This weekend we visited my family and then our home church during a quick overnight stay back in the Seattle area. While worshiping with our dear family at First EPC we sang one of my favorite songs: "On Jordan's Stormy Banks I Stand." (If you don't know the song, click here to hear the Jars of Clay version, it's worth your time).
The first time I ever sang the hymn was actually right here on a visit to the Rez; in the Granberry's living room before we were even officially on staff. My response to the words now are wrapped up in memories and experiences and I was struck by their importance this Sunday.
No chilling winds, nor poisonous breath can reach that healthful shore
Sickness, sorrow, pain, and death are felt and feared no more
I am bound
I am bound
I am bound for the Promised Land
When shall I reach that happy place and be forever blessed?
When shall I see my Father's face and in His bosom rest?
Faces ran through my mind as I sang, tears making tracks down my cheeks. Can I find words to describe the sense of urgency to grab all the hands I can and pull them in a run toward the Promised Land? I don't want to just be bound for the Promised Land - I want my loved ones to come too. What about the children that I love? My own, yes, do they know and believe that one day all things will be made new? What about the neglected little girl who has stolen my heart clean away out of my chest, only three years old but one day she will be grown and will she come with me, with us all, on our way? What about the orphan boy who makes my arms ache to hold him - will he come too? Oh God please let them come along with us to the Promised Land; be their God and let them know that there will one day be none of these sorrows that burden them, no more of the pains that are inflicted on them by others and their own selves?
There is a place where this sin-sickness can't reach and we are running home like refugees for the healing of our mutilated souls.
Listen to this hymn through the link above. Sing along. If your heart isn't aching for others to come along on the journey - maybe you aren't quite close enough to the weak and the poor who need to know the healing grace of God? - then be challenged. Grow deep in community with those who are suffering. The refugee family who live in the apartment complex down the road needing love and friendship. The elementary school serving the families on "the wrong side of town." The women's shelter that needs someone to come wash sheets, wash dishes, or sit in relationship with the women. The Indian Reservation, the nursing home. Give to those who have followed God's call to live and love in communities who need Him. Click through here to follow the link to Sacred Road to learn what work God is doing here around us, learn and pray and go and give.
These are places I will guarantee you will find an entrance into the deep places of human need and relationship, and if you know Jesus, you have the only hope worth holding out to these precious Image-Bearers. There is great beauty in the brokenness you will find as you run toward the promised land catching the hands of all around you and pulling them along with you in joy and hope.