Tag Archives: poverty

The Potter’s Dozen

“My entire mission in life is to help women take over the world. Not by force…but with compassion, perseverance, and love.”  Kevyn Aucoin

Slowing down last week allowed me to connect with other women, which caused me to slow down even more and attract still others. The Spirit is teaching me that motion must cease before a bond can be created and only in stillness will two things adhere to one another.  The strongest bonds are not formed with C5H5NO2, an acrylic resin called cyanoacrylate (also known as Krazy Glue).  Instead, the strongest bonds are formed with an emotional compound called love.

A year ago, the church group I was in ended.  Soon thereafter, I started a new one with about ten women in it.  Many of the 50 or so women whom I had grown accustomed to meeting with regularly, crossed over to other groups, began leading their own groups, or were otherwise plugged into another spiritual development ministry.  But about twelve women fell through the cracks.  I had received my calling, taken the training, formed a group, and pulled out of port to execute mission.  I called “all aboard”, conducted a head count and roll call for the current group, and never looked back.  Unfortunately, I am not sure that anyone else did either.  By slowing down, I realized that one of His precious dozen had been left behind.  Many of them were still standing stuck in the same cyclone, sensing the violence and destruction that can come from life’s storms.  Casting Crowns summarizes how abandoned and afraid many of them may feel:  Here I am Lord and I’m drowning in Your sea of forgetfulness. The chains of yesterday surround me.  I yearn for peace and rest.  I don’t want to end up where You found me.  And it echoes in my mind, keeps me awake tonight.  I know You’ve cast my sin as far as the east is from the west.  And I stand before You now as though I’ve never sinned.  But today I feel like I’m just one mistake away from You leaving me this way.  Jesus, can You show me just how far the east is from the west?  ‘Cause I can’t bear to see the [wo]man I’ve been rising up in me again.  In the arms of Your mercy I find rest.  You know just how far the east is from the west, from one scarred hand to the other. – East To West

The Lord put it on my heart to reach out to them. I learned that a few have moved away.  Most are adrift and disconnected from the body, feeling cut off and uncertain of their worth in His kingdom.  Without support, they entered the spiritual poverty queue and without connection, they will remain there.  To find relief from the nooses of perpetual spiritual crisis, they will have to join forces with members of the body and make drastic changes in their lives.  Those members who are in secure vessels must turn around immediately, travel back, and offer what we can.  The willing and committed will welcome an invitation to be brought back into the fold, into the security that comes with connection to His people.  As Casting Crowns continues with, “I start the day, the war begins; endless reminding of my sin. And time and time again your truth is drowned out by the storm I’m in.  Today I feel like I’m just one mistake away from You leaving me this way.  Jesus, can You show me just how far the east is from the west?  ‘Cause I don’t want to see the [wo]man I’ve been come rising up in me again.  In the arms of Your mercy I find rest, ’cause You know just how far the east is from the west, from one scarred hand to the other.”

Reaching out to these women took my focus off of the trivial issues in my own life. What I have learned so far is that in many ways, they are just like me – clay the Potter is molding.  Without Him, we tend to make choices that make bad situations worse.  Without the guidance of His spirit, we chase the immediacy of now which can move us from financial hardship or spiritual distress into abject poverty or moral bankruptcy.  Backsliding even further once we recognize that we are in crisis, we jump out of His arms and begin looking inward for the answers.  We then seek a soother and allow our orifices take the lead role in our decision-making process.  For some, it is food or drink.  For others, it is an unevenly yoked relationship or an empty wallet full of plastic that won’t close.  For all of us, it is a boastful self-reliance that has an infinitesimal fraction of the capacity of our Maker.  We seek to cope in our space when He wants us to thrive in His arms.  “How often we expect big things from God without preparing for big things from him” – Beth Moore.  Matthew 6:33 says, 33 “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and then all these things will be given to you too.”  (TLB)

What I am also seeing is that those who are seeking release, are eager to get reconnected. They look forward to the calls of encouragement and commit themselves to prayer.  The spirit is moving in them and is impacting their decisions.  The change of the internal landscape is, by default, altering their external backdrop.  Over time, they will learn their precious worth and embrace being the women God called them to be.  Through perseverance, they will learn there are so many gifts they have been given and the specific role they play in his kingdom.  They will learn to seek wise counsel and make faith-filled choices, enter into a deep relationship with God, get educated in His word, grow in their walk in community with others, and teach their children in His ways.  By showing them compassion, not judgment, we can encourage them back into His network.  But, it all begins with showing them love.

Through love, He heals the hurts that keep us anchored in the four corners of our lives. In His word, our minds are occupied and our hearts feel His grace.  When our spirits are alive we experience the success of true joy.  His love gives us the energy to begin to make faith-filled selections in other areas of our lives.  Whether it is getting a roommate or a second job, there is relief from dependence on that broke-down relationship.  By living in His word, we no longer feel the need to eat, drink, or shop through our feelings.  Through community with others, we are exposed to resources that help ensure our children are not hungry.  Leaning heavily into Him, with the support of His servants, allows us to thrive rather than just survive.  We can move from spiritual crisis to a place of stability through the trifecta of love, perseverance, and compassion.  “Whatever God is urging you to clear away cannot begin to be compared to what He ultimately wants to bring you” – Beth Moore.  We know “You’ve washed me white, turned my darkness into light. I need Your peace to get me through, to get me through this night.  I can’t live by what I feel, but by the truth Your word reveals.  And I’m not holding onto You but You’re holding onto me… In the arms of Your mercy I find rest, ’cause You know just how far the east is from the west…”

Praying for and reaching out to the Potter’s Dozen has me here:

  1. Just because there is a loud clap of thunder or a large streak of lightning does not mean that the storm will last long or that it will be destructive.
  2. In the aftermath of violent storms, there may be a mess but it doesn’t have to be lifelong chaos.
  3. Crisis is designed to be a temporary state of extreme difficulty, not a way of life.
  4. “I note the obvious differences between each sort and type, but we are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike” – Maya Angelou

Now fellow fisherman, we are being called to be fishers of women. This is no proclamation that we have it all together.  It is also not a declaration to set out on long distance mission trips to postilatize our sisters in other countries.  It is a request to reach out to our neighbors in the cities and towns around us and share the good news and some of our abundance.  27 Don’t spend your life chasing food that spoils and rots.  Instead, seek the food that lasts into all the ages and comes from the Son of Man, the One on whom God the Father has placed His seal.  John 6:27

Join the Walk of Faith

This week, I was on travel to make a presentation at a regional training conference.  The conference was in a bustling metropolitan area on a coastline with a mountain range to the east.  My morning view from the hotel was beautiful as it overlooked the sea.  However, my travel to the government facility that hosted the training was typical of an inner city commute, mired by heavy traffic.  Unfortunately, mass transportation was dangerous and insufficient and HOV lanes do not exist.  Crosswalks were not plentiful, which caused work-bound pedestrians to cross lanes of traffic at unsafe points.  Other onlookers seemed somber and appeared to stand still as if they had no place to go and no specific time to be there.  It turns out, they didn’t – no job, no home, no money, and little hope.

The pollution trapped between the eastward sea breeze and the gorgeous mushroom spectrum mountains created an early haze that took six hours of solar pressure to release.  The slow ride gave me plenty of time to see, even through the thick and opaque air, the appearance and expression of financial and spiritual poverty.  Matthew 26:11 tells us: “You will always have poor people with you, but you won’t always have me.” (GNT)

Upon my arrival at the training facility, there were long lines of people seeking applications, interviews, and appointments to gain relief from their plight.  Some will receive relief and an opportunity for a better life through escape.  Others will not.

I waded my way through the people and entered a space that had a familiar feel; one with fresh, well circulated, floral fragranced air that was absent the gazes and scents of indigence.  The circumstance created a sterile environment with a sense that all was good in the world.  Meanwhile, I was separated from hungry broken souls only by a double reinforced steel door and 100 feet.

Thankfully, God is the bridge of peace between the sturdy and the splintered.  The faux purity as well as the perceived sepsis can only gain true life through His unconditional love.  Uniquely, His love multiplies as it is divided.  To keep it, those who have it, must share it.  He sent His son as proof of His love, an act greater than any earthly father would contribute or any human son would sacrifice.  John 3:16-18 tells us “This is how much God loved the world:  He gave his son, his one and only son.  And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life.  God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was.  He came to help, to put the world right again.  Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under a death sentence without knowing it.  And why?  Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him.” (MSG)  In This Man, Jeremy Camp sings: And we just don’t know the blood and water flowed and in it all He shows just how much he cares; and the veil was torn so we could have this open door and all these things have finally been complete.  Would you take the place of this man?  Would you take the nails from his hand?

So what is our part?  I know that handing out greenbacks to every person in tattered clothing may not be the answer.  Taking every beggar into our homes may not be the long-term solution.  Moving to the slums of India may not be what we have in mind.  But there is so much we can do.  We can: smile and acknowledge the presence of as many human beings as possible; engage others in conversation while withholding judgment about how or why they got to where they are; educate ourselves that there is no hierarchy in humanity; pray, pray, and pray specifically; donate to a food pantry, or take a mission trip to volunteer our trade craft.  There are many means we have to let Jesus’ light shine through our eyes, mouths, and hands.  Jeremy Camp in Healing Hand of God tells us: I have seen the healing hand of God, reaching out and mending broken hearts.  Taste and feel the fullness of His peace, and hold on to what’s being held out – The healing hand of God. 

I reversed my ride amidst the neon signs of destitution and despair (homeless families sleeping on the street, badges of prostitution and drug use, hungry youth rumbling through trash, boarded up businesses, and constantino wired homes).  Yet I know there is hope.  I see it in the soup kitchens in churches, in the changed lives of the neighbors who are now sharing among each other the little they have, with the medical personnel who give some of their time to provide free treatment, and among those who take the time to speak to the faces of deprivation around them.  All of these are acts of love and give hope to us all.

The return car ride brought about this cascade of thoughts:

  1. God is love and love brings hope
  2. Hope breeds joy and Joy brings smiles
  3. Smiles show happiness and happiness encourages
  4. Encouragement shines lights and lights illuminate paths
  5. Paths diverge but narrow ones lead to Him
  6. He is God, the great I Am

How can we join the walk of faith of another?  By spreading the love of God.  We can’t do it if we don’t engage.  However, if we listen, ask, encourage and inspire, we can spread spiritual wealth.  When was the last time you held a conversation with the face of spiritual distress or financial hardship?  It has not been recent enough for me.  Please, join me on the walk by starting today.  What you say can make a positive difference.  Hawk Nelson tells us in Words:

Let my words be life.  Let my words be truth.  I don’t wanna say a word unless it points the world back to you.  I wanna speak your love, not just another noise.  Oh, I wanna be your light.  I wanna be your voice.  Let the words I say be the sound of your grace…