taking the words of Jesus seriously

I just got back from spending about a month in India with my family.  We had the opportunity to stay with our friend who runs a children’s home, made up of 48 kids.  We were amazed by their faith.  Each child had their own unique story of moving from abandonment and rejection (many orphaned) to this loving home.  The children have been taught from a young age to worship, pray and rely on Jesus.  I cannot tell you how many stories of healings, provisions, etc. we heard while we were there.  The Bible says not to worry about tomorrow and these kids really lived this out!  Our friend informed us that during the 13 years of existence, that they had never asked for donations.   They simply pray and God provides.  One story that stuck out was how they gathered to pray for provision for much needed housing for their older boys.

A couple days after they had been praying for the housing, they received an e-mail from someone asking them to re-send their last e-newsletter.  Come to find out he remembered reading that they needed something huge for the older boys and he started naming them one by one.  He didn’t believe our friend when she told him that an email asking for such a request was never sent……he checked with everyone who knew our friend, asking them if they had gotten the mass e-mail ‘asking for funds’….they told him that as far as they knew, no such email was sent….. he still didn’t believe them…..finally he recognized (after trying to figure out the mystery for over a month) that it was a GOD thing  (I wonder if he happened to see what God’s email was?)……. he ended up sending them $15, 000 which was the exact amount they needed to build the boys house–he didn’t know the amount they needed to complete the project).

The Bible is full of miracles.  India is full of miracles.  I began to wonder if the reason we do not see many miracle’s in America is because we don’t need them.  There is no need for us to worry about tomorrow when our fridges and closets are full, but there is also the temptation that we do not need prayer.  I had a lot of time for self-reflection and reading in India and realized that we are simply too busy!  I had the chance to read; Mother Teresa Come By the Light: The Private Writings of the Saint of Calcutta. I’ve been quoting and reading Mother Teresa for years and have never read anything quite like it.  The book is a collection of her confessions written out to her spiritual director.  The short of the story is that she felt very intimate with Jesus, that is, until she embraced the Call to follow Him among the poor; as well as made a Vow to never say no to anything He asked.  Almost immediately she experienced a dark night of the soul that lasted the remainder of her life.  She longed for a deeper presence of Jesus in her life, and yet there were times she questioned His existence.  Her spiritual director came to the conclusion that it was God’s means of having her identify with the poor, even in their darkness.

I remember being in Calcutta and seeing the sign, “I Thirst” in just about every building we went into that was run by the Missionaries of Charity (started by Mother Teresa).  It wasn’t until reading this book that I realized the significance of this sign.  “I Thirst” represents the suffering of Jesus on the cross just as he was experiencing his own dark night of the soul.  Even in the midst of the darkness and in the busyness of her day, Mother Teresa took time each day to sit at the feet of Jesus, to pray, to worship, to be silent and listen.  In light of all of this I realized that my life was too busy.  I did not even have time to thirst.  Though I loved Jesus a lot, I was so busy serving Him that I did not take the time to sit with Him, and to develop a more intimate relationship with Him.  I need to slow down and thirst.  Thirst for intimacy, thirst to listen, thirst for worship, prayer and justice and most importantly thirst for Jesus.

I was in college when I first experienced the power of worship.  A group of guys used to get together to pray every week and often we would pop in a worship tape (didn’t have cd’s in the olden days).  I remember during one gathering, a couple of us started praying for the guys in the only Fraternity on our small Christian campus.  As a result, two of the guys decided they would join the Fraternity while the others would keep them in prayer and accountable during “Hell Week” (the infamous initiation week).  The guys had a blast doing harmless pranks around the campus and they were quickly accepted into the group.  On the initiation night our friends were asked why they wanted to join the Fraternity.  Now you have to picture this scene… The Frat boys were mostly made up of athletes on scholarship who were more interested in partying than they were about following Jesus.  Our friends simply stated that they came to the Fraternity to bring Jesus.  Everyone paused… they wondered if it was a joke… then realized it wasn’t …but laughed anyway.  They thought they were crazy, so they would fit right in.  They were accepted.  To make a long story short, nothing short of a revival occurred.  The Frat boys started giving their lives to Jesus, the parties turned to prayer meetings.  I remember on one occasion, we had been worshipping and the only frat boy left that had not given his life to Jesus was in attendance.  He came to the worship time to see what was going on with his brothers.  Before you knew it, he started crying, everyone gathered around him and prayed.  When they were done praying he looked surprised.  He then told us that he had full movement of his thumb.  He then went on to tell us that he broke his thumb several years ago and had not had full movement of it since.  That is… until that night!

I know one thing for sure.  We were not hoping for a miracle that night, we simply were seeking to know Jesus better, but in the midst of His presence, a miracle occurred.  Around this same time, we began hanging out on the streets of Philadelphia with homeless folks.  We began to meet Jesus not only on our knees but also on the streets among the homeless.  I will never forget the time of prayer I had with my friends Scott Matney and Shane Claiborne just as I was getting ready to graduate college.  We prayed for revival.  We prayed specifically for a revival that would not be confined to Churches, but one that would take place on the streets.  We prayed for a Justice Revival of sort.  I guess you could say another miracle occurred.  Just a few months later I received a call of a mass student movement on campus to embrace homeless folks (later called the Y.A.C.H.T. Club whose story is detailed in Shane’s book Irresistible Revolution).

We have been in awe these past several years as the justice movement has expanded and folks are taking their faith to the streets.  You do not have to look far to see churches and intentional communities doing their best to love their neighbor.  But I have also noticed that life on the front-line is very busy and the work is never ending.  Now, more than ever, the movement must include not only time on the streets, but time on our knees.  This is not a call to become a prude, but to evaluate the things in your life that make you busy.  Do you have time to thirst for the reality of Jesus or is your idle time filled with Facebook, TV, or even doing good things?  If nothing else, I feel pretty good about the fact that 48 kids in a children’s home in India are praying for us all!  I am looking forward to the coming revival that will take place in the streets and on our knees.

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Chris Lahr is a Recruiter and the Academic Director for Mission Year. He is also a part of the Simple Way in Philadelphia. He is a writer and a speaker. For information about having Chris speak,  email Jen Casselberry.

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