Yesterday, we rolled up our sleeves. It is time to get to work. Oh Lord, give us a mind to work.
Our city is not doing so hot. We've been in the news, mostly for the opiate crisis. We are #1 for overdosing. But my hope is that the tide is turning, thanks to the church standing together to do something about it. We are pleading with God for restoration. We hit our knees and said God, you are good and faithful and you went to the depths for us, so you will do it again. You are already doing it.
In the morning at Apex, Tim and I attended a training, the first in a three part series, to become a "recovery house church." It took me back to my psychology training. We learned all about the brain, and addiction from a neuroscience standpoint. Then we learned about how the church has typically been viewed, and what is needed now. Every person addicted to drugs needs holistic care, and that includes spiritual and social care. That is where we come in. I learned not to underestimate the power of our resources. We have much to offer, a relationship with Christ being the primary thing! And from that relationship we can offer LOVE, BELONGING, CONNECTION! When it got to this part of the training, I thought, wow, YES! We have ALL those things! Now you are speaking my language!
And although we have spiritual and social needs, we can also help with the other ones. We can be a link to those other resources that cover needs we can't (medical, therapeutic, etc). God has been so generous to us in meeting all of our needs and now it is time to show that generosity to others in need. It reminds me of Nehemiah, when he opened up his table to 150 men every night. My table seats six, 8 if we squeeze. We have a family of four. That means, we most definitely have room at our table. I have been given MUCH love, connection, and belonging through Jesus. And the body of Christ is awesome at that! When we think about helping someone out of addiction, we don't think we have anything to offer. But everything we have is an opportunity to love. Going to the grocery store with love. Sharing a verse with love. Inviting someone to coffee with love. Listening with love. Driving to a doctors appointment with love. We don't realize that love is our biggest resource, and we have it abundantly in Jesus.
Last night I had the privilege of gathering with many in Courthouse Square in my city, Dayton, Ohio to gather around God's Word. We did some bold things. We read an entire book of the Old Testament together. We lifted high the name of Jesus. All different churches gathered. Many denominations, ages, ethnicities. For all the ways we are different, we are united when we are praising Jesus Christ, lifting His name high, reading His Word. This felt like a slice of heaven itself.
We read through the book of Nehemiah, a narrative that we hope foreshadows what will be the narrative of Dayton. We are hoping that God restores Dayton as He did Jerusalem. We are praying that He would use us workers, equip us and help us to fight the enemy who would attempt to stop us. We want to see Dayton thriving in Jesus' name.
With one caveat. The end of Nehemiah was such a bummer. The people, despite a restored city, turn their backs on God yet again. We pray we will see the other side of the opiate crisis, children reunited with their recovering parents, whole families coming to Jesus because of His undeniable hope, those restored now turning to the work of restoring. But we don't want Him to stop in Dayton or with us, his servants who still struggle with sin. We want Him to return and restore us all in full. We want to see every nation bow down and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, no matter what their crisis, no matter what their city.
Jesus is already in Dayton. Because He is always the first to volunteer to go to the messiest of places. Now we are just following Him and showcasing Him, shining a light on His grace and mercy and peace that He offers through His salvation. Yesterday, it was all about the body recognizing the hope we've found in Jesus and saying YES to the Lord that we will share it with those most desperate.
So now, for the joy set before us, harnessing the Lord's joy for our strength, we get our hands dirty. Together, we seek out those who need all that God gave to us. He did not give me these gifts to keep to myself. And I take up my sword, the Word of God, truth, as I know full well how the enemy RAGES against God's work. And we build. And we fight. And we build and we fight together.
Today, that means calling a few families who are supporting loved ones in the midst of recovery or addiction. Maybe I can love on them today. In the future, my prayer is that it will mean adopting or fostering a child, perhaps replacing a legacy of addiction and beginning a legacy of Jesus. Maybe that will mean coming alongside parents who are already trying to replace that legacy themselves. Who knows? But I do know it will be good. God is doing a new thing.
What is God calling you to do? How is He calling you to work? Is there grit already in your fingernails? I love this sweaty, hard working, yet grace filled CHURCH that loves to build and renew and restore in such a way that people far away say, "That has got to be Jesus. There is no other way. ONLY JESUS could do something like that." That is who we are church! We've got that ONLY JESUS grit. Let's get to work.