Tuesday, February 26, 2008

What do you see...?

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I spent some very refreshing time in Mark 9:14-29 this morning and after carrying my own "corpse" to Jesus seeing "him" rise up, I spent time in worship and then went for a prayer walk in the neighborhood. I had remembered that my mailman had mentioned that drug users had discarded their needles on my street, so I decided to grab my camera and go see if I could document this plight. I ventured out on my little prayer & portrait exercise and ended up at the end of my street with no needles found. As I was walking the Lord spoke to my heart and challenged me about what I was choosing to look for...if you want to find death you can find it but the true challenge is to discover life among the dead. So with a refocused heart, I set out to walk some streets I normally don't and allow the incense of prayer and praise to spill out as I walked.

As I did my heart was yet again burdened with the blight, bruises and marks of sin, depravity, hopelessness and just plain disgusting waste of humanity. The garbage is thick in my neighborhood...bottles from all forms of alcohol, household refuse, litter all over the streets and in the dirty post snowfall...its like a sewer of discarded waste. Cast aside broken furniture, a graveyard of rundown cars, countless windows that scream poverty with their blankets instead of curtains. Yards that stink up the very street with their dog crap that doesn't get shoveled. Broken windows, a mosaic of scattered glass that is sprinkled all over the sidewalks and streets.

Wrappers are our flowers...tossed aside with careless disdain, junk from everything that cheap grocery stores peddle to feed the nutritionally impoverished poor. Hidden alleys reveal used condoms from late night tricks and discarded panties on the dirty ground. Vacant houses, broken down, boarded up...moan the dirge of decay. In a moment of overwhelmed disgust..I murmur how much of a shit hole this place is. Reality is Faiths wicked sister. I stumble down the sidewalk as I try to scrape off the doggie dung from my shoes, after stepping in it while prayer walking...oh the glory. I feel a tinge of anguish and anxiousness as my mind is invaded with guilty thoughts of raising children in such beauty challenged places. Yes, walking this neighborhood can be a horror seen through the natural eyes.
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But in my pilgrimage of prayer I find small edens....sacred groves. Spots where artists have painted me prophecies of a greater power than sin. Some streets where houses shoulder up to actual homes that reveal love and family in their gardens and well situated fountains and birdhouses. Corners that are like little flowers in this busted up concrete wasteland. I find myself bowing in my heart as I sing a song of redemption, the highway cars drown out my voice but I know Jesus is listening...that devils are fleeing. Song and prayer and tears fall like heavens rains on the trashy streets. Yes, faith can see something more than the bleak present. Dreams and hopes wash the sidewalks with each step...every step a reclaiming, a act of defiance...a battle with death.
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God always asks the prophet..."What do you see". I confess...I see by the grace of God...a neighborhood being invaded by the Kingdom of God...one step at a time.
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