I have had so many audits/inspections/research interviews going on at work in the last fortnight, that when I woke up this morning, I had one of those ‘What day of the week actually is it?’ moments.
Don’t get me wrong, there are some great things that come out of these kinds of weeks. Hearing the young people’s stories shared. Showcasing great project examples. Talking at length about one of the things you are most passionate about. All of this is great.
But still, different people, different agendas and different requirements have left me feeling a little out-of-sync with the fact it’s already Thursday.
And this morning, as I was preparing for my day, I had some really good time in the Word… That then left me running a little behind schedule. So I got dressed in a hurry. And in the dark.
(I know, I know… my priorities…)
Anyway, the end-and-short of this tale is that I ended up not thinking through the implications of my outfit coordination fully. Because, I love clashing clothes. I really do. But today, even I have to admit that I look like I’m wearing three different patterns of carpet simultaneously.
Yep. Just to clarify, I’m wearing the jeans that Becca tells me are the exact same pattern as the wallpaper in her brother’s flat, a rather Christmas-looking-wooly jumper, and a scarf with peacocks on it.
It’s almost so bad, it’s good.
And it’s a good job that I’m relatively confident in my appearance because I’m pulling in some pretty comic ridicule because of it today 😉
My young people have long found my quirky dress sense a source of great banter. I have the affectionately labelled ‘Poo Shoes’ (they’re a pretty unique colour of brown), was once told that I was embarrassing to be seen with because I looked like ‘Sailor Pete’, and am sometimes asked if I got dressed in the dark (which to be fair to me… Today, I did…)
And because these comments are normally pretty fair, and because I give just as good as I get, I don’t mind.
Because for me, whatever can be used as a tool to build a genuine relationship with a young person who needs it, is a definite win. And trust has to start somewhere. Even in the clashing-clothes-conversations.
Right now, my heart is breaking over some of the painful situations I am seeing some of the young people I work with battle through and against. Specifics that I can’t and wouldn’t mention, but realities that can’t help but move you. Deeply.
And I’ve been thinking today, in all these conversations about my clothes, and in the following conversations about the things that really matter, about the connection between prayer and my work. Because I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I really don’t believe we can or should ever separate the two. Mission, evangelism, being-the-hands-and-feet-of-Jesus, all these things are the overflow and interwoven partners of prayer. Totally connected. Totally one.
I think it’s easy for the stories of broken and hurting young people to fall unheard in the unseen places where the needy dwell, too often forgotten. Too often forgotten, I have to remember, by all but Jesus, who sits with the outcasts, and eats with the disregarded, and befrieds the ignored and who asks us to do the same.
He asks us to pray deep and powerful prayers. And to act out of a deep and powerful love. And know that when we look into the eyes of the hurting or the needy or the broken, it is His eyes that we should see staring back at us. Didn’t He say, ‘Whatever you do for the least of these, you did for me?’
So often when I work with a young person, I feel powerless. And over these past years I’ve begun to see that it’s no bad thing. Because at the end of myself, I am forced to pray and act in a way that is motivated and moved forward only by my faith in God. I realise that I am not anyone’s ‘saviour’, I have no power to ‘fix’ anything… I am just a vessel, called to love and give and cry and pray. And pray. And pray.
And to know, that this movement of prayer that we are invited into by our beautiful God, is the thing that releases us to be His hands and feet in the world.
Hosanna Wong has this amazingly challenging poem called ‘Beautiful Feet’, which articulates some of these thoughts better than I could. Here are the closing words from this piece.
…How many people have you led to Christ this year? It’s hard to hear, too hard perhaps. No one likes to be told to get up when their feet are kicked up and they want to relax. But nobody gets beautiful feet that way. Laziness is no tactic in order to see souls saved. And day after day while we’re focusing on ourselves, our lives, our agendas; there’s a world outside of us begging for Jesus. And they’re waiting to hear us but they are oblivious until we can step out and look beyond us. Somewhere along the way, we’ve let the enemy convince us that faith is enough just to have stored up inside of us, not hurting anyone. And complacency has blinded us to the world of wimps that we’ve become. Asking God why He doesn’t use us like He used the early church. Blaming God: ‘We don’t have the same gifts that the people in the Bible did once’. Ignoring that we can’t even let go of our own junk, to be empty enough for God to fill us. We want His power just to be an accessory on top of all our other stuff. Saying, ‘But it’s too hard to tell people about God, and still have a life’, as if Christ didn’t call us to be a living sacrifice. And it’s obvious by our priorities that we’ve made this earth our home, forgetting that heaven is real, and sooner than we know, we will be there. But who will we bring with us? How beautiful are our feet? Because the world needs Jesus.
Ok. So that’s all very raw and very real, but I also have to remind myself of this all the time in everyway I can. And I make it as simple as possible.
In all this challenge, I want to share the most basic thing I do to keep me praying constantly for the people I work with… Constantly. Because so often I get asked about how to sustain a prayer life, and we can make it sound so complicated and unattainably spiritual sometimes.
So, try this for size 😉
I have about 12 passwords at work for different things. They have to be different for every system. Every programme. They have to change every two weeks.
And I make my passwords triggers for prayer. Simple phrases. Names I want to remember. Places that are on my heart.
And then everytime I log onto my system, or restart my computer, or before any funding/compliance documents, I have my mind, and my spirit reminded and prepared to pray.
Which is so incredibly simple. But so incredibly powerful.
Because the world really does need Jesus.