I was talking with a friend last night about how this has been *quote* one of those weeks.
Do you ever have those weeks?
It's not that they're bad. Because they're really not. Not all of the time anyway.
It's just that they're raw.
They feel…. raw.
They involve striving, and praying in earnestness, and sometimes feeling the tension and weight of spiritual warfare. They normally involve hearing from God or knowing that there's something that God is wanting to speak to you about if you could only stop from the noise of everday life to just pause and listen.
But stopping that relentless flow of noise and motion is hard.
It's these kind of weeks that remind me of the reality.
That the battle is won on our knees.
And oh boy, do I need to pray more.
Oh boy, do I need to pause more.
Oh boy, do I need to listen more.
So let me explain something of what this has looked like for me…
Last Saturday, I happily and unwittingly composed a blog post on taking risks for God.
It was one of those kind of ironic pieces that I wrote from a very comfortable place of not really having had to take any particularly scary-and-out-there steps for God in a couple of weeks, and I really should have known that it would preempt some level of challenge to me personally. However, in beautiful blissful ignorance I pressed 'publish' and that was that.
But it turns out you can't go around typing comments like 'Only Jesus makes a heart brave' and not get called up on it.
My particularly being called-up-on-it happened approximately 6 and a half minutes after I pressed 'go' on my blog in Starbucks.
I was walking home. And I was praying. For people. For situations. For many, many things.
When I had this sudden burden to pray for someone I'd only met once before. It was this super strong burden with this super strong image, and the detail of that doesn't really matter…. But it left me a choked up mess in the best possible way, and I became filled with hope for them.
Which is weird… When you don't really know them.
And it left me with this choice.
To share, or not to share.
You know? Like do you email someone you barely know and say, 'Hi, I know I sound like a total weirdo, but I'm a Christian and I believe God speaks and….'? Or do you… I don't know… NOT do that?
So being the truly self-sacrificial, obedient and quick-to-respond Christian that I am, I prayed the oh-so-eloquent prayer of Moses…. 'So Lord… Could You… Please send someone else for this one…'
Over the next two days I pulled every spiritual-procrastination-excuse in the book.
I got a few other people to pray.
I spent a whole Sunday being busy doing 'Christian things' at church.
I drafted an email so I could 'pray through the wording….'
Eventually in the space of an hour, one friend sent me a message with some verses from Jeremiah 1 and another unrelated friend sent me a message about being brave.
I got the hint.
On Monday morning I pressed send.
Such are the things God seemingly sometimes asks us to do for Him…
My week carried on. A steady combination of needing to stand with friends in prayer and feeling the realities of the battle that takes place when God is speaking.
And so I hit Thursday evening.
I'd been invited to spend the evening at Hokudai and meet two young men who were sharing their experiences of homelessness in Sapporo.
Both had been homeless for seasons last year. Both were now living in some temporary type accommodation.
And their stories hit me super hard.
They were heartbreaking.
I've worked with broken young people full time for over a decade now, but I pray I will never get hardened to hearing the journey of a young person.
One of these young men had experienced both of his parents committing suicide, run away from countless children's homes and then ended up on the streets.
Another told a story of mental health issues that stemmed back into his childhood.
One had lived in a public toilet when he had no where else to go.
Both shared feelings of hopelessness and of wanting to die that they still carried with them today.
It hit me when one of the young men described his current daily life simply as 'too busy and bitter.'
I walked home on Thursday night overwhelmed with a renewed vision of the reasons God had asked me to come to Japan in the first place and a great determination with which to approach Japanese study.
And to pray.
Because I have no power within myself to heal anyone, but I know a God who can restore all hope and bring joy and purpose to any heart.
So these last two days I have continued to wrestle in prayer.
To hear God.
To bring names and faces before His throne.
And to love people. I deeply, deeply love these people.
I don't know what this will all look like or feel like, but I know my heart burns.
The things that God asks and calls and equips us for.
The things God asks…
Breathtakingly full of healing.
But never returning void.
That's His promise.
So please keep standing with me in prayer.
Please keep praying for Sapporo.
And let's believe, even when we don't see clearly…
Love you all!
(Oh, and on a personal note, I have some decisions to make about housing and apartments and all that jazz to make in the next couple of weeks so please join me in prayer for that! All good options… But I'd value your prayers nonetheless!)