I ran across this article recently while doing some homework for my Biblical Counseling class. I'm more often than not convicted on so many levels while reading through things I believe will be helpful for "others." I'm learning to always include myself as one of the others.
This particular part of the article really hit home with a recent experience of mine.
"I have had the opportunity to go to India several
times. I stood in New Delhi, Northern India, at one of
the most horrible slums that exist. I stood transfixed for
a moment, looking at a three-year-old boy leaning
against the cot of his infirm mother. He had the distended
stomach and hollow eyes of a starving child,
and his face was fly-infested. I stood there with tears
streaming down my face. It wasn’t just compassion. (I
did want to rescue him and take him home.) But it was
the awareness that he didn’t choose to be where he was,
any more than I chose to be where I was. I was filled
with deeper gratitude than I think I have ever felt in my
life. I was raised in one of the richest countries in the
history of humanity. I was raised in a loving family, and
received a tremendous education. I was raised to come
to Christ early in my life. I was given such glorious
things. You could not explain the difference between
that little boy and me by anything other than the Lord.
I was filled with awesome gratitude for the Lord. I
stood there in that slum, and I felt every complaint I
had ever spoken as if they were a weight on my shoulders."
-Paul David Tripp
I really used to hate going to the city. Towards the end of the day I felt so dirty and tired of walking by homeless person after homeless person silently asking for help through cardboard signs. These feelings would literally alter my mood, making it so I want to flee to what I thought was my perfect home and never return to the ugly city again. These last few trips I really, really struggled with it, specifically when I'd have to find a bathroom. I would feel sheer disguist, maybe even hate, for the "dirty, homesless city people that make this bathroom a filthhole for me to have to use." Yes, my heart is that black. I've never told anyone just how much I hate the dirt and dirty people in the city. Too self-righteous to admit it, I guess.
My heart really felt drawn to this particular section of the article because on this last trip in to the city only by God's grace that I was able to look at the public bathroom differently. In the back of the public library I found an out of the way women's restroom. Anyone who has ever been to any public library knows that's where lots of homeless people spend their free time. Walking in I saw what I assumed (and I guess still don't really know for sure) was a homeless lady, dirty suitcase filled with every single one of her earthly personal items in tow. I don't even think I even have any niceness in and of myself that I was able to just smile at her. I quickly got out of her way and ran into the stall. As I pulled out one of those toilet seat covers (because you HAVE to use those, Lexy, who knows what sicknesses these dirty people might give you...I'm so lame...) God totally revealed the depth of the evil in my heart in viewing these "city people" this way.
"I died for these dirty people and this dirty city, just like I died for you."
I knew in that moment that the ONLY difference between me and that lady standing out at the sink was probably the Holy Spirit living inside of me. I felt a deep shame for my sin and a compassion I know that came only from God to want to move toward these people in the city and love them, not run from them.
In reading this article, I felt like Paul Tripp described feeling when looking at the small child in India. I was so grateful for the God who created both me and His people in the city, and so grateful that He has put me in a place where I can serve them from a true heart of love, His love. God showed me He is the God of Salt Lake City, and ever other city, town, neighborhood, home in the world, however dirty or unruly I think them to be. He is their God, if their hearts awknowledge it or not, and He has called us to go in to these places. Only with God's grace will I learn to love these people better, both in my heart and outwardly with my actions.