Find Your Way Home

fywh-cover God has been, as I asked Him to do, breaking my heart for what breaks His. What moves Him to show love, grace and compassion to me and the rest of the world… how can I do the same?

How can I live as Jesus lived? When I see pain and suffering that I do what I can to reach out and share the abundant love and compassion God has given to me?

Put together as a short devotional book, “Finding your Way Home: Words from the Street, Wisdom from the Heart” broke my heart and then inspired me. The women (over 100 contributors) who are current residents, graduates, staff and volunteers of Nashville’s Magdalene house put their collected experiences into a little book that left me smiling and weeping. It won’t take you long to read it, but it will take days to process their moving stories of life on the edge.

The most powerful statement to me came in chapter 3 “Cry with your Creator.”  The woman writes of being sick, skinny, and filthy.

“I will never forget just standing at the edge of Dickerson Road with tears streaming down my face.  Someone please help me.”

I read it and cried.  I could not stop crying.  I tear up every time I think about it. How many people drove by and didn’t notice her?  How many people are begging on the inside for someone to see them? To be kind to them? It was personally convicting in that I would be one of those people – so busy, so distracted that I would not look around to see who was hurting and how I could provide comfort.

Matthew 10:42 states “And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward.” (NIV) That would include the bag of chips and soda that brought one woman to Magdalene (ch. 12 – Show Hospitality to All.)

The Thistle is the symbol of both the community and the farm that makes body care products. Why the thistle?

“Thistles grow on the streets and alleys where the women of Magdalene walked. Considered a weed, they have a deep root that can shoot through concrete and survive drought. And in spite of their prickly appearance their royal and soft purple center makes the thistle a mysterious and gorgeous flower. Being a Thistle Farmer means the world is our farm, and that we choose to love the parts of creation that others have forgotten and condemned.”

I love that there are ministries (within churches and para-church) that are reaching out to those that are largely forgotten. Examples include Hookers for Jesus and in Nashville, Emmaus Church does outreach to strippers, the gay community and the homeless saying ‘God loves you as you are.’

What I take away from this book:

  1. God loves everyone more than we know.
  2. There are people out there who will love you like He does.
  3. I need to learn and continually practice how to love like He does.
  4. Small kindnesses matter.

Each chapter paints a picture of love and grace. It shows the long process of healing. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t. But the love remains.

Just a quick editorial note: I was asked to write a review and received a copy of the book. Also, the book should not put off anyone who does not believe in God. While we can argue about eternity later, I believe we can all agree that the world is in dire need of more love, compassion, and grace. The source of that is your choice.

See also: Born into Brothels, The Pussycat Preacher (both documentaries are available to rent on Netflix)

“You can’t save them all…”

WorldNetDaily linked to a story that is an update about one of the young stars from one of my favorite documentaries ever, Born into Brothels.

A full update from early 2008  on the kids may be found here.

Avijit, who is why I adore the film, is attending NYU.  Others are married.  A couple of others are still in school.  When Avijit said “there is no hope to be found here” (paraphrase), I cried.  It breaks my heart that he felt that way.  I sat there, convicted… having been given means and an opportunity and did nothing.  I did buy two prints that went into the charity they established.  My full thoughts from April 2004 may be found on my old blog.

The Times of India caught up with Puja.  She was given a chance to study in the US and her mother refused to let her leave.  I know they arranged for schooling in India.

Now Puja has entered the sex trade… like her mother.  She’s financially well-off.  Pays for her apartment, her mother’s and another room to meet clients.

My heart breaks for this young woman.  I read her story and cried.  I couldn’t stop crying.  To have help presented to you, to reject it for whatever reason, and enter a life that may appear glamorous but is really a prison… that is full of risk of disease and death.

Then it hit me…

Our Heavenly Father’s heart must break in ways similar every time we reject Him.  He offers us love, grace, forgiveness, peace, kindness… and in our pride, we turn on our heels and move away from Him.

If I only…

Matthew 9:18-22

18While he was saying this, a ruler came and knelt before him and said, “My daughter has just died. But come and put your hand on her, and she will live.” 19Jesus got up and went with him, and so did his disciples.

20Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak. 21She said to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.”

22Jesus turned and saw her. “Take heart, daughter,” he said, “your faith has healed you.” And the woman was healed from that moment.

This is probably one of the most moving portions of Scripture to me, personally.  Definitely top 5.  This and the woman who washed Jesus’ feet with her tears.  I nearly sob almost every time I read them because I see myself in these women.

This woman, though… since blood made one ritually unclean, she was ostracized from her community.  No one would touch her because then they would be unclean.  For 12 years.

No hugs.  Likely few meals with family.  She would not have been allowed in the temple to worship.  Cut off from most of society.  The loneliness she felt must have been horrible.  It is almost incomprehensible to me.

Then she hears about this Jesus.  She heard about his miracles.  His teaching.  His healing.   She likely knew the prophecy of Isaiah 53:5 which says “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.”

Perhaps Jesus was wearing his prayer shawl, which has stripes on the bottom.  With great determination, she fought her way through the crowd, thinking over and over ‘If I can get to his cloak, his shawl… I will be healed.  I believe he can and will do this.’

I Peter 2:24 repeats the same promise but with the past tense.  Since by that writing, Jesus had already ascended to heaven, the work was done.  It is finished.  Our healing came through Him.  The stripes of the Roman lash on his back brought and bought our healing, our forgiveness.

“By his wounds, we are healed.”

But how do we cut off people the same way for different stuff?  For the junk in their past, we keep them at arms length.  Associating with them might make us ‘dirty.’

I want to learn from Jesus’ example and go where He went – to the people who were unloved, left behind, and shunned for whatever reason… health, social, behavioral, economically and love them as He has loved me.

And that means love pretty much everyone because we’ve all been there.