I am lucky to live close to an amazing church. We go to Willow Creek in the Chicagoland area and we have attended at a couple of their different campuses. The caliber of teaching is unmatchable, the band is amazing, they offer ministries for people of all ages and in all stages of life. While all those things are necessary, what keeps me passionate about my church is their outreach to serve and love those who others have forgotten.
For the past couple of years they have done a month long series called "Celebration of Hope," where we focus our time, money, thoughts, prayers, etc on those in need. In past years we have focused on global poverty and for a good month I have my world turned upside down, and my perspective realigned. This year we are focusing on global, as well as local poverty, and again I can feel my heart begin to soften.
When they first talked about giving money towards local poverty, I was a bit put off. In my head there wasn't as much of a need in the Chicagoland area...at least in my head. While many people are not living on less than a dollar a day, the pastor pointed out the people that sleep in their cars in the back of the church parking lot because they have no where to sleep. People are hurting and struggling all around me and I keep one eye closed towards it. I hate the way it makes me feel... that mixture of hopelessness and guilt.
So for the next month I will let my heart be broken by the things that break God's. I will sit in the discomfort and remind myself that I serve a God of hope. I will spend some time eating like those who live on less than a dollar a day eat. I will pack seeds to be able to send to Africa to help families. I will realize and remember how much I am blessed with and try to figure out what God wants me to do with this one and only life.