Image credit: Wonders
Jesus and I stood and looked at the city for a couple days. I could tell as he looked upon it, his heart was full of love. I could also tell that he was giving me time to wrap my mind around its existence: that here this city was, and this was where we were going -- together.
As I mentioned in my initial post about this, a particular passage in Matthew immediately came to mind when we stood looking at the city together. It's the passage where Jesus looks out over Jerusalem and becomes overwhelmed with compassion for the people living there because they are like sheep without a shepherd.
In the days following my initial discovery of the city, I turned to that passage in Matthew a lot. It has slowly become a new prayer of mission for me.
Here are some portions of that passage that carry great weight for me in this new place:
Then Jesus made a circuit of all the towns and villages. He taught in their meeting places, reported kingdom news, and healed their diseased bodies, healed their bruised and hurt lives. When he looked out over the crowds, his heart broke. So confused and aimless they were, like sheep with no shepherd. "What a huge harvest!" he said to his disciples. "How few workers! On your knees and pray for harvest hands."
The prayer was no sooner prayed than it was answered. Jesus called twelve of his disciples and sent them into the ripe fields. He gave them power to kick out evil spirits and to tenderly care for the bruised and hurt lives. . . .
Jesus sent his twelve harvest hands out with this charge:
"Don't begin by traveling to some far-off place to convert unbelievers. And don't try to be dramatic by tackling some public enemy. Go to the lost, confused people right here in the neighborhood. Tell them that the kingdom is here. Bring health to the sick. Raise the dead. Touch the untouchables. Kick out the demons . . .
"We are intimately linked in this harvest work. . . . This is a large work I've called you into, but don't be overwhelmed by it. It's best to start small. Give a cool cup of water to someone who is thirsty, for instance. The smallest act of giving or receiving makes you a true apprentice. You won't lose out on a thing."
-- Matthew 9:35-10:42, The Message
The entire context of this passage, from Matthew 9:35-10:42, has become like an instruction manual of sorts for me in this new season. In those beginning days, I looked out upon this city he had brought me to discover, and I knew this was a field ripe with harvest and that I was one of the harvest hands he had prepared to go into that particular field.
And so I sought -- and continue to seek -- my marching orders from this passage.
Just like Jesus, I'm to care for the broken and hurt lives. I'm to offer a cold cup of water to someone who is thirsty. I'm to steer clear of grandiosity. I'm to be an apprentice. I'm to offer the life of Jesus.
In those first days when Jesus and I stood upon that hill, looking down upon the city we were going to approach and enter together, I saw that it was dark and forlorn and desolate and dead to life in so many ways. I knew there were people living inside the walls of that city who went about their life every single day without hope or spark at all. I knew it was a lonely, sad, forsaken place.
But Jesus also permitted me to see what would eventually happen.
From the ground up, ever so slowly, the Holy Spirit would begin to restore that place. It would become, eventually, a gleaming white city. Through the entrance of Jesus into that place and the work of our hands together, the city would be rescued, made well, and restored to pristine perfection.
It would be beautiful, just as it was always meant to be.