Stretching the Comfort Zone

Sunday night our CityReach team had our last preparation session before our departure for this grand adventure.

It was a bit… awkward.

Well, it was for a moment now and then.

Of course, we could say the same for our time of commissioning prayer as various individuals came along and put their hands on our shoulders as they prayed for us. Some people are rather uncomfortable with such things. But then I suppose that’s part of the point of this whole project.

Well, sort of…

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The Great Commissioning

In just four days our team will load up on a bus and hit the road for Detroit.

Yesterday, on this Father’s Day morning, our Calvary family prayed over us. They prayed for our safety as we travel, as we step away from the comfortable confines of Stephens County.

They prayed for our smooth navigation and safe arrival and return. They prayed that we would serve well the people with whom we come in contact. They prayed that we would grow and stretch and put the gospel of grace into action. They prayed that we would go and serve and make a difference. They prayed that Jesus would shine through us.

They prayed that we would grow and that the kingdom of God would be grown through us.

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Home, But Different

We rolled back into our own city, our home, a couple of hours ago. It was a welcome sight and, quite frankly, time to get out of that van seat. I spent a lot of hours there this week.

It’s our home, just the same one that we left several days ago… but it’s different.

While we were gone our small city of about 22,000 folks endured a couple more blows to our collective heart. Significant flooding caused some serious problems for some of our neighbors – many of whom were already staggering through job losses and the deeply depressed oil industry and the ramifications thereof.

But more significant has been the gut-wrenching reality of a missing young boy who still has not been found these almost six days later. It’s heart-breaking. As we drove into town I could just feel it well up in my heart.

This city that I love is wrestling with fear and uncertainty and a brokenness that seems a lot closer to the surface than before. It’s still my home, but it’s different.

But it’s not just this city that is different. We went off to the big city of Austin and were stretched and challenged and did things that some of us had never thought to do in serving that city. We saw God do amazing things and we were reminded that we are called to come back to our home and reach our city with the love of Jesus.

We left here eager and maybe a bit nervous. We came home, but different.

I came back home, but different.

As we approached our city from the south, I found myself reflecting on what was written of Jesus as he encountered throngs of people,

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. (Matthew 9.36)

So many folks have spent so many hours searching and hoping and praying for that missing little boy and they feel helpless. So many people have had their lives turned upside down by round after round of layoffs and cut-backs and downturns and they feel harassed.

And because Jesus is at work in me, I feel compassion – which is really to feel deeply for someone. And I just want to go out and point these hurting, helpless, harassed sheep to the Shepherd who gave his life for his sheep.

Just like I would give anything to be able to bring that little boy back to his mother’s arms, shouldn’t I be just that willing to strive to bring people back to the Father that loves them so desperately that he gave the life of his firstborn to make a way for them to be reconciled to him?

My heart breaks for my city – perhaps more than ever before. For almost nine years it’s been my home, but today it’s different.

I came back home, but different.

May God take this difference in me to make a difference in this place.