Thursday, May 29, 2014
Within these City Lights
I looked out the skyscraper window overlooking the city of Chicago. It was dark, and all I could see were lights. The beautiful city skyscraper lights and the lights from cars driving down the busy streets. The lights meant life. Life in the buildings and life in the cars, people living and traveling and working. People living wealthy and successful lives on one city block, and people living on cardboard boxes on the next block. I could not see this in the dark, but I knew because just a few hours earlier I had walked the city streets and saw the wealth and the poverty and felt the depth of brokenness and hopelessness. People striving for greater wealth, greater success, greater prosperity, while many of them were all the while missing the One who was truly Greater. People sitting on street corners asking for money and food, all the while being ignored by those who God has sent to love them.
As I looked out these skyscraper windows knowing the life that these city lights held, tears sprang to my eyes. I have sent you here, Molly. My heart was burdened and while every fiber of my being wanted to turn around and go home to the comforts that I knew there, God had already attached my heart to this great city that lay before me and all around me. If you don't go now, Molly, you never will. These words of my dad still ring in my ears and resound in my heart; Go. My heart was burdened and I knew that I must go.
Abandon. I don't think I really know what that word means. According to Dictionary.com, it means to "give up completely." According to Jesus, it is a "denial" of myself: "And He said to all, 'If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me'" (Luke 9:23).
To give up... to deny myself... abandon.
When I visited Chicago with my dad three years ago, my heart was immediately burdened. I fought it. I fought it so hard as I looked out over the city lights. God, I cannot go to a school in this city. I don't even like cities. "Go..." But I don't know anyone... All my friends are going to other schools. "Go." My family will be so far away. "Molly, go." My whole life is going to be so different. "Trust me." I'm scared. "Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for I will be with you wherever you go" (Joshua 1:9). Where You go, I'll go.
Abandon. It means different things for different seasons of life and for different people whom God has called. For me in that moment, it meant giving up my own desires and plans for my future for God's desires and plans. Little did I know then the work that God would do in my heart over those next three years as I allowed God to strip me down of everything that I thought I was and needed to be and began to slowly build me back up into who He wants me to be. I did not know that the heartstrings He had attached to the city of Chicago that night would not be easily severed or that He would ask me to do further ministry to the people there.
The reason I am writing tonight is to ask you to pray for me and for the people I will be ministering to in the city of Chicago this summer. I am a firm believer in prayer, knowing that God hears the prayers of His people (Psalm 34:7). I am a firm believer in the power of prayer, knowing that the God we pray to has the power to change hearts and lives (Psalm 62:11). And, frankly, I don't. I have been reminded again and again that I can do nothing in my own strength, for when I try I fail or burn out.
This summer, God has asked me to minister in a neighborhood on Chicago's West Side. While I am not getting on an airplane to enter an overseas, foreign country, I am flying back to a city to minister to an impoverished, crime-ridden neighborhood that so desperately needs the hope and love of God. If you would like to commit to praying for me this summer, I would love to know so that I can send you updates of my internship throughout the summer. You will be a great encouragement to me.
I will be ministering with Breakthrough Urban Ministries in their women's center, leading devotionals, co-facilitating a women's trauma therapy group and a support group, and building relationships with the women who live at the center. I am so excited for this opportunity that I have been given, yet ask that you would help to cover me, the women's center, and the women in prayer. God is asking me to go with little resources, asking me to have faith that He will provide for me, for my next month's rent, for my school bill, for my daily needs. Where God calls, He provides. I am so thankful for this truth and am looking with much anticipation to see how He will provide!
"Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see" (Hebrews 11:1).
Abandon. I believe that it has a lot to do with faith. Giving up completely, denying myself and my own desires and plans, picking up my cross every day and choosing to follow hard after Jesus. It is not easy and yet it is the definition of the Christian life. I cannot see how God will provide for my needs, yet I have confident assurance that He will. I cannot see the work that He will do both in my life and in the lives of the women He is sending me to this summer, but I have a confident hope that He will work. I am thankful that it is He who will be walking these city streets with me this summer, for Christ is the only One who knows the deep parts of the hearts of those I will pass by and those I will minister to. And He knows the deep parts of my own heart and its needs.
Though my heart is torn because I am leaving behind a summer filled with the family I love, I know that "my faith will be made stronger in the presence of my Savior. Spirit, lead me where my trust is without borders. Let me walk upon the waters wherever You would call me. Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander and my faith will be made stronger in the presence of my Savior" (Hillsong, Oceans).
Abandon... He has called me to nothing less than this.