“Enlarge my heart for this people.” It’s the kind of prayer-seed the Lord loves to water. And we have to start with seed, don’t we? We must begin with the tight humble seeds pushed into the ground in order to unwrap, to slide roots deep into the hummus and grow tomorrow’s fruit.
Our whisper of a prayer starts as almost all good things do, as a daily choice, worship straight out of the will but it ends in the promise of full flower. It’s a “working out of our salvation (Philippians 2:12).” We turn from the “it’s all about me” disease to being able to say “yes” to what God’s already doing here in this zip code and unhindered, join in. But the prayer is more than just about ministry, it’s about heart transformation.
Six years into our ministry in South Haven, MI, in the midst of the untidiness of motherhood with toddlers with one foot in the parish, I began whispering this prayer. I was a greener-pasture kind of gal, the one who was always surfing the clergy wanted site for a new parish, a new more _______ town, and if I’m being brutally honest, a people to love that were tuned to my needs and looked strikingly more like me. I had a chronic case of discontent. But the Lord was speaking loud out of 1 Corinthians 13: your ministry will always be robbed powerless if you don’t fall in love with my people. Start here.
This prayer started with a kitchen dance party with my young ones and we were on a Toby Mac kick because he was the only one who could make my oldest get out on the dance floor. “City on Her Knees” repeated its lines, “If you gotta start somewhere, why not here? If you gotta start somehow, why not now?” I put the song at the end of a morning mix on the iphone, a decision-making mix where I could pray through music along with the mess of the cheerios and spilt milk.
God answered. The daily whisper became a cry and then the prayer shifted slightly, “Heal my eyes to see this people as You see them.” I began to listen more closely to the stories, to gaze compassionately at a stranger’s face twisted with grief, to appreciate the hard fight of a journey that had won them those wrinkles. I began falling in love with the broken beautiful pieces I was witnessing all around me. That was my first step out of the inward disease of narcissism and into true ministry.
You too? Are you ready to start here…to start now?
Daily Action: Nothing profound…just the beginnings of a whisper prayer, “Teach me to love this people.”
New to the Series? Start here: Falling in Love with Your Zip Code.
Hello, friend, we’re on a journey to thriving right where we’re planted. My family just moved five states south and I’m stumbling through learning to root again, learning to love a new town just like any town, full of the broken beautiful. Come along? Type your email into the “Connect” square on the right hand side of the front page and join me for the pilgrimage. It’ll be nice to have your company along the way.