I need to be reminded that “the sovereign Lord is my strength” (Habakkuk 3:19).
God has always wanted his people to depend on him.
Yet, life at street level is often difficult. In fact, it can be very difficult.
Years ago, I went to seminary. I studied and worked hard. I took courses in biblical texts, theology, church history, and practical ministry. I wrote research papers. I read and read. This time of study was very important in my own development as a person and minister. Yet, in no way was my education complete.
As I entered a congregation and began my ministry with these people, my street level education began.
These moments included:
Standing in a dusty West Texas cemetery with a young couple who were about to bury their little baby who was stillborn.
Having coffee with a union steward, asking him about how the economic conditions of our area were impacting families of workers who had been laid off.
Sitting in a living room one week after we had moved to a church, only to have a very wealthy man tell me I had just begun working with a church full of losers.
Getting called to an emergency room to sit with a family whose father/husband had just had a serious car accident while drinking.
Watching from a front row seat what happens to a family when the marriage vows are broken. I had no idea the pain of betrayal was that intense.
Listening in my office to two young foster children as they told me the story of the abuse in their previous foster home and how they were moved to a safe home. Finally, these sweet little children were freed from this hell on earth.
Preaching and teaching message after message and realizing just how difficult this could be.
Entering a funeral home, only to hear a father wail as he grieved the death of his daughter, whom he had accidentally run over with his truck.
Witnessing baptisms and seeing the radical change in some peoples’ lives.
I am still learning. Sometimes this learning takes place because of what I read in a book. Sometimes this learning takes place within the congregation, the community of believers that I work with. Quite often, however, this learning takes place on the street where life unfolds and we are reminded again of our desperate need for God.
What has been one of the most important lessons you’ve learned from being an observer of life?