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24/7 Jesus

Well, we are back from our time in San Francisco serving with SF City Impact (sfcityimpact.com). It was a really good, really crazy, and a really disturbing experience all wrapped up into one. I have been processing all that I saw in the inner city of SF…

The six thousand homeless people in one square mile. The violence, the drug use, the trafficking, the prostitution, the poverty, the depravity, the hopelessness. The brokenness and darkness my husband and I saw there was overwhelming.

And yet there was a ray of light shining in the darkness in San Francisco. The staff and volunteers at SF City Impact were out everyday, loving and serving the people of the Tenderloin district (what they call the inner city area in San Francisco). They didn’t leave and go home to the suburbs at the end of the day. They stayed and lived it out. They were Jesus to the people of the Tenderloin, 24/7.

Michael and I had the privilege to experience serving there in many different ways. We served donuts and coffee to the homeless after church one morning at the rescue mission. We sorted clothes at the thrift store. We knocked on doors in the apartment buildings and passed out meals. I had the opportunity to go with another nurse to an apartment building to do wellness check-ups. We helped at Friday night youth group and Super Saturday (which is church for the kids in the Tenderloin). I found myself walking around the streets with one of the youth leaders, inviting kids to come to church. I had the thought several times, “this is crazy.”

I was stretched more than I like to admit. It was really hard.

Then we went to church on Sunday at SF City Impact. It was an amazing thing to see. I watched the staff and volunteers worshipping God. They loved Jesus; it was impossible to miss. They worshipped with abandon and freedom and obvious joy. It was a joy that I could see on their faces. It made me happy to watch, but it also disturbed me.

I have experienced uncontained joy over Jesus too, but it bothers me that my joy over Jesus feels a little bit unusual. Now, I was only there a few days, so I can’t say for sure that they always worship with uncontained joy every Sunday. But I’m guessing they do.

One staff member shared that she had recently had a time of prayer with God, wrestling through some deep struggles in her life. She said God asked her a question that she has never forgotten…I haven’t forgotten either.

“How much of Me do you want?”

Since we’ve been home, I’ve been doing a lot of processing, asking God what He wants me to know from our trip. One of the first verses God pointed me to was this...

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. - Ephesians 5:8-10 (emphasis mine)

Lord, what pleases you?

I have been going on a journey through Scripture, hoping to be reminded of what pleases the Lord. I figured it would be appropriate to start by looking at Jesus’ own words in the Bible. Here are some of the things I found…

“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” - Matthew 5:14-16

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.” - Matthew 5:43-45

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth…” - Matthew 6:19

“No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.” - Matthew 6:24

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” - Matthew 7:13-14

“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me...I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” - Matthew 25:35-36, 40

I could go on and on; I didn’t even get past the book of Matthew.

So I have it all figured out and know exactly what God wants us to do next, right? I wish.

I DO know several things:

I want to please Jesus.
I want the freedom and joy I saw on their faces in worship to be the norm for me, not the exception.
I want ALL of Him, no matter how much it stretches me. He is worth it.
I want this to change me; not just for a while, but forever.

I hope and pray we will get the opportunity to go back to San Francisco City Impact; maybe even take some other people with us. But if not, I know this:

I want to be Jesus to people wherever I go, 24/7.

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If you are an imperfect wife, mom, daughter, or friend, struggling to stay focused on God in the craziness and find joy in the heartache, then we have something in common. I am a recovering perfectionist and daughter of the King, slowly learning to fully trust the One who sees me just as I am, and is already pleased. I’m so glad you are here.

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