Recently, I decided to drive through Winnipeg's North End. I wanted to see for myself the part of the city that everyone tells me to avoid.
I saw heartache, felt it as a woman leaned against the dirty brick of an old hotel in a known prostitution district, where rooms are rented by the hour. Another woman with orange-red hair walked in front of my car. Her eyes gambolled beneath a glaze of overstimulation. She barely made it across the street. Old men with long, frizzy beards stood on the sidewalks, their net worth bundled up in shopping carts.
No one wants to see this desperation.
So we chase after the larger city, a Winnipeg lined with beauty. Two grand rivers intersect at The Forks. Elms canopy the boulevards. And we are touched by extraordinary angles of architecture.
We are blessed by churches and cathedrals.
But a lot of the folks living in the North End can't see much beyond their shoes.
I wonder if church life, to them, resembles a dressy pair of oversized shoes. Nice if you can score a pair. But they'll never fit. Not really.
As I'm turning street corners, I'm also turning over questions. Is Jesus truly relevant to the cold, hard concrete of their lives? Or have I reduced Christ by making Him relevant (only or mostly) to my own problems, struggles and dreams.
“Call to Me, and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.” (Jer. 33:3)
Am I ready to hear those things? Don't I know enough already?
Jeremiah was cast into a cistern. There was no water. Nothing to sustain him. Only mud.
Ebed-melech was somebody who believed in answers. He called out to hear God's great and mighty things. They weren't just answers to personal dreams or struggles. They weren't songs or words of emotional encouragement to lift his spirit.
They were great and mighty things.
God put Jeremiah's imprisonment on his heart and told him to do something.
“Keep calling to me,” He says. “I will show you.”
First, God gave him access to the king, his men, and the storeroom of his palace. Think of all the treasures and rich solutions at his disposal.
Good for him, right? But I don't have any resources like that.
But then God takes him deeper, takes him beneath the storeroom. God points to a pile of worn-out garments and rags. Ebed-melech grabs them and uses them to pull Jeremiah out of a pit.
God provides, yes?
I believe those words. In fact, I'd probably repeat them to myself all day long as I rummaged through the palace to find the perfect solution. Is this ladder long enough? Where's the rope? Is this even my job? Maybe I should grab some gold and just hire a contractor?
Worst case scenario? While Jeremiah is kneeling up to his neck in mud, I'm stuck at home, still beseeching God to meet my needs and solve my problems.
God-vision looks so different than my own.
Am I willing to call out for it? Am I worried these “mighty things” will take me into some uncomfortable neighbourhoods of the spirit?
Father, show us where these people are. Show us the ones who wait for You in muddy pits because we've been rescued and redeemed. With a purpose.
Tell us Your great and mighty things. Show us what to do, what to reach for. We need Your vision.
Because if we stick with our vision, we'll likely ignore any answers that look like worn-out clothing. The clock is ticking. Jeremiah's in the mud. He's been waiting for us, praying we don't miss anything.
Linking with Laura Boggess at The Wellspring.