Anyway, after I got home from visiting my newest grandchild, I spent two or three days catching up on housework and bills and things that oddly didn't seem to get done while hubby and son were doing the "bachelor" thing while I was gone (lol). But once I got that caught up, I started feeling kind of depressed. I had even reached the point where I seriously considered giving up my writing and try to get a "real job" again (you can read about that here!).
A few days ago, I wrote in my journal, talking to Father. I told Him:
Father, I'm so lonely. Or alone. Or something.
I long for church gathering. The Sunday street church breakfast is nice but it's just once a week. And it seems like we haven't even been really focusing on You that much, Father.
Do we NEED to "focus?" I've been starting to think so. Why don't we seem to be having the good discussion times, lately, with lots of people, like we used to? Why can't we maybe have some kind of weekday gatherings, maybe in someone's house downtown, or even in the park?
And Father, I've not been regularly meeting (focused) with You myself, either. Especially since going to the island, I've not even been reading your word regularly, except for a couple "catch-ups." I'm so behind in my read-through-the-year plan now. And doing "catch-up" just doesn't seem to cut it; when I try, I feel like I'm just rushing through, and I get more tired and discouraged, and there seems to be so little depth, and - well, I feel GUILTY, and like I'm not obeying or even loving You.
You know I've been sitting out on my front porch to try and meet my neighbors. And I smile and say hello to people I pass on the streets. And I try to be friendly and caring at Sunday street church. And you know my chat with L yesterday when she came by because she was hungry and she felt safe to come here and ask for a sandwich (well, that was cool!). And I read other people's blogs, and make comments, and write on my blogs.
But Father, these days I so often don't feel like I am really being part of Your church. I've even wondered if your church on the streets is where You want me to be.
I listened to my MP3 player (for the first time in ages) on the way to street breakfast on Sunday, and there was two songs that I'd always kind of ignored before when I listened to them. But this time I really did sense You using them to tell me You still want me with Your street family.
(Oh Father - where is everyone? I mean, there are lots of people, but it seems like people I really had developed relationships with have stopped coming. I guess that's the nature of a gathering of people who live "on the edge;" their lives are pretty unpredictable and transient and just trying to survive a lot of the time, and it's hard to track down people who often don't have a settled address or phone number. And of course some of them have come to You, and have been healed of their addictions and things, and gotten jobs, and returned to families - which is awesome. But still - I miss them!
Where are the two D's? The guy with the big grocery cart? The young man from Cuba (is he even still alive? Last time I saw him he was so ill was his brain tumor)? But oh! GJ was there this Sunday - I was delighted to see him, as he's been gone from our community for almost a year. He was such an encouragement to me last summer, just loving Jesus every moment. But this time he was high on mushrooms which was kind of sad. And Father, T and D were both reeking alcohol, which I've never seen them be like at Sunday gatherings before (though D really wanted to help with the food serving: maybe she's just lonely too?). And __ and her little boy who live in a room over the liquor store, and don't even have a fridge, and always were so happy to get the rest of the milk in the jug at the end of Sunday gatherings - they've not been around much lately. Nor have M nor J nor most of "the crew." Of course there are always new people. New relationships to build. New people to share Jesus with. But...
While I've been writing this, I've been trying to find those songs You brought to my attention the other day, but my MP3 player is being glitchy and just keeps playing the same song, over and over. Are You trying to tell me something else? What does this song say?
Everyday Lord, I'll learn to stand upon Your word/ And I pray that I might come to know You more / That You would guide me in every step I take / That everyday I can be Your light unto the world ... Everyday it's You I live for / Everyday I follow after You / Everyday I walk with You my Lord...
What to say, Lord? It's You who gave me life... I give all that I am to You / That everyday I could be a light that shares Your name. (Hillsong United)
Oh! Thank You! That's right! It's not about me after all. It's about You - and the places You take me every day, the places and people You choose for me to share Your name and light and life with. And if I'm focusing on YOU, centering on YOU, I won't be lonely, either!
And Oh! I remember what those songs were that You pointed out to me last Sunday, telling me that Your street family is where You do want me still:
" Which Jesus do you follow? .... my Jesus bled and died / He spent his time with thieves and liars / He loved the poor and accosted the arrogant .... Blessed are the poor in spirit... blessed are they that hunger and thirst for righteousness... my Jesus bled and died for my sins / He spent His time with thieves and sluts and liars / He loved the poor and accosted the rich ... Who is this that you follow... If Jesus was here would you walk right by on the other side... the word says He was battered and scarred / Or did you miss that part? ... He spent His time with thieves and the least of these .... He reaches for the hurting and despises the proud ... And I know that He can hear me if I cry out loud ... I want to be like my Jesus / not a poster child for American prosperity / but like my Jesus ... You said to live like You, love like You / but then You died for me / Can I be like You, Jesus?" (My Jesus, by Todd Agnew)And the other song:
"There is hope for the helpless, rest for the weary, Love for the broken heart. There is grace and forgiveness, mercy and healing, He'll meet You wherever you are. Cry out to Jesus ... For the ones who can't break the addictions and chains, You try to give up, but you come back again, Just remember that you're not alone in your shame and your suffering. When you're lonely, and it feels like the whole world is falling on you, You just reach out, your just cry out to Jesus..." (Cry out to Jesus, by Third Day)Yes! thank You!