Saturday, March 8, 2014
He asked me to pray about the word hope, this man who has no home wants me to pray about the word hope. How can I pray about hope with someone whose circumstances look hopeless? How can I offer hope to anyone when I came battle worn and weary. I came feeling like I had nothing to offer. I came feeling unworthy.
He is tall. I squint up at him, the bright fluorescent gym lights shining down on us, and I say "Hope?" He nods yes. We close eyes, bow heads, and I stand there silently paralyzed with fear. What if God doesn't give me any words to pray?! My heart screams loudly, "God this man needs hope. Give me something to pray!" More awkward silence. Then slowly the words come. I and the man are reminded that as long as we have Christ we have hope. We have all we need. We may be weary and worn, but we are loved and because He loves us we have hope. Without Him we have nothing. I pray it, this prayer that is not my own. It's just as much for me as it is for the man. I see it clearly now. I and the man are the same. Our circumstances are different but we are the same.
We both came empty and we both needed hope. He needed to know that there was hope for his life, hope for his circumstances, and that God loves him. I needed to know that when I am a mess, empty, worn, and feeling unworthy there is still hope that God can work through me. This is the beauty that is our God. He meets us in the gym that night and He sees us the same. He doesn't see a homeless man and a food pantry volunteer. He sees His children and He loves them both by showing up in their moment of need. He doesn't just have us pray about hope, He makes it clear that He is our only hope.
Romans calls Him the God of hope. "Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." Romans 15:13. The Psalms say it too, " For you are my hope; O Lord God, You are my confidence from my youth." Psalms 71:5. Hope is the expectation that God will show up. I have never known Him not to show up, especially in the midst of my hopelessness or my weakness.
There are many times in ministering to others when Satan tries to discourage us. He whispers or shouts that we aren't worthy. He fills our minds with fear of failure. If those things don't work then he'll make us feel like we have nothing to offer. He likes to plant thoughts in our minds that no one listens to what we're sharing anyway, so why bother. He tries to keep us from praying with others by making us fear that we won't know what to pray. If all else fails, he gets us to compare ourselves to other brothers and sisters in Christ so that we will think that they are doing everything much better than we are. Perhaps, the biggest lie in all of this is that ministry or serving Christ, has anything to do with us at all.
God uses empty vessels that He fills with Himself. God uses messes. I haven't met a person yet in all of Scripture who wasn't a mess in one way or another. Even David, who was called a man after God's own heart, was a mess. He was an adulterer and a murderer. God used him anyway. We don't need to have our ducks in a row to serve God.
It doesn't matter if we have nothing to offer. The Bible already says that our righteousness is as filthy rags. We can never be worthy of what Christ did for us on the cross. We will all fail at something at some point in life. Failure is just another character builder. If there were no mistakes what would we learn from? What matters is that we show up and we make ourselves available to God. All we need to do is to be where He wants us to be and love Him. He'll do the rest.
I never know what I will pray when I pray with the people at food pantry. After praying with that man about the word hope, I do know that God will show up. I'm not nervous anymore because it's not about me. It's about Him. It always was, I just didn't realize how much my insecurities got in the way. How about you? What is getting in the way of you serving God? In what ways have you lost hope? How would expecting God to show up change the way you minister to others? How would it change the way you view yourself? Take a load off. Put your hope in God.