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To be completely honest, it is incredibly intimidating sitting on top of a mountain with a host of people who are giving their lives, and in some ways their families’ lives, to serve the poor. When you hear stories of what goes on in some of these neighborhoods, it tends to diminish the “first world problems” that tend to plague those of us who are not entrenched in the sobering work of the gospel 24/7/365. The incredible thing is that, once you gather up enough courage and allow God to temper the doubt to share what now seems insignificant, something very significant begins to happen.
The theme for the week up at Wind River Ranch was “Take Heart”. Our hope was that during our time together our partners would rest and be encouraged to continue the path God has laid out for their lives. It is tough, taxing, exhausting work. It’s no wonder there is such a jubilant return to the presence of those who understand and “get” you. It is incredible to look around during the week and see God moving in subtle and not so subtle ways. The devotions were powerful, the activities were life giving and fun, but the hope that was cultivated is bar none.
“In a word, dependence is seen as immaturity.
But in My Kingdom, dependence on Me [God]
is a prime measure of maturity.” – Sarah Young, Jesus Calling.
It is so freeing to finally feel enough peace to say, “I can’t, but I know the One that can.” It’s ironically calming to say, “I don’t know what to do, but I know the One who does.” These leaders, who in many ways have so much on their plates and shoulders, are finding the courage to admit this in safe spaces, but even then, it is still very difficult. But what happens when the courage overpowers the fear? You allow yourself to be vulnerable with people God has specifically put in your life to love you exactly where you are. Broken, misunderstood, and scared. You are not shamed for being in that position, but unexplainably applauded and encouraged. In this place of humility God does His best work, because it’s not about us anymore, it’s about Him. He shows through your brokenness his strength, mercy and grace.
One of the many things these leaders show us is how to be vulnerable and broken before God and before others. They are in many ways pioneers in this. Obviously, it is unwise to be 100% broken and vulnerable all the time and with everybody. This world has shown it can be a cruel place. But with your neighbors, it is refreshing and life giving. It allows you to be authentic, real and honest. Sometimes it’s the space, but more times than not it’s the people in the space. Our partners have proven that by having created this space in countless neighborhoods across the Southeast. They have given their lives to create that space for others, and our goal at Desire Street is to create that space for them. That is why we have our coaches check in on them constantly and have our retreats for them to get together physically.
And if I am completely honest, it’s not just for them, it’s for me too. God has used these men, women and their families in incredible ways to show me whether you live in the “hood” or in Alpharetta, GA, you, your problems, and your heart matter to God and his people. They are just waiting for you to take heart, take rest, and sit at the Father’s feet with them and allow yourself to be vulnerable enough to let your true self out, so that they can love the real you, not the one the world told you that you have to be.
“So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”