I have a prayer.
I have a prayer, and I am asking my God, my Savior, my Friend, my Protector, my Guide, the Keeper of my heart to answer my prayer.
I have a prayer that those who call themselves Christians all over this nation, and all over this world, will become desperate seekers of God.
I have a prayer that those who call themselves Christians will look into the Bible and see the wealth of spiritual guidance and HOPE that is to be found in the very Words of God.
I have a prayer that in their spiritual journey through His Word, they will see themselves, and they will be broken so that they can be fixed.
I have a prayer that those who call themselves Christians will spend so much time digging into God’s Word that they cannot help but realize the very deep and penetrating call that is on their lives to GO, and to DO - and that they will become so absorbed with their own calling to go and do that they will not have much time left to dig for the perfect social media post to make it look like they go and do.
I have a prayer that those who have expressed such deep concerns about homosexuality actually have friends who are gay, and for whom they care about. Not as projects. As human beings and friends.
I have a prayer when those who call themselves Christians read the Words from God, that they will fall to their knees and weep for every single time they have slandered and abused another human being with their owns words, sometimes, often, trying to excuse themselves by calling it “prayer requests”. That the faces of those whose characters they decimated will come before their eyes, and confession will fall from their lips.
I have a prayer that hearts will break for the poor - that those who call themselves Christians will realize they cannot/should never have/are not excused for - abdicating the care of the poor to the government or some other organization they can simply throw a few old canned goods at once a year. And that their stomachs will churn as they recall every time they disregarded offering help when it was needed - because as they read God’s Words, they discover He says He will cast away those who did not help people in need - every time they had a chance.
I have a prayer that as Christians dig into God’s Word, they will become so enthralled with the life He has to offer, they will no longer make excuses for their own behavior.
I have a prayer they will own up to the fact that divorce, obesity, gossip, lying, and covetousness are woven into the fabric of the Church just as they are a part of society, and that those who call themselves Christians are not elevated above the rest of the world - the playing field is leveled.
I have a prayer that those who call themselves Christians will meet a God who cared for a multitude of people who turned to Him, and from Him repeatedly - yet received every single individual who returned to Him with open arms.
I have a prayer they will take note of this God Who loves the world deeply and eternally, so much so that he died for them - before they even tried to change a single thing about themselves.
I have a prayer that those who call themselves Christians will stop and assess - how many lives are they, themselves, individually, truly affecting, blessing, encouraging?
Does anybody look at them and know they are Christians because of how much they love each other? And if they cannot remember the last time they did something for someone else simply because they know God expects it from them - I pray fear and conviction fills their hearts. Because He is a God of going and doing.
I have a prayer that Christians will discover the enormous God Who was big enough to create everything and every individual in the world - and is big enough to take care of it still, and that in that discovery they will begin to go and do - and be blessed with peace and hope and joy that seems to be lacking in so many Christian lives.
There are times in life when you just keep moving forward, even though it becomes more difficult each day to swallow around the ever-present lump in your throat. You move and you go. You confer with your beautiful bride-to-be-daughter, and run to Hobby Lobby five hundred and forty two times in three days. You cut, you sew, you plan. You use a hot glue gun and burn your fingers. You organize, you arrange, you talk, and you try so very hard not to think too much about the lump in your throat - and the piece of your heart that is fighting the knowledge that life is about to change, and once more you have to let go.
You realize you cannot fathom how you got here. How did all that time go so quickly by? You know you tried to give it your all as a mom, and now you hope and pray it was your best. Softball games, vacations, homework, laughter, running together, crying with her, fighting for her, hoping and dreaming with her and the overwhelming knowledge of how much you love that woman, ever that baby, populates your dreams, and every tired moment when you are alone. And you avoid those times alone. You avoid sleep, because as happy as you are with knowing she will be in good hands when she becomes a wife, and as much joy as you know will belong to her wedding day, there is still a part of you that wants to reclaim those days that have passed way too fast.
As time flies by during the busy preparations, you often find yourself stopping to look at that beautiful woman, and her charming husband-to-be. You love them so much, but you have to quickly turn away and swallow the lump again. There is work to be done, and you cannot allow yourself to succumb to the bitter part of this bittersweet journey called life. You focus on the rejoicing - her happiness, her beautiful and bright future, the knowledge you will soon gain yet another son.
And yet, behind it you still see that tiny little face. Those baby hands signing “no” before she could actually speak. You hear her little three-year-old voice telling you why the only food she ever wants to eat is popcorn - "It tastes the best!" You remember the softball game, when she was playing first base in ninth grade. You could hardly believe she was a teenager, old enough to play for a high school team. And suddenly a sand-hill crane swooped down over the field, and all the girls stopped to watch it fly low, then soar to the heavens. And soon after, the inning was over, and your awesome fourteen-year-old first base player came running through the fence and yelled in excitement, “Hey Mommy! Did you see the Pterodactyl?” And you hear the laughter of the parents in the stands, but echoing in your mind is, “Hey Mommy, Hey Mommy, Hey Mommy!”
How did the time escape so quickly?
You shake it off, before the tears can flow. There is so much work to be done, and you want the day to be just perfectly perfect for her and her groom.
Suddenly, you find yourself standing next to your very handsome son, who has flown in for the wedding, and you see the church, and her groom standing at the front. And you swallow the lump hard, and bring yourself fully present into the moment. Because you know, YOU KNOW, this evening is going to fly by - and you want to capture it all so you can hold it in your heart forever. And you do. You have a wonderful time. You pray. You sing. You hug them both. You pose for pictures. You take pictures. And before you know it - everyone is holding streamers, and the joyful couple whisks through the streamer tunnel, jumps into the car, and drives away.
And you take a deep breath, and begin to clean up. Always moving forward. Never thinking too much.
The next day you head home. And, for the first time in a week, you sit down. You contemplate. And finally, you allow the tears to flow. They are tears of sorrow for how quickly precious time has flown, and they are mingled with tears of joy, because you saw how completely happy your baby was on that very special day.
Sometimes it is difficult to capture with words the ways my life has changed spiritually through my involvement with The Torch. These past few days, as I have prayed for the people I have the privilege to serve from the food truck, I have been overwhelmed with the Presence of God - and the sense of His immeasurable love for everyone.
I have the privilege of manning the window for the food truck - which means I get to greet and take the order of every single individual who comes to dinner. There is nothing else I do in life that humbles and blesses me as much as doing that. And as I sat and prayed for the hundreds of faces which are captured in my mind - the snippet of a Bible verse became a mantra pulsing through my prayers: “... ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine…”.
And then, I began to weep. And tears stream now as I write, because, as a Christian, I know “The least of these” are people who matter greatly to God, and to me. I weep because I think about the question: Who are they? The knowledge tears at my heart. Because the least of these are the people our society throws away. They are the ones who don’t matter. They don’t produce. They don’t generate money. They are not the most beautiful, handsome, charming, successful, powerful, admired people. They aren’t necessarily going to be world-changers. They are easiest forgotten and ignored. After all, they might need our help and love and support for their entire lives. Heaven forbid. They might not be capable of changing worldviews or situations. Therefore, what could we possibly need them for? Why should we waste our precious resources?
The least of these. My heart aches as I think about the callous assumption that the importance of a human life rests on societies’ scale of judgment. As a human being, I should care. As a Christian, I am compelled to act.
God has used The Torch to change and challenge the spiritual part of me. I can no longer just say I care; I am moved to put action to my belief. I can no longer nonchalantly dismiss my fellow human beings, hiding behind Scripture to protect my own personal kingdom. I have to do something to try to change the reality of how people are viewed and discarded.
Loving others, is a heavy, heart-breaking burden, especially when they are people who appear different. But, as I grow closer to God, and seek to align my life with His Word - I realize that caring for the poor, and reaching out to help other people is not optional like I used to think it was. It isn’t something for me to leave for “someone else” to do, whoever that might be.
As we go about doing what we do at The Torch, Sarah and I often find ourselves accused of “enabling” people. All I can say to that is, I sure as Hell hope we are. I hope we are enabling people to realize how much other people matter. And I hope we are enabling the least of these to acknowledge their infinite value and worth outside of society’s disdain and judgment. I hope they are enabled to see that we sometimes spend hours preparing for a meal that takes an hour to serve because they are worth it. I hope that tired moms are enabled to have one night each week where they can sit in the grass and eat good food without having to cook, or scrape together their last few dollars to pay for gas to get there - or for the meal itself. I hope we enable them to see we view them as having equal standing with us before the very Kingdom of God. I hope we enable them to experience a taste of His love.
They may be the least of these according to society, but for us at The Torch, they are counted among the most valuable created beings on Earth, worthy of our tears, our heartaches, our prayers, and most certainly, our food.