It has been two weeks since weather amnesty has opened. I often find my mouth open but with no words adequate to describe what experiences we’ve had. God has shown mercy. He is always ready to show mercy. Whether we receive it into our hearts well or not, God has his hand out for us, waiting for us to grab it. As a volunteer at Project WARM, sometimes we are put between God’s hand and the hand of someone who feels that they could never be worthy of grabbing that hand, who believes it’s not really there for them.
Being that hand is love and love isn’t always easy, but it’s always rewarding. It can hurt as you feel the pain of others. It can mean taking on the despair someone else feels for a time and releasing it to God in prayer daily. If you are available, God wants to use you. He needs someone who cares enough to pray, like you would your own children – because you really don’t know if anyone’s every done that for them. It makes a difference. Love could mean that when you see your dad, you think of someone else’s dad, who’s kids went off the track and got messed up with temptation – and who now can’t fight the depression and voices of failure that ring so loudly that self-punishment seems the only option. Messages of failure abound, but where the enemy screams “Unworthy!” and our minds shout “Failure!”, God says, “Look! Take that person’s hand and let them show you what my mercy feels like.” If you have received mercy, you may remember what it feels like. It feels good. It lifts your head. It lifts your soul.
These first two weeks of Project WARM have been full of helping others to see through different eyes. Frequently, a guest will get impatient with another guest. It’s hard to have no where to go but Project WARM. In these first two weeks, we’ve not only had to extend mercy, but teach mercy, helping one see the other person through the eyes of Jesus, taking them into the hurt that he sees coming out as anger or insensitivity. Hearts have softened. It’s ok to step in and help with the wisdom God has taught us. “Iron sharpens iron.” Sometime we sharpen and sometimes we are sharpened. The body of Christ needs the parts to work together, no matter what our position in life, we have things to learn from those who’ve learned hard lessons. Hope needs to be shared.
What causes us to be homeless? Sometimes Project WARM is a place of refuge when a relationship problem occurs or where one waits to get unemployment cleared. For several we know, WARM is where a lonely man grieves for a spouse who died and meant everything, sometimes for a week, sometimes for years. Already this year, some of our guests know that WARM a place where someone believes you can be “fixed,” as one guest said, so you fight through the distractions the enemy sends to you every day to get in the door so hope can get a hold of you. They aren’t always ready to scream yes right away, just as we aren’t, but they come to get warm and hear words that fight the lies they believe about themselves.
Jesus is hope and that there is not one person who is not worthy of the same mercy we have received. A volunteer has an important role because when we are trapped in lies of unworthiness, we sometimes need to hear over and over, night after night, that God has not given up on us, before we will extend out our hand to receive prayer. When we finally find strength to receive the hand of God in our lives, God is faithful and his displays of help and mercy leave me speechless and in awe. The stories we’ve heard in the first two weeks of answered prayer, emotional freedom and thanks humble us. Often what we share with guests is that God has a purpose for them right now. No matter where they are, jobless or thriving, drunk, high or just bored, God has a use for them today.
If God has changed your heart, if he has shown you mercy and grace, if you know that tomorrow may never come for one of these who are lost in despair, it may be time for you to share the words of Jesus with some of our friends, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”
Merry Christmas season to you all. May the reality of his mercy overflow in your hearts and the power of the truth bring the freedom to your hearts as you serve Him daily.