By Georgia Lee
Darkness is a slinky shadow, a foggy mist that creeps and permeates… warping truth and smothering hope… hacking apart communities and imposing barriers… and all of a sudden – we notice it. And feel very much alone and cold and soaked.
For many in our nation today – friends on the “margins” or advocates and allies – it’s easy to feel this way. To be hurting and not heard, feeling alone and unwanted. And to see the hurt of others and feel helpless, hear the screams and be overwhelmed.
YES, it is true that Jesus hears and cares and is healing the broken fragments and making all things new. YES, this is good news. BUT sometimes this feels distant. Sometimes it’s difficult to know how each of us should or can participate in this. We feel small and weak, or jaded and desensitized, or even a complicated, frustrating mix.
But I think that this could be the point? When we realize that we are small. That we are weak. That we are helpless tiny humans in the midst of the expansive fog of dark. That we can’t hold all of the pain ourselves, or take it on for others. And that, frustratingly enough, we will still always be selfish. That we will get tired of caring, forget to care, and be annoyed with the hurting. And then of course feel ashamed, and pendulum-swing to fix and solve – but then fail. We are human. We are broken. And we cannot save ourselves.
And in the fragile, toes-at-the-edge-of-dispair midst of these realizations, Jesus whispers – YES, this is who you are… and it is good to remember it. And this is the Lenten season where we find ourselves now : realizing our deep need for a Savior, bowing at His feet, and humbly confessing – here is my hurt. here is how I have hurt others. here is how I’ve tried to fix myself and others and all of the things. here is how I’ve failed. here is my selfishness and ignorance. here is my self-righteous helping. here is my frail humanity…
And the Father holds us. We are held.
But soon we get restless. We want to do something. Surely “doing something” is in the way of Jesus? And this is a peculiar tension : “doing something” in our own strength and willpower and timing ( moved by guilt, restlessness, or heroism ) is a vastly, eternally different thing than doing something as we are being held by the Father, being transformed by Jesus, and being led by the Spirit.
It is in our recognition of our brokenness that we realize that Jesus is inviting us to stay small – as He transforms our own hearts and also invites us into His work. And this is an uncomfortable heart and mindset – humbly acknowledging that as God is inviting us into the micro-level, He is the one transforming at a macro-level, as only He can… So as God invites me to be with my homeless friend in her tears, God is at work in the unjust systems of poverty and family brokenness and housing inequality. As God invites me to continue sitting next to a foul-smelling neighbor on the bus as everyone else moves to further-away seats, God is at work in the unjust systems of healthcare disparities and in the self-protecting and comfort-seeking places in all of our hearts. And as God invites me to have conversations with my fellow-privileged friends about why immigrants might just be a blessing instead of a burden, God is at work in caring for refugees hundreds of miles away, transforming the hearts of our government officials, and drawing people from every tribe, tongue, and nation into His just and loving kingdom.
God is already at work. So how will we participate and join in and “do something”? By being held by the Father, acknowledging our own smallness with Jesus, and allowing the Spirit to lead us in the seemingly-small. What if “making a difference” is partly found in allowing God to convict and heal us of our own human conditions of selfish apathy and self-righteous heroism… And also – with joy, humility, wonder, and awe – having the privilege of participating in the celebratory parade of the Kingdom that God is bringing about for His glory and our good – the Light is breaking forth…
Georgia is a bi-vocational missionary living in San Francisco. She values exploring farmer’s markets, singing in harmony, worshipping God in the ordinary, wrestling with identity, climbing trees, knowing neighbors on the margins, overusing “y’all,” connecting diverse communities, and asking hard questions.