i don’t know if i’m alone in this, but i often am tempted to believe that i don’t have what it takes to experience the life God has for me. that maybe if i had more competencies, or more experience, or more of something…than i would maybe be ready to live out my calling.
ben and i moved to a neighborhood in the northeast part of kansas city, east of troost. and i think its easy for ben and i to feel under-qualified to take that on. and we wonder about gentrification. or if its even helpful.. or what the heck we are even doing. did we hear Jesus’ voice right? i look at the injustices on our street and i am tempted sometimes to believe that if i was more “gifted” than Jesus could really redeem the injustices on brooklyn ave. for one, maybe if i had the education or the means, we could empower and educate residents to own properties and fill all the empty abandoned houses that draw in all kinds of crime and blight.
recently i have been practicing “immanuel journaling”. its when you ask God what he is saying and then you wait for him to respond. and when you start to hear his voice, you write out what you think he might be saying. as if God is writing a letter to you.
and i feel like i hear the Lord ask me.
“what are you afraid of, kerri?”
and i write out all these things i’m afraid of. but the one thing that resonated the most was..
that i’m not enough.
the next question in the practice was to ask God how he sees me.
i ask, “God how do you see me?”
and this is awkward, you know? i’m waiting in silence. thinking this is weird, to like say something to myself that God might be saying. but i’m open and i’m going with it. and i’m waiting in awkward silence. and then i got a picture. and it made my heart pound.and the picture was me, as a bride..waiting for my groom. waiting for jesus.and i was so beautiful. radiant. and perfectly dressed. and ready. i was ready. i didn’t have to flirt with him. or catch his eye. or get his attention. because i already had.
because he was already there. and committed. anticipating me in full delight. and this image just washed over me. and i sobbed. and it keeps coming back to me. this image just keeps coming back when i find myself anxious about something i’m supposed to be doing. because the Lord usually confirms the things i think i’m hearing from him in scripture, i wasn’t surprised at all when i “happened” to read isaiah 61 the next day. i have experienced this too many times to believe its coincidence.
i will greatly rejoice in the LORD. my soul shall exult in my God.
for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation.
he has covered me with the robe of righteousness. as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
for as the earth brings forth its sprouts, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to sprout up, so the LORD God
will cause righteousness and praise to sprout up before all the nations.
when we moved to ivanhoe, experienced people in the urban core told us not to expect to meet people right away. but to lay low and be students of the neighborhood. observers for the first few years. -which is really wise counsel. but my neighbor and i have become really close anyhow. and we’ve cried together. already. sharing stories and thoughts. and i get angry when i hear her story and what life has been like for her. angry that she has not had the same opportunity as me growing up. angry that she has had to experience such pain and loss at such an early age. angry at the system of things. we’ve grown to love each other. she has brought me dinner. and offered to watch my kids and has cleaned my kitchen one time when i had my hands full.
last sunday i was spending time with Jesus and i kept thinking about her. and i’m literally staring at her name in my journal. not knowing how to pray for her or what to do. and this image washes over me again. and i release myself of all the “right” things to do. and i literally begin praying the name of Jesus over her with open hands and i move on.
a few minute later, i get a text from my friend, Nancy, asking if we wanted to come over to her house for dinner after church that night. she also said i should ask my neighbor if she wants to come.
i laugh because i knew this was Jesus. and because you don’t ask your new neighbor in the urban core to come to your all white church in lenexa. but i ask her anyway. i text her. she immediately calls back.
“girl, you be make’n me do some crazy things. wheres this church?”
i laughed and she came. the next morning she calls me and says.
“i just want you to know that i really enjoyed myself last night. and next sunday, i’m coming to your house church ,or whatever its called, and i’m bringing my daughter because she needs to be on this journey with me. and something else…i really felt like i belonged.”
and i sat back, speechless. because this was just JESUS.
only jesus can do this.
only Jesus can completely defy racial and cultural barriers and my abilities.
its just Jesus.
so i just want to encourage you. wherever you might be.
you are enough.
you are beautifully clothed
and perfectly ready for the life Jesus has for you. because all you need for any single thing in any moment is just Jesus. just Jesus.