“The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places.” -Psalms 16:6
This picture captures the contrast and challenge of my life. The one on the left was from (The Grotto https://thegrotto.org/) a Servite order of monks in Portland, Oregon. The picture on the right is a house on my street. In fact it was the first thing I saw in my neighborhood upon my return home from my yearly retreat at Mt. Angel Abbey (https://www.mountangelabbey.org/).
This morning I am reminded of a verse I read during my trip:
“My advice to you is to buy from me that gold which is purified in the furnace so that you may be rich, and white garments to wear so that you may hide the shame of your nakedness, and salve to put on your eyes to make you see.” -Jesus (Revelation 3)
Gold, garments & eyes…is a holistic description of the missional needs for an urban worker in a multifaceted-depressed community.
The most meaningful realities gained will be attained through a deep and transformative purification. A fire of transformation awaits anyone who charges or stumbles into a life of mission and ministry among the poor, addicted or violent. You will lose so much and what you gain will be small in comparison but it will be much more valuable than you could ever imagine.
Your own ugliness will be revealed in the cauldron of facing one another’s ugliness. The only hope for meaningful work is to gain access to the grace needed to cover each other’s shortcomings and sins. Like Noah’s son, backing into the his father’s tent with a coat to cover his father who lay naked and drunk, so you will be covering others much more than you will be converting others.
Only Jesus can give you the salve needed to see things as God sees them. You will need the vision of God to perceive and discern what is needed to navigate the realities of this life. Only the Spirit of God can give the eyes and heart of faith that can: “call those things that are not, as though they were.” (Romans 4:17)
Ultimately, one is dependent on hearing the knock of Jesus and His perpetual invitation to ‘open and dine’ with Him (Rev 3) in order to sustain and succeed in living a meaningful life of love and service in a sometimes unmeasurable walk of faithfulness. Jesus tells us to buy these things from Him and its been my experience that these realities do not come cheap.