I've been wondering lately, how much in my heart have I expected this journey into inner city ministry to be just like what I've witnessed in my favorite films. It's so easy to fall for a romanticized view of inner city ministry. A view that believes that everything will be "perfect" and work out just as YOU have planned.
Things are far from perfect here. My days are long. Conflict is served on a regular, backbiting, entitlement, slander, you will be used, you will be disrespected, you will be cursed out, relationships with your neighbors will change and some may even end. As I mentioned above, I love chick flicks because they are so predictable. What made ministry difficult for me at times was that I couldn't
- you going to get along with everyone ALL the time
- the kids you minister to will hear the message of the gospel and their lives will change...not immediately... but real soon
- your neighbors will always have nothing but good to say about you, they won't do you any harm
- you wont be used or taken for granted
- people are going to taste and see that the Lord is good and be hooked, they won't turn back to their destructive lifestyles
- the kids you minister too will always think your cool and fun to be around
Some of these things may sound real ridiculous to you, but based off of how I was responding to certain situations, it was evident these lies had become my truth. No where at anytime, at any point in this calling did the LORD promise me any of these things. The Lord never said, to any of us, that when we preached the gospel to those who are sick that they would 1. Hear the message or 2. Repent. We preach out of HOPE, we preach because of the goodness and mercy that we have experienced, we preach because the message is just too good to keep to ourselves, we preach leaving the results to the LORD and trusting him to bring growth to the seeds we've planted.
A couple of weeks ago my husband and I were discussing the gospel and its responses as we reflected on our years in ministry, the passage he brought to my remembrance was Isaiah 6:
Now, I don't know about you, but I'm not to sure if I would have been quick to say, "send me, I'll GO". That puts a whole new spin on Lecrae famous song and that passage for that matter. Isaiah was warned by God that almost no one would hear his message, dude didn't care. He still went and with much boldness. I'm having to come to the realization that much of my preaching the gospel was for selfish reasons-my own glory. Why else would I get frustrated or weary when I wasn't seeing the results I wanted to see?
So much of our unhappiness in our circumstances come from us believing that God has promised us something when He hasn't. This life we live , this message we preach has every bit to do with HIM and HIS kingdom. He loves us, no doubt, but Ive realized that the very things that would make me happy have nothing to do with Jesus, but have every bit to do with my own comfort, affirmation, and what I believe would bring me fulfillment. Believing those lies has had me on some serious sinking sand and desperately wanting more.
After this sabbatical, I sense the Lord sending me back into my hood with new and revived expectations. Expectations that are found from the promises that God has clearly laid out in his word.
Promise 1: God brings the increase ultimately to the seeds we plant.. results are HIS!
Promise 2: As I tread onto enemy territory, God will be with me every step of the way. I don't have to worry about my neighbors or myself.
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” - Joshua 1:9
Promise 3: I don't have to be in control, as a matter of fact, I'm NOT in control. God is in control and His plans will always prevail. He knows exactly what He's doing in Washington Park. No matter how things may look or seem, I must remember that He got this.
For me, this isn't a Hollywood story, and yet I DO KNOW the REAL ending of this one and it's where the King of Glory has the victory. And one of the dopest things to me, is that God would use this crooked stick to be apart of it. Grace is so amazing.