“When the servant of the man of God got up and went out…an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. ‘Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?’ the servant asked. ‘Don’t be afraid,’ the prophet answered. ‘Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.’ And Elisha prayed, ‘Open his eyes, Lord, so he may see.’Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.” – 2 Kings 6:15-17
On Thursday nights, you can find a group from Shores of Grace in downtown Recife participating in the ministry that we call ‘Street Church.’ A fountain takes center stage in the town square where we minister – it is a place where people both bathe and wash their clothes. The water is a murky green and stagnant. The bushes that surround the raised sides are filled with rats and you can watch them run around, scavenging amongst the trash. A couple of blankets can be seen in the middle of a dirt lawn and a young woman is lying there, asleep. Pre-teens and teenagers waunder around with plastic water bottles containing glue, stuck down their shirts. Their young bodies have heavy eyes and clumsy movements, as they inhale the fumes. Little kids sit around or find objects in the dirt to play with. Men and women sit in small groups of twos or threes on the park benches.
The needs of each person in that place are endless. The mental illness, addictions, prostitution, homelessness (and more) staring you in the face, all at one time, can be overwhelming.
You can begin to feel very small, very limited, very useless. I ask, “But what can I do in two hours when a lifetime of need is before me?!” and God responds, “What can’t I do? Remember who I AM. I am their Father first.”
As I look down at my hands, empty and limited, I remember the One who dwells within me. Our perspective can no longer be solely an earthly one when we walk with GOD within us! Because don’t we know where we see the Red Sea, He sees dry land? Where we see a rock, He sees a spring of water. When we see a fortified city, He sees the wall-breaking obedience and worship of His people. When we see hungry people, He sees a gathering for a feast. When we see brokenness, He sees healing.
And He doesn’t just see it, He reveals it, inspires it and He brings it!
Who He IS allows me to minister from rest and peace: I am more aware of all His goodness and love than of everything else I see with my physical eyes. In this place, the size of the ‘army’ in front of me does not matter, and I can interact with the joy and peace that comes from confidence in the Lord, bringing His Kingdom.
You see, He was at this town square before I was. He’s been singing over these children of His for their lifetimes. He has been steadfast in His love for them since the dawn of time. I may be seeing their need for the first time, but He has lived with them through it – constantly wooing and whispering His affections to them.
He isn’t overwhelmed by the need, though His heart aches for them.
He knows who He is.
And He knows the power of their ‘Yes’ to Him, because of the power of what He has done for them on the cross.
His identity draws me into rest and awakens faith within me.
His identity moves me to action.
And I know that no matter how little my actions seem to do in that place, He will be there when I leave.
For He is their Father, as He is mine.
My prayer for you is that you would know God’s greatness in the midst of the ‘army’ in your life, and that the next time you feel overwhelmed your eyes would be opened to His presence and perspective. Amen!