Restoring Places Long Devastated

Until the Whole World Hears

March 6, 2012

Daily Devotions written by Shelley Brandon, Grief and Encouragement Coach

Isaiah 61: 4 – 6

4 They will rebuild the ancient ruins
and restore the places long devastated;
they will renew the ruined cities
that have been devastated for generations.
5 Strangers will shepherd your flocks;
foreigners will work your fields and vineyards.
6 And you will be called priests of the LORD,
you will be named ministers of our God.
You will feed on the wealth of nations,
and in their riches you will boast.

The village that we worked in building houses is situated on land that was once a thriving but now abandoned plantation.  Few of the original concrete buildings remain.  Anyone who had been fortunate enough to claim one was blessed indeed.  Most of the dwellings were mere shanties thrown together with rusted scrap metal.  No light, no window, a blanket for a door, dirt the only floor.  The floors were swept every morning by women who carefully tended their meager homes, grateful for some type of shelter from the elements.

The homes that we built for them were smaller than my bedroom.  One 8’x10’ room with one window, a plastic skylight in the center of the metal roof, a real metal door, cement floor, dry-walled inside and cement board with stucco on the outside made a home.  A metal awning in front for a covered porch nearly doubled the living space.  Most of their days are spent outdoors and this awning provided both shelter and shade.  This modest building was more than most of these families has ever known.  The simple gifts we brought along for the families were for them more extravagant and overwhelming than any Christmas I’ve ever experienced.  Tears of gratitude and joy filled their eyes as their new homes were dedicated to them.  Tears of overwhelming humility filled ours.

As each home was dedicated, the team that built the dwelling went inside with the family, the mission directors and a Guatemalan Pastor named Hermanos Jesus (does it get any cooler than that???  Sir Jesus!)  The other teams surrounded the house in a human chain of prayer.  As Hermanos Jesus presented each family with the Gospel of Jesus we all prayed for the Holy Spirit to break through the bond of Mayan religion that had been co-mingled with Catholicism into a warped and twisted belief system that had glass-topped coffins in the churches with a wax Jesus inside.  In two of the houses that bond was broken!! In another it was cracked as the mother committed her life to Jesus in spite of the controlling fear that had been instilled into her children by her absent husband. The fourth family was not yet ready to make the commitment, but did not outright reject our Savior asking that the evangelism team come back to talk with them more.  This evangelism team held discipleship meetings in the village every week.  They would not be forgotten.

We weren’t prepared for the spiritual battle that we’d been warned about.  Everything from the noise of the village children, dogs fighting with each other near us that had been napping together earlier, loud music from somewhere that had not been heard all week, a Pepsi truck driving back and forth on the narrow dirt road trying to sell his sodas to the villagers and some guy with a P.A. system on his truck verbally running his own commercial for whatever it was that he was trying to sell.  Anything that could distract us from our prayer vigil was used against us, even the weather.  The only rain we encountered all week fell in those few hours.  Our mission for the eternal destination of the wonderful people was under attack.  When the distractions became too much, we sang.  Any song we could remember the words to we sang, from Jesus Loves Me to Revelation Song.  I have never been so spiritually exhausted as I was when we were finished but I have never been so content in the moment either.

To Be Continued…….Image

You want me to go where???

Isaiah 6

Isaiah’s Commission

 1 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. 3And they were calling to one another:

   “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty;
   the whole earth is full of his glory.”

 4 At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.

 5 “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.”

 6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7 With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.”

 8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”

   And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”Isaiah 6

How easy would it be for us to say, “Here I am Lord, send me!”, when faced with magnificence that Isaiah saw in his vision?  I think I would be much like Arnold Horschach from Welcome Back Kotter.   “OOH, OOH, OOH!  I’ll go, I’ll do it! Send me!!!”  Just the thought of such holiness brings waves of longing and contentedness and wonder.  Looking around at the broken world around us, who among us wouldn’t desire to gaze on the glory of the Lord?

And yet it is this broken world around us that claims the gaze of God.  It is this world that He desires us to go out into on His behalf, shining His radiance to the ones He loves.  But whom is it that God loves?  Whom are we to love on His behalf.  Surely not the homeless man who sleeps in the trees at the park each night and searches for pop cans during the day to buy enough alcohol to keep him numb during the long frigid winter nights.  God would not want us to love the young woman who walks the streets looking for her next “job”, oblivious to her beauty and worth in the Lord’s sight.  Would He really ask us to help the fatherless boy who walks alone, head down and paints incredible works of art on the side of the buildings while his mom works three jobs.  His artwork is just graffiti after all, not potential.

We can come up with a million reasons why we should just stay to ourselves.  Money, time, safety, “that job belongs to someone else, God didn’t wire me that way.”  “I’m too shy, I wouldn’t know what to say.”  Yes, these are my reasons.  It’s so easy to say, “God, send me!”, and yet when He says GO, I say, “Ummmmmmmm, I didn’t really mean that exactly Lord, could you just send me somewhere else?  Maybe somewhere not quite so …  real.  OK?”  But where we live is real.

Start with a smile.  Progress to a “Hello”.  Maybe even, “How are you?” and then wait for a real answer.  Pray for them, then ask to pray with them.  Pack a lunch for the homeless guy.  Look the young woman in the eyes and smile.  Show her that you truly see her.  Maybe bring the young man some paints and paper.  Service to God doesn’t have to be hard.  It doesn’t take much to show people that you care about them.

Heavenly Father, we long to see your glory.  Remind us that we do see you everywhere we are, everywhere we look.  We see you in the world that Jesus came to serve.  Help us to see that the places Jesus walked are the same places we are to walk.  Among the broken, the poor, the hopeless.  It’s grungy work, but we are grungy people too.  Our mission is here and now.  Forgive us Lord, for wanting to walk away instead of walk toward your world.  In Jesus’ name, Amen

Mercy in Me