Do you really believe that God transforms lives for the better?
I'm often so conflicted about the brokenness I see in the world. I had a rough day on Friday because I was meeting with a mentally ill client and his mother. Hearing his story, hearing and seeing their pain, knowing that I can't do a thing to solve any problem but perhaps the legal one is crushing to me. And add to that the fact that I also see the hundreds of ways that the system is broken and unjust and is oppressing this client... I'm still exhausted (three days later) from that one-hour meeting.
Our worship pastor got up this week at church and spoke about God's transforming power in his life. He told us his story--where he came from, how he met God, and how the very quality and experience of his life is different now. And that gives me hope. God is seeking to transform. He's seeking to transform individuals, whom he loves. And he's seeking to transform whole systems of injustice and brokenness that fall so short of the ideal he had in mind when he created the world. What's even more amazing is that he does it by somehow using us broken people to change things.
What was most interesting to me as I listened to our worship pastor sharing was that his story wasn't just about meeting God. It was about the people of God who showed the love of God to him that led him into the presence of God. This is the case in very nearly every story of spiritual transformation I've heard. For some reason, God chooses to use us, right where we are, to be Jesus to the world around us.
So then the question is how... How do we put ourselves in a position where God can use us to bring his peace and presence to the world? Where do we even start?
I think we have to start by seeking God himself. We have to know him and seek to hear his voice in our lives. Specifically, I think we have to ask him to help us see the people around us--to really see them in all their beautiful and broken humanity, and to see his vision for them. And then I think we need to pray for those people and ourselves.
About once a year I make a list of the people my life is touching. Well, it's more like a picture, actually. I use my colored pencils and I draw little boxes all over a piece of paper and put all the names of all the people I can think of. And then I hang it in my bathroom so that while I'm brushing my teeth or getting ready to go somewhere, I can see the people and remember to pray for them. When I see it there everyday, it reminds me that my life is not my own, that there are people that God longs to touch through my life.
I'm absolutely called to confront and subvert injustice in our legal justice system. But that's just one part of the calling God has on my life. The other is to be a friend to those in my world, to love them, to pray for them, and to bring the peace of God--shalom--into their lives. Indeed, I believe that whatever else you are called to, being the peace and presence of God in the world is always there too, if you're a follower of Christ.
So who are the people in your life right now, today? If you were to make a list of them and hang it in your bathroom, would that change your interaction with them? If you really believed that God transforms lives, how would that change your prayers and your interactions with them?