Note: It has been brought to my attention that this particular post may cause some to believe that we are not happy with our move and even more frightening that I find myself better than my neighbors. To quote Paul, "May it never be."
I am exceedingly blessed to be in this place at this time. We are so much closer to family; we can visit in a day. People are working really hard to change the neighborhood and I am so excited to be a part of that. I've never lived in a place quite like this and I love the feeling of community that being here gives.
And on the second note. I have been so blessed by God who has protected and kept and saved me from sin that oftentimes I can forget that I am a grave sinner daily in need of God's grace and mercy to be poured out on my life. And isn't that an even more insidious sin--pride. It is so easily hidden from others and so easily justified.
A little over a week ago a man died on our street. He got a bad dose of drugs. Something to do with formaldehyde; I don't know if the stuff should have contained formaldehyde and had too much or if formaldehyde was supposed to be there at all. It doesn't matter; a man has died because he was trying to fill the empty spot in his soul with something other than God. (The irony cannot be escaped that at the same time the emptiness is longing for God it is denying His lordship. But that is for another day.)
It highlights one of my great struggles as we find ourselves here, on this street. I become as we take walks, or give our address identified with "those" people. You know, the sinners. From the outside one can't tell that I'm different, that I am a believer, that I don't smoke or drink or hook or take drugs or any of the other assumptions made about the people in this neighborhood.
And so I struggle. And God meets me there as He always does. And His word reminds me of the truth. I am indeed one of "those" people--a sinner. I fall short in so many areas; actually I fall short in every area of my life. I am a saint not because of my lack of sin but because of God's great grace; His determination to see Christ's blood covering me rather than my sin. I can say no to sin not because of my own strength of conviction or mighty will, but because He has made me new, given me His very spirit that I may overcome.
But why must I live here among the sin where I can see it? Why can't we live where sin is covered up with a thin veneer of good behaviour? You know, where people are addicted to pain killers not formaldehyde laced drugs.
And a still small voice speaks into my argument. "Remember Christ." Fully God, quite the definition of holy. He did not grasp at power or comfort, but rather humbled himself to fully identify with man even to the point of a criminal's death.
So, I am not sure of my purpose here, but I am sure that God's design puts us here. And there is hope in knowing that indeed He has a purpose, even if only to reveal my own hidden sin. (Why did I ever pray that!) I am at peace and I have fallen in love with those around me, a love that can only come from God. I am sure the struggle will continue for as long as we are here every time a child is yelled at cruelly by the adults in his or her life, every time the ambulance comes to take a minimally sick person to the emergency room. And I should hope that the struggle does that my spirit will always long for the time when sin will be banished. But I am reminded that my sufferings pale in the light of Christ and that these momentary struggles can not compare to the promises I have in Christ.