps that last one is a good thing. But it can’t be the only thing.  I need to first and foremost seek God to provide all that I need for that which He has called me to. Perhaps even come to understand and be OK with the fact that  I can’t.  I don’t have it. But say, “Come through for me, please.”

Instead of wondering and counting abilities.  Perhaps I can just say this, “Lord, will you provide all I need this week for parenting well, loving my husband well, homeschooling well, studying well. writing well, ministering well.”

“I need you. I don’t have what it takes to do all of this and to do it well. But for some reason I feel called to all of these things to some degree.  Help me to know how much and when. Help me to know how.  Give me the brain and abilities to do it.  Give me your joy. Your peace. Your clarity and organized thoughts.  I don’t have it.  But that is good. Because you are sufficient for me.  When I am weak you are strong.  Come through Lord.  I yield.”

I was confronted with this quote by Tim Keller today:

“If you make anything else besides the real God your god, you’ll never find mercy from that god; it will always punish you.  A false god can’t die for you if you fail it…it can only punish you and demand more from you.”

I heard this moments before taking communion. Before being strengthened by his body broken for me and blood shed for me.

As I took in the bread and wine, I was thankful to find mercy from the one true God.

Approval from anyone other than God will never be enough.  Something tells me that if I could come up with enough strength on my own to do all I am called to do, it would never be enough.  It would only punish me and demand more.

“May he grant you your heart’s desire
    and fulfill all your plans!
May we shout for joy over your salvation,
    and in the name of our God set up our banners!
May the Lord fulfill all your petitions!

 Now I know that the Lord saves his anointed;
    he will answer him from his holy heaven
    with the saving might of his right hand.
Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
    but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.”

-Psalm 20:4-7

Linking up with these refreshing and inspiring sites this week:

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The Most Promising Investments

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I’m seeking to invest in what never ends.

Love is patient.

Love is kind.

Love rejoices with the truth.

Love bears all things.

Love believes all things.

Love hopes all things.

Love endures all things.

Love never ends.

The love investment.

Love is one of a couple of things that the bible affirms will endure beyond this world as it is.

The Word.

“The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.” -Isaiah 40:8

Love.

“Love never ends.” -1 Corinthians 13:8

Love and His Word will never cease.

Hope will one day be fulfilled and faith will one day become sight. Love will never end.  It will forever be the Christian’s response to the grace found in Christ.

We are just beginning to receive a beautiful display of color for fall.  But it won’t last.  The red, orange and yellow will soon turn brown and be raked up and burned.

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The fall decorations will be taken down in just a few weeks.

The pumpkins will rot.

My investment in His word and in love will last forever.  My investment in love as a response to God’s grace will last forever.

Mama and Ruthie

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I will not do it perfectly.

I will have my moments.

This is what my heart longs for at the beginning of the week, though.

I’m striving to slow down and intentionally cling to them for abundant life in Christ this week as I fully enjoy the beauty around me.

Blessings to you and your loved ones as you enjoy this change in seasons and this particular season of life you find yourself in.

Wherever you find yourself, I pray that you, dear reader, will find that His Word and His love are your guide because they are indeed the most promising investments.

And it’s all possible because of His investment of Christ for you and in you.

Linking up this week with these inspiring ladies:

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If Patience and Slowing Feels Painful

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This carousel at the St. Louis zoo always makes me dizzy.  Not unlike how I feel in life.  Days rushing by like everything around this ride.

Colors and lights blurring past me like the years that have passed since the carousel’s first use in the 1904 World’s Fair.

Sometimes as the days, months and years pass I can catch a glimpse of what my aching heart longs for.

Love.

Jesus.

My loved ones.

The church.

The last months have felt like this.

I tried to take a picture of my children on the zoo train.  The pictures capture them peaceful with the world rushing by them.

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These are pictures I’ve taken over the past month.  How I’ve longed during this time to slow down life to keep it from rushing away.  And how I longed for that yesterday after my trip to the library.

I thought I could quickly run into the library to grab one book and go on with my day.

As I waited, I looked at the obituaries as usual.  The 4 1/4 by 5 1/2 inch slips of white paper printed in black ink sit on counters throughout town.  You can find them in the library, pharmacy and grocery store.  It is a way our small town finds out about each other’s life spans.  Wondering if I’d see a familiar name, I slowed down for a moment to read.

My heart stopped.  There she was.  The name I had just moved that morning on my planner.  Moved to next week because there wasn’t time.  And now there will never be time.

Would patience have made a difference in this one?

With eyes welling up, I took the books and got in my car.  I thought of the quote I had read earlier that day.

“Waiting on God requires the willingness to bear uncertainty,

to carry within oneself the unanswered question,

lifting the heart to God about it

whenever it intrudes upon one’s thoughts.”

~ Elisabeth Elliot

I’ve been thinking about patience lately.  Why is it painful to wait or act with patience.  Because it can be both.  Patience can be doing or it can be waiting.

It can feel painful to wait on God in the moments when I want to handle things my way.  In the frustrating moments of parenting that require yielding and waiting instead of….acting in anger.  In situations where I want to set things right but, to do so, would be sinful.

I also find it painful to love and serve when I’m in a hurry or feeling busy and weighed down with life.  It requires patience to set aside the circumstances pressing in and to slow down  and be intentional in order to truly love people.

I even found myself thinking just this morning that an old hymn was going too painstakingly slow.  I caught myself feeling too anxious about the tempo to give myself over to worship and loving the Lord with all of my heart?

Why not slow down?

And maybe, maybe I wasn’t patient enough to see that slowing down to visit my old neighbor was worthy of my time.

I had to keep moving on from the library.  There were children to take to a balloon race.  We got there when the teams were supposed to be filling the balloons but we waited for an hour or more.  Another chance for patience.  I looked at my dad’s watch and then movement on the field began.  Men and women tugged and pulled with all of their weight to move balloons or to keep them from moving.  I couldn’t tell.  I thought of me and my desire to slow this life down.  That is what it feels like sometimes.  Using all of me to keep this life from flying away.  Or am I actually using all of my strength to keep things moving? I can’t tell.

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And in the midst of trying to slow this all down, there is the desire for patience.

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Waiting or acting in patience, it makes me feel as if something inside me is tearing away.  Perhaps it truly is a dying to myself.  I’ve always wondered why but this week that above quote gave me a glimpse into why.  Waiting on God requires a willlingness to bear.  Bear uncertainty.  Bear a change in my own way, my own plans.  It requires a willingness to carry a burden.  It requires some mental ascent to God that He is in control, not me.  It takes mind work, heart work and, sometimes, physical work.

I was told, “It’s OK…you loved her when you had the chance. She knew you cared.”  I want to be painfully honest with myself, though.

Every week is busy so how and when do I get to the point of laying it all down and doing what this one life is really all about?

Patience, love, self-control…all fruit of the Spirit.  I could just say that the Spirit wasn’t moving. Or…I didn’t love another when I could’ve or should’ve and confess that and be done with it.  But I also want to process this so that I grow from here if needed.

Should we ever stop growing in Christ?

In order for the fruit to be produced, I must yield to the Spirit.  I must cooperate. And perhaps, by being too busy, I close myself off to some of the live-giving fruit.

I’m processing today whether or not what I’m busy with is truly what God wants me to be busy with.

I don’t have a solution yet to the busyness challenge.  I just know some truths.

That the Lord provides the fruit of the Spirit.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” Galations 5:22-24

That I am a new creation with new desires.  The desire to slow down in order to love others well is a good and godly one.

 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” -2 Corinthians 5:17

He works in me powerfully as I yield to Him.

Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” -Philippians 2:12-13

I trust that the Lord will continue to work in my heart to make my priorities His.  I trust in His grace to cover all that I do that I shouldn’t and all that I don’t do that I should.  I trust that when I see sin or lacking on my part, His perfection is all the more beautiful.  And I trust that He can enable me to do all that He calls me to do to fulfill His good purpose.

I write this as a tribute to the one I didn’t make time to visit in the end.  I’m glad I made time in the past.  I was blessed when I yielded to the nudges of the Spirit to stop by with two busy little ones to let them crawl around the pond and feed the fish while we talked.  I’m glad I took time at one time to know her and she me.  I’m thankful for the meals together and the gifts she gave.  I learned that not everyone who has received much sadness and loss in life ends up bitter.  That one can get through life with patience not only in the busy times but also the slow and painful times.  In fact, some end up with a special twinkle in their eyes and a smile for everyone else.  After losing all who she cared most about, she was still able to love others well.

Once, upon returning from a scary trip to the hospital, we discussed death.  I asked her THE question.  The question I had learned to ask in Evangelism Explosion training.   I asked her how she would’ve responded  if she would’ve died and God asked her, “Why should I let you into my heaven?”  I was blessed to hear her say, “I guess it wasn’t because of anything I did.”  Then she gave me a smile with a twinkle in her eye.

And I guess as I remember my friend,  I should remember that the same holds true for me and for all of us in Christ.  Jesus IS perfect.  Perfectly patient and loving.  In the end, it won’t be about how perfect I was, but about how perfect He was and that I trusted in that.

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Linking up with these ladies this week:

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If You’re Thirsty and Longing For More…

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“…but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:14

And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment.” Revelation 21:6

To slow down…just for this one moment of my day and take in a free drink from the spring of the water of life.  What would that do for my soul?

To drink the truth from the fountain that never ceases to exist and provide for the thirst of our souls. Would that bring blessing to the Lord?

“How precious is your steadfast love, O God!
    The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
They feast on the abundance of your house,
    and you give them drink from the river of your delights.
For with you is the fountain of life;
    in your light do we see light.” -Psalm 36:7-9

To remind myself right now and every day that it’s not about me and my kingdom but about the Kingdom of Christ.  What would that do to the other souls in my life?

We rented a paddle boat at the Boat House in Forest Park.  We left the cares of the busy city of St. Louis and the wait for a table to eat and we paddled out toward the fountains at the bottom of Art Hill.  We had not done it since we were dating.  Now we had two kids with us.

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So many cares, fears and changes we’ve crossed over and through in between these years.

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Like this boat journey, we’d catch a glimpse of the fountain.  It’s beauty and knowing that the spray would cool us beckoned to us to keep going.

We finally arrived and we got as close as we could.  Though we feared getting too wet, we got as close as we could to feel the satisfying cool mist on our hot arms and legs.

Though I sometimes fear what it may bring in my life, the fountain does indeed refresh.

These words came to me in the pew this Sunday and I am repeating them over and over:

“Sin is an act that says “I don’t want your kingdom to reign, I want my kingdom to reign.”

The ridiculousness of this for a Christian is enough to make me long with all my heart to turn to Christ…the fountain of living water which refreshes my every part.

It makes me long for Him, His Word and His kingdom because…

“The law of the Lord is perfect,
    reviving the soul;
the testimony of the Lord is sure,
    making wise the simple;
 the precepts of the Lord are right,
    rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is pure,
    enlightening the eyes;
 the fear of the Lord is clean,
    enduring forever;
the rules of the Lord are true,
    and righteous altogether.
 More to be desired are they than gold,
    even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey
    and drippings of the honeycomb.
 Moreover, by them is your servant warned;
    in keeping them there is great reward.” -Palm 19:7-11

Christ’s kingdom is sweeter than honey…and much sweeter than my kingdom of the flesh.

How sweet are your words to my taste,
    sweeter than honey to my mouth!” – Psalm 119:103

Are you thirsty, longing to move toward the Living Water of Life? 

Do you hunger for the sweetness of yielding to the Lord and His Word?

I’m re-connecting today with my soul’s true longing through His word.  Join me?

“How lovely is your dwelling place,
    O Lord of hosts!
 My soul longs, yes, faints
    for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and flesh sing for joy
    to the living God.

 Even the sparrow finds a home,
    and the swallow a nest for herself,
    where she may lay her young,
at your altars, O Lord of hosts,
    my King and my God.
 Blessed are those who dwell in your house,
    ever singing your praise! Selah

 Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
    in whose heart are the highways to Zion.[b]
 As they go through the Valley of Baca
    they make it a place of springs;
    the early rain also covers it with pools.
 They go from strength to strength;
    each one appears before God in Zion.

 O Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer;
    give ear, O God of Jacob! Selah
 Behold our shield, O God;
    look on the face of your anointed!

 For a day in your courts is better
    than a thousand elsewhere.
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
    than dwell in the tents of wickedness.
 For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
    the Lord bestows favor and honor.
No good thing does he withhold
    from those who walk uprightly.
 O Lord of hosts,
    blessed is the one who trusts in you!” – Psalm 84:1-12

 Linking up this week with these ladies:

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Love Without Hesitation

 

Each day of Vacation Bible School this summer the children tossed spare change and dollar bills into the wicker basket.  Little hearts and hands moved to do something in response to what they were learning and now know.  That 200 women are forced into slavery a day in India.

And that isn’t even the full story.

When you can’t tell young people the atrocities carried out on other human beings, you know you’re dealing with evil.

We called it slavery, modern day slavery.  But it it so much more than that.  Two hundred women are forced into the commercial sex trade every day in India alone.

This fact also moved Vicki Moore to do something as well about ten years ago.  She began to search for more information and learned that every year, over four million women and children around the globe are trafficked into prostitution and slave labor. She was then led to start a ministry, Rahab’s Rope.  The ministry provides food, shelter, and protection; a place of education and training; a place where the whole person is ministered to spiritually, physically, mentally, emotionally, socially, and financially. It is a place of hope; a place of transformed lives.

I’d like to share about Rahab’s Rope on a regular basis here on my blog in order to bring attention to the horrors of Human Trafficking and to a wonderful ministry that purposes to help and heal those caught in it.  Below is a beautiful post on loving without hesitation posted by “MJ”, a staff member.  I pray that it will encourage you to learn more about Rahab’s Rope.  I also pray that you will be encouraged to rejoice in the love of our father in heaven and his ongoing work of restoration and renewal in our world…even within the sex trade in India.

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In India, there are beggars and street kids everywhere. It’s painful. Small children with visible bugs crawling through their hair approach you, using sign language for “food”. A ten year old girl approaches with an infant in her arms. Women without legs drag themselves across your path. Every shape and size, they follow you to your car and knock on your windows. They approach you on the train. They poke you on your arm… over and over and over. And when you don’t respond, they begin performing: back flips, cartwheels… anything to up the ante. It’s truly heartbreaking. Especially in light of the fact that panhandling is often just another form of trafficking. You can purchase a child for less than the cost of a cow. And there are doctors who will perform amputations on perfectly healthy children because it increases the amount of revenue they can generate.

We were walking one day when she approached us after lunch. Instead of handing her money, our team lead slipped her arm around her shoulders. Momentarily startled, Rose* nestled in beneath her. She talked and entertained and became our tour guide. It should have been more obvious- and I suspect that to our team lead, it was. It was just another performance. No different than the back-flips or the tight rope act. All with the expectation of receiving when she was finished. Our team lead chose to love her anyway… determined, again, to break through the performance.

With the children, it’s easier. Get down eye level. Make a joke. Ask them their name and they are pulled out of “work mode” pretty easily. With Rose*, it was much more sophisticated; more ingrained. What was playing out before us, without us even knowing, was a battle of determination between these two women- each determined to break the other first. It was a heart breaking exchange. With Rose*, she took on what I can only assume is her daily role play: I’ll be whatever you need me to be. You could watch each transformation as it took place: I’ll be your entertainment. I’ll be your friend. I’ll be your project. And our team lead: determined to break through each act until there were no more left, continued to demonstrate love and patience and was nurturing. She clung to the hope of making a connection.

When Rose* finally realized that her efforts were not going to yield the outcome she was hoping for, she became disillusioned and desperate: She pleaded. She waited. And then she got angry. “You’ve wasted my time. Do not come back.” The act was over. You could see our team leads human heart fold into itself. She ached… and she was hurt. I told her I loved how she continues to do it anyway… and then silently wondered if she really does. Does she still do it as often as she did 18 months ago? 6 months ago? 2 months ago? I know firsthand what continued hurt and disappointment and lack of response can do. It hardens you- it makes you jaded- it makes you wonder if all of your efforts are in vain. It makes you want to stop and sometimes, despite all of your best efforts, a part of you does. In a word? It makes you hesitate.

But that is all based on my own first-hand experience… from work or from ministry. This time, I watched it unfold as a bystander. And looking at Rose*- I saw myself. How many times have I performed for the Lord? Fulfilling my “Christian Duties” with the expectation of a return on my investment? How many times have I stood before Him and demanded a response? I’ve gone to Church! I’ve prayed the prayers! I’ve read the Bible! I’ve loved my neighbor. I’ve tithed my 10%! Where ARE you?! Why aren’t you giving me what I’ve asked?How many times have I turned from him and said “Forget it. You’re not worth it.”

It’s never been quite like that, but might it just as well be? I may have never turned from Him completely- but have I ever said “Fine. You’re not answering, I’ll figure it out on my own? I’ll find my own way? My own solution. My own devices. My own comforts.” Isn’t that what I’m doing every time my need for security sets in and I respond to it? And if it broke my heart to watch the hurt that our team lead tried not to show- how much greater is the pain the Lord has felt? Pain that I, myself, have caused? I’m humbled, again, by just how great His love for us is. Constant. Unwavering. Without hesitation. And we are such a hard species to love.

I am so incredibly thankful for this ministry of Rahab’s Rope and for the courageous group of young women who reside together in India. Through their example, and the Lord through them, I re-learned discipleship. And I was reminded that we are called to love without hesitation. Life is hard and thank God for His grace because, in it, we’re allowed to grow. At one point or another, we’re all a little bit like Rose*. But love prevails and hearts soften. And so, because of the relentless, consistent, unhesitant love of the Rahab’s Rope team, I also got to stand witness as the Indian women embraced love. And then they began to emulate it. They hugged. They shared. They fed. They washed feet. They reached out. Ministry is a partnership. It’s a beautiful, and sometimes a painful, dance of give & take, teach & learn… all in the freedom of grace.

MJ – Venture India Volunteer (The Mumbai Project)

* for the protection of this individual, a pseudonym has been used.

For more information on Rahab’s Rope, please visit their site by clicking on the logo below:

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