God Moves In




Once upon a time, the street was lined with newly constructed homes, manicured lawns and beautiful perennials that came back every year. There were neighbors that greeted each other as they walked from their cars and up the steps into their homes. Their vehicles and front doors always remained unlocked. The street echoed the sound of children playing and laughter as daylight receded and drew to a close.


But that was some time ago. And now, those houses have chipped paint and tattered flags. Today the windows frame tattered curtains, and the roofs have Christmas lights that are falling off well into the spring. The flowerbeds are overgrown and littered with debris, and the leaves from fall still gather on the steps, even though it is summer. Now the laughter has grown silent, and the children have turned into adults with gaunt faces and eyes that lack hope.


This is what it looks like when people have given up hope. I think this to myself as my daughter pushes her doll in a stroller down the cracked sidewalk on this street of broken dreams.


I wanted to give up too, by this point. This wasn’t what I signed up for when I scribed my signature on the lease, unpacked boxes and hung pictures on my walls. I didn’t know when I moved in that addiction owned the street. It only became apparent when all signs of life only appeared after dark, and when I found used needles on my front lawn in the morning.


Here’s the thing that I realized as I looked out my bedroom window one day. I saw my neighbor sink onto the concrete step and drop his head into his hands. A flicker of compassion began to invade my feelings of being inconvenienced by living here.


I may want to move out, but God does not.

God moves in.

I may grow weary and annoyed, but God is compassionate.


In Matthew 9:36, it says this of Jesus the Christ, “When He saw the crowds, He had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”

All of eternity is laid bare before Him, including the stories of the people who live behind the doors in my neighborhood that stay closed during daylight hours. He knows all the events that happened along the way in their lives. The triggers that caused them to pick up the bottle or the needle for the first time. The reason for their despair and sad eyes. He knows all the memories that harass and leave them helpless, like a sheep that is lost and wandering in open pasture with no sense of direction.

It was on this street, where it seems that broken dreams have come to die and have been buried, that I saw him. That day as I walked with my daughter down that street. He was on his knees in his front yard digging his hands into the soil, weeding his flowerbed and planting new flowers. Like a picture of God himself.


Right in the middle of this street where no one else looks up to make eye contact. Where no one picks up what has been dropped. Where no one cares to plant flowers anymore or even tries to change the landscape of what it has become.

This man had not lost his ability to care. He didn’t ask himself, what’s the point? Instead, he drove his truck to the local garden center and loaded the bed down with peonies and thought to himself, I think I will plant some beauty here. He believed the neighborhood was still worth investing in.


Maybe others will do the same. Maybe this man is starting something that will spark hope on this street where all seems hopeless.

As we head towards the season of spring, where the earth begins to bud with signs of new life and the sun begins to shine a little more, I am reminded that God also brings new life, shining the light of love. When I want to move out of situations that have challenging circumstances, God moves in. John 1:14 in the MSG translation says, "The Word became flesh and moved into the neighborhood."


God desires to bring resurrection and new life to EVERY broken place. EVERY broken person.


FOR FURTHER THOUGHT

Sometimes life is really hard, isn't it? Especially when we endure long seasons of difficult circumstances and it's hard to trace God's hand responding to our prayers. My husband recently reminded me that "no prayer goes unanswered." I need that reminder at times.


It's important to remember that when God "moves into the neighborhood" of my situation, things begin to change, and usually for the better. Just like the evidence of spring approaching, it is hard to grasp new life during the harsh winter months. Yet, hope is still there beneath the ground and waiting to bloom again. And God's presence is always there, waiting for us to realize it and take ahold.


PRAYER

Father, please breathe your resurrection life and hope into the most difficult places of my life today. When I walk in desolate areas or through despairing situations, may I be reminded that you have not abandoned me and are still ever-present, planting hope and resurrecting places in my heart and life. Amen.



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