How many times has fear or an aversion to discomfort kept you from living out God’s will? How many times have you avoided someone or something that made you uncomfortable, choosing instead to do that which was easy and safe?
As you read today’s post by our guest blogger Elizabeth Griffin, consider how God might do for you what He did for her … if you’d but say yes.
Bold and Brave in a Bus Called Love
The smell of urine was unmistakable in the parking lot of Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission. Later I would learn that I had parked where all the men relieve themselves. I stepped over pools of brownish-yellow on my way to the sidewalk, which was strewn with men and women who were drunk and high, waiting to get inside for the night.
After three months as interim press relations manager at the Mission, it was time to do the thing farthest outside of my comfort zone: Search & Rescue. I was there to accompany a French reporter writing a story on homelessness. If not for him, I might never have gone.
Search & Rescue consists of a team of six leaders with five vans that have the word LOVE plastered on their sides. These transport mission leaders and volunteers all over the city every night from 8 p.m. to midnight. They pull off the road under bridges and next to warehouses, announce their presence to the people living in vans, tents, or RVs, and then hand out blankets, socks, sandwiches, and hot cocoa.
The French journalist never showed up, but it was too late to turn back. Even when a fight broke out on the sidewalk, I resisted the urge to hop in my car, take the freeway home, and curl up on the couch with my puppy.
Everyone I work with says going on Search & Rescue is life changing, but I struggled with judging those coming to us for help, and I questioned whether we were making a difference. I wanted to feel compassion, but I didn’t. So I began praying for God’s heart.
Richard, the director of Search & Rescue, gave his testimony and it reminded me that no one is beyond God’s redeeming reach. After living as an addict without a home for years, he went to sleep one night praying to die and woke up surrounded by Christians. They convinced him to come to the Mission for the night. Then he went through its yearlong addiction recovery program, got clean and sober, and started bringing hope to others on the streets.
Then I talked with Jennifer, a woman who had lived on the streets for most of her life. She was wearing jeans and a t-shirt and I couldn’t help shivering for her. I had three layers on and still felt cold. When she told me that all of her underwear and bras had been stolen, I cringed, knowing how vulnerable I would feel in her position. Jennifer was a heroin addict who was taking an anti-opioid drug and was one month clean. Inwardly, I cheered her on.
And finally, I met Tiffany. She was one-day sober, and having a hard time. She told me that she sleeps for days whenever she tries to stop drinking. I looked her in the eyes and began telling her how much God loved her, how He wanted her to be free and have a good life, and that no matter what—even if she slipped and drank again—He would always love her.
Tiffany’s beautiful dark eyes welled up with tears. A believer, she welcomed my prayer for her, and I urged her to call our women’s program. She said she’d think about it.
We embraced, and as she walked back to her tent I knew she was the reason I had come that night. God had me there for her.
Later, several friends said I was brave to go. In some ways, that’s true. I was scared, but did it anyway. But the thing that changed everything was love. I asked for it, and God gave it to me. Once I loved with His love, I knew why I was there. Then I was able to be bold and didn’t need to be quite so brave.
When have you sensed God asking you to do something outside of your comfort zone? Did you obey? If so, what helped you do that? In what ways did God strengthen you as you obeyed? Elizabeth said once she loved with God’s love, she was able to be bold and didn’t need to be quite so brave. What do you think she meant by that? How do you think that is true? Join the discussion on our Facebook page and share your thoughts with us!
God’s love is so far-reaching and incomprehensible. It’s beyond anything our human minds could ever understand, and yet, we catch a glimpse of it best, I believe, when we yield to Him and allow Him to love others through us, as Elizabeth did. We were created to live bold, victorious lives of incredible freedom and impact, but this freedom and courage doesn’t come from us. Instead, it comes from Christ within us.
In Philippians 3:10, Paul says he longs to know “the power of [Christ’s] resurrection.” The power that raised Christ from the dead—that’s a lot of power! And according to Scripture, if we have trusted in Christ for salvation, that power lives in us. Our prayer echoes Paul’s in Ephesians 1:18-20, that “the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which [God] has called you … and his incomparably great power for us who believe.”
When we live fully, wholly loved, there’s nothing to fear, and in Christ, we have everything we need to live bold, brave, and impactful lives! We want to help you do just that! Learn about one of our upcoming conferences and be on the lookout for our new Bold & Brave Conference. If you’re a ministry leader, contact us to book us for your next women’s event.