Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Many people in this city

Yesterday, I blogged about getting on my knees. Today, I was literally praying on the run. I had a brisk, powerful run this morning and an honest talk with God. Turning the corner for home, I kicked it up a notch. I started out a little tentative, but finished strong. (Both praying and running.) And isn't that pretty much how life goes at times?

I was praying about two issues churning in my brain. One concerned the news I received the previous day that Zoe, the dear woman who is the volunteer coordinator at the rehab facility where I teach, was leaving. For the past 2 1/2 years, she has been my go-to woman whenever I needed to make something happen at the facility. She is tenacious and tireless. I was discouraged, to say the least. The other concerned a disappointing email regarding a lack of volunteers for something at my church. It seemed to ring again to the feelings that had enveloped me the previous Sunday: the harvest is ready, but the workers are few.

Lord, I said, You know I am yours. You know I will do whatever you say. Multiply me, clone me, make more of me, do something, please. I'm worn out.

I confess, sometimes I feel alone. I feel like I carry too much by myself. It's not that I do it all; it's that understanding that the buck stops with me. It has a way of catching up with me. People at church rarely ask how things are going at the facility. Do they believe it all just magically happens, I wonder?

Then I thought about this passage, which "coincidentally" had been in my personal Bible study just days earlier:

"9 One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision. "Don't be afraid," he said. "Keep on speaking. Don't be silent. 10 I am with you. No one will attack you and harm you. I have many people in this city." 11 So Paul stayed there for a year and a half. He taught them God's word." -- Acts 18:9-11

No, I don't actually have reason to 'fear' for my well-being from teaching my class; there is no threat of harm or attack. But it did reassure me that God will equip me to go on, even when I feel spent, especially this part: "I have many people in this city." It spoke to me.

Paul must have looked around the city of Corinth before receiving this message from God, a city considered evil even by pagan standards, and wondered what he might be up against this time. I'm certain Paul felt alone at times. I know these words from God must have ministered deeply to him. They ministered deeply to me. Many people in this 'city.' Paul didn't know who they were then; I don't know who they are now. But they were there; and they belonged to God.

It was as if my mind and body began working in tandem. The more resolved I felt in my mind that, so be it, I will do everything in my power to push on and make something happen, the faster and stronger I ran.

Did all my worries and discouragement disappear? No, but for the moment, I found the relief I needed. Later, my phone rang. It was Pamela, the new volunteer coordinator at the facility. She wanted to make sure I had received an email from one of the Coordinators about an issue I was trying to resolve. Yes, I had, I told her, thank you!

Maybe Pamela is one of God's people in the city. As wonderful as Zoe has been, maybe God will use Pamela even more mightily; maybe she will be an even stronger advocate for me to the staff as we work to expand the ministry there.

Maybe more people at my church really will get involved. I will push past minor setbacks, remembering the encouragement of my friend, Elsie, my partner in the ministry, who reminded me today of the progress we have made just in the last 8 months. "Who would ever have thought this would have become what it is?" she asked. Yes, she is right. She is also another of God's people in the city.

Then there's Jim, my brother in Christ. I called him last night to ask for his help with something and bam, he's ready, he's available, and he's passionate. In fact, he is one of the most passionate people I know. Yes, he is also in the city.

And so is Beth, and Cathy, and Allison, and Fayetta, and JD, and Michael, and Jeff, and Debbie, and Isaac. And my husband , and my mom, and even my kids. And many more. They are all in my midst, my support system.

Our "citizenship" isn't influenced by our schedules and life demands; it's influenced by our understanding of the importance of God's work; that his kingdom takes a natural precedence over everthing else.

I wonder who God will place before me in the next few weeks? I will shake the bushes as he leads me to find them, if I must. I know there are more among me, more citizens whom He has set aside to partner in ministry with me. And for them, I will give God my heartfelt thanks today.

Copyright 2008 Just Enough Grace Publications

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