i've tried to write several entries lately on the deeper level but have had a hard time following through with those thoughts. it's like there is a level of engagement that i am finding difficult. even as i type this now a sort of haze comes over my mind. i'm not sure why--but i'm wondering if it has anything to do with the neighborhood. i've heard a lot about the spiritual weight of living in this part of the city from people who have moved here, but at first i didn't feel like i felt it. more lately though i have been noticing some things that seem different. but is it really this neighborhood that is the cause?
i'm a little challenged by this idea that this neighborhood is a place of darkness, that there is a spiritual weight of oppression and violence here, that evil is on the loose here. those things may be true to a large extent, but what makes that any different from the suburbs or the country? is there not just as much fear there, only under a different guise? is there not just as much sin there--it's just polished and below the surface. is it not arrogant to assume that just because there is money in a place so it looks nicer that there is less spiritual oppression there? maybe this "weight" of oppression is just simply our own discomfort at the difference and loss of some comforts.
granted that crime is much higher here, and i think yes, the devil is at work here in some visible and outright ways that are frightening and destructive. but so too is there destruction and fear deep in the heart of the suburb or small town, and other evils too.
of course the need down here is great, and that is why we are here. there are lots of reasons why we are down here and not in the suburbs--not that there's anything wrong with that--but i don't want to get into those reasons now.
it's been difficult in this early time, wondering what it is that we are doing here. it is a season of introduction and preparation, but still it is hard not to wonder what it is we are down here to do exactly. or what things are going to look like, how the heck we are going to relate with anyone or what difference we are going to make. that's not to say that i don't have a lot of hopes and dreams for what God could do. and i understand that it is a long and hard road down here. perhaps my fear though is that we would just be white noise down here. a little flash in the pan and/or just some sort of insignificant drop in the bucket.
i want to see true change and transformation take place. not for my sake or our community or any sort of notoriety. but truly to see lives rescued and people made whole and brought to a salvation of the most holistic kind. that this would not be some good experience where i learn a lot, or some personal growth exercise. i want my hope to have real substance--to see the hand of God move and the kingdom break in.
not because i want a big church. not because of any sense of accomplishment or obligation. not to try to bring about my own inner fulfillment or dispel my own doubts or fears.
because i long to see people freed from the death that permeates their lives. i don't know why people voluntarily continue to live there, without asking what they are living for, why they are doing what they are doing, settling for lesser things. missing out on the love they could know. denying the freedom they could find. more than just a better standard of living or a few steps higher on the socio-economic ladder. to be free of the horrible oppression of the american dream and the addictions we create in ourselves to try to amass the stuff or numb ourselves from the pain of the emptiness of its lack. all that and so much more.
may eyes be opened and freedom be found. and may the fight to get there be fought well. may we all start to pick up our swords and charge forward a little more, that we might get closer to those gates which we are supposed to one day overcome.