“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me.
I lift my lamp beside the golden door. – Emma Lazarus”
In a small, American town, autumn approaches. And a small, American mother’s livin’ her life. On an ordinary day, she enters the local coffee shop, a community gathering place. And sees a girl.
Veiled head bent, she’s reading, perched by the window at a high, round table. The mother stops, astonished. “Are you reading the Bible?” she says to the teenage girl with her coffee.
“Yes,” she says, shy, retiring. “I just love having my devotions here.”
FacebookTwitterGoogle+DiggPinterestBloggerAfter a short conversation, the mother takes her place at her own high, round table. She’s amazed. For the young Amish girl has just shared her favorite books (Proverbs and Psalms), she’s confided her path to salvation, and she’s received a spoken blessing from the mother. Who knows her name, now, and will pray.Let righteousness rain right down…
That evening, the small, American mother visits the annual small-town festival, livin’ her ordinary life. Her teenage son and his small brother have trotted off to score some pizza, and she and her Mister are standin’ in line for sirloin tips. She glances to the left. And sees a woman.
She’s wiping at her shirt. On the small condiment table before her sits her dinner; a helping of creamy, cheddar soup in a bread bowl. She’s gotten some on her T. So the mother slips over with some napkins. “Thank you!” says the wiping-up woman. The mother turns away. But all at once, the nudge.
She slips back to the woman standing alone. Touching her arm, she says, “I just want you to know that you’re very special to God. He has a special place in His heart for you.” There’s something…something about the woman…
Pallor and misery are etched on her face. “I just got out of the hospital,” she says, “and I’m living with my sister. My liver…and three days before my admission, my fiancee broke up with me.” Sickness and pain in flesh.
The small, American mother begins to speak. “No matter who forsakes or abandons…” Just then, a train thunders past, and the stricken woman leans forward, eager to hear life-words. The mother draws her in, presses her head to her own face and says, “No matter who forsakes or abandons us, Jesus never does.” And then she tells the Shepherd’s lamb what she told her own son days ago. “Whenever you feel pain or distress, I want you to see this picture–that Jesus puts His hand on your back. And everything you need is in His hand, and it flows right into you.”
The hurting woman, she’s nodding. “Thank you,” she says. To the mother who knows her name and will pray. Let righteousness rain right down…
On an ordinary Saturday evening, the small, American mother goes to town with her Mister. She pops into a sandwich shop. The teenager behind the counter has that lovely accent and coloring of the Hispanic people. There’s clear evidence of a cleft palate. As his hands move, building her sandwich, she speaks. Listening, asking, answering, she knows where he attends school. She knows what his “one sport” is, and she knows what he wants to be after school. And that mother, she knows his name and will pray. Let righteousness rain right down…
At the salon, she and Mister pop in. Girls need product; curly girls, for sure. Mister, who’s buyin’, asks the woman at the register, “Do you take cards with chips?” And that quick, the curly girl pipes up, “A chip on the shoulder!” Five minutes later when they leave, she knows that the employee at the salon “used to” have a chip on her shoulder, “thanks to my ex-husband.” She knows that she’s got a son (18) and twin girls (14). And she has prayed for that single mother and her kids.Let righteousness rain right down…
At the grocery store, the cashier is quick (finally! for once!), and the small, American mother praises her for “having opposable thumbs and knowing how to use them.” The cashier laughs, tickled. And 10 minutes later, the mother and her Mister walk away with this, “Have a great evening!” ringing like a chime behind them. They know that she’s a single mother with a boyfriend and a teething, miserable toddler who loves fruit. And the mother has prayed for that mother and her son. Let righteousness rain right down…
The purpose of giving you this glimpse into my ordinary life is this–to encourage you to bring righteous rain into your own God-ordained circle. This is not my calling alone. This isn’t simply my gifting.
It. Is. Ours. All of ours who name the name of Christ.
Every single one of these encounters happened in the natural flow of my daily life. Not once–not once!–did I go somewhere different. I didn’t go overseas. I didn’t “sign up” for missions. I just, well, I just lived my life with my eyes open to those who were around me. And I found them.
It is time, fellow Christians, to stop crying. To stop whining. To stop shouting with shrill voices, blaming culture. If we are not engaged in the culture, we have no right to shout. Complain. Blame. Cower in fear. I will venture out on the edge and say this: If we do not engage in our culture, we deserve what we will get.
If we want to change the culture, we cannot stay in a holy huddle. We cannot refuse to get messy. We cannot continue fishing in a sterile pool.
That kind of Christianity is a well that’s closed up, boarded tight. It is a cistern nailed down in the name of “protection,” and the water down there will turn stagnant. Stinking. Slimy and horrid, filled with disease of all kinds.
We aren’t meant to be cisterns. We’re meant to be channels. Called to have rivers of water flowing out.
You don’t have to do it like I do it. Your gifting, personality, passion is different. But you don’t get a pass because you’re different or scared or–well, anything. You don’t. Ask the Lord to open your eyes to see the hurting in YOUR circle. To see the lonely in YOUR workplace. To hear the cries where YOU shop and eat and play with your family.
In my hometown (in your hometown), a Saviour cries, “Come to Me, you tired, you poor, you huddled masses longing to breathe free; wretched refuse, homeless, tempest tossed. I lift My lamp beside the golden door.”
You and I are the hands, the feet, the lips of that Saviour. Let them come. Let us love. Let righteousness rain down.