Monday, February 6, 2012

A Lost Cause.

While speaking at a local church a week ago, I had the honor of ministering with some close friends of mine.  The couple, who share not only the same passion for advocacy regarding foster children, but also a deep love for the Lord, shared their testimony of foster care and the story of the three sweet girls that as of now, round out their God-ordained family.  Then they picked up their microphones and began to sing the sweetest song. 

The whole of the lyric touched my heart, but there were a particular couple of lines in the song that took hold of my soul.  Even a full eight days later, I can’t seem to shake the Holy Spirit chills as these words – like a Sword –pierced my heart:

You love every lost cause.
You reach for the outcast.

Truly, if there was an anthem for the Redeemed, it would sound something like this song, and in the context of our gathering last Sunday, it took on a special significance.  That’s why we were in that sanctuary: to do what Jesus does best – standing up for the lost cause, for the outcast, for the little ones who have been, at best, abandoned and forgotten by this world, and at worst, used and mistreated by it.  Captivated by the challenge, I shared our story as if it had been the first time.  All the while, I was asking Jesus to intercede to the Father for these ones overlooked and discarded…
Give us even one that will stand up with us this time, Lord!  Bring forward even one who will be a voice for the voiceless.

Fast forward through the week – those words continually bringing fresh challenge through the Spirit, beckoning me to a deeper commitment to those seemingly lost causes, asking me what I am willing to give that they might be found.  His commands are not burdensome but they ask me to journey one pace further than I feel prepared to go.  To descend a few cubits past familiarity.  To climb one meter higher than my courage does. 

It is the same with this high call to love the forgotten, the grieving, the poor, the wretched, the thieving, the lusting, the broken.  God asks for more than I can give precisely because He wants to remind me of my own need.  God asks me to open my table and my heart and my pocketbook and my life in order so that there is plenty of margin for the marginalized.  That’s one of my favorite things about Him. 

He does love a lost cause, that Jesus.  I want to be like that so much.

A few nights ago at a McDonald’s in another city, my daughter and I were sitting in the booth next to another family.  It was clear that these sweet people and their beautiful children didn’t have two dimes to rub together.  The kids’ clothes were dirty and ill-fitting.  The little girl was dressed in a tank top and the small boy had on a jersey that was at least one size too small.  They were both adorable; the boy kept turning around and smiling at us.  His face was streaked with dirt and ice cream. 
I had such compassion for him in my heart as I looked at his outfit, recalling three children who were dropped on my doorstep one day.  All of their clothes were in trash bags.  I could count on one hand the number of items that fit them correctly.  My tiny princess occupying the booth with me once had really no clothing to her name, much like the boy behind her, who was so charming that I just wanted to scoop him up.

My little girl, on the other hand, did not have the same reaction.  AT ALL.    

“Ewww,” she said, somewhat softly as she turned from the boy’s attempts to befriend her.  I chastised her as quietly as I could while still conveying with my tone of voice that this type of rejection was categorically unacceptable and disrespectful.  She has met many people, adults and children alike, who did not have the resources to make even the most basic hygiene a priority.  I tried to figure out why this little boy in particular bothered her enough to voice her disdain to me.  The boy, thankfully, didn’t hear her hateful tone and continued on his mission to be her friend. 
I chatted with his mommy for a moment.  I could tell she was trying her best, and I told her how precious he and his sister were.  She grinned and told me their names. 
“He’s three,” she said.
The same age my little girl was when she came to be in our family. 
I couldn’t help but notice his troubles at communicating clearly.  He was not developmentally appropriate in his speech.  Was that what was making her uncomfortable?  
My mind flipped back a few pages in time and my eyes darted back over to my little one who also struggled to speak and would merely point and grunt at what she wanted when she came to us.  She is so far removed from that point in her life that I doubt she even remembers any of the difficulties we had working with her on speech. 
Slowly I coaxed her to talk with him.  She gazed at me warily, unsure of my instruction and its purpose.  “He wants to be your friend, sweetie!”  She looked over her shoulder at the boy and looked back at me, eyes full of questions as to my purpose for desiring her to buddy up.    

She had forgotten that her life used to be just like his.  When I met her, there was really no difference between them.  Dirty face, ill-fitting clothes, and delayed speech are just a few of the things that they had in common.

I never want to forget who I was before Jesus came into my life.  He reminded me of that as I watched the interaction of these two children, who were utterly oblivious to the Divine Object Lesson I was receiving during their exchange. 

The Body of Christ should be motivated toward evangelism because we look into the faces of the lost people inside of our sphere of influence and see who we used to be.  I remember how hopeless and dark it felt without Him.  I remember before I came to Christ how painful it was; I was clamoring for approval and answers and applause and only seemed to find rejection and more questions and silence.  I felt dead inside.  I was dead inside.  I was broken in pieces, desperate for truth and love.  It was a devastating time in my life – one I never want to relive. 

God is asking us to cast off our judgment-colored glasses and our pursed lips and put on compassion, kindness, humility, and LOVE….

and remember how it cut deep, that divide between man and his Creator.  Remember how we would never want to go back to that life before Him.   

Now that you have lived even one day with Him, could you bear one without?  Never again.

Let that be the reason that His Bride runs the rescue mission a yard from Hell.  Let our past be the reason we cry out so ardently for their future to be secured in Him.  Let the memory of our era B.C. (Before Christ) be the kerosene on the Holy Spirit flame inside of us that provokes us to carry men to the Light.  Because that same darkness that once pervaded our very souls also has them in its grasp. 

As Heather finally made up with that little boy in the booth next to us, my Father humbled me as we reminisced about my existence before I was adopted into His family.

 I remembered who I used to be: a broken, painfully awkward, miserable, lonely, defeated child with dirt on my heart and nothing in my hands.   
 I was that lost cause.  I was that outcast.

I am so glad Jesus befriended me.  The least I can do to reveal a grateful heart is share my life with those who are far from Him and mirror His love and His grace to those who are where I used to be.  He affectionately invites us to take a chance on the spiritual dark horses. 

He taught by example.  He loved you and me while we were His enemies.
He loves the lost cause.
He loves the outcast.

Do we?


Anonymous said...

Please... What song were these lyrics in? A google search for " he loves every lost cause" led me here, but I truly hope this is the song I have set out to find. P.s. I read your story above and even though I'm skeptical of the whole God thing... It still warmed my heart a little.

Lauren said...

Dear friend,
Thank you for the grace of stopping by and reading this story. The song is called "Jesus Friend of Sinners" by Casting Crowns.

He is truly a friend--the best friend I've had. He's not far-off with his thumb on people as some may think, and He desires to walk through this life with you. I know if you give Him a chance and get to know Him, He won't let you down. I am praying for you right now:
Father, may You show my friend here the same love, compassion and relationship through Jesus that you have shown me. Let my friend know that you care about the things that matter to this person. I pray that this is the beginning of a lifetime with you, Lord! Amen

Bless you...if you have questions please email me with the email found under the "contact link"

Many thanks for your honesty!!

Anonymous said...