Don’t Let Him Shake Your Tree.

My husband Sam loves the word addled. Truly, it’s a pretty good word with great synonyms like muzzy, woozy and befuddled.

He doesn’t apply it to me very often, because I’m usually steady. But in preparing to spend all this week serving the urban poor at the LA Dream Center, I was shilly-shallying and futzing around so badly, I thought I might have dementia. I even threw my wallet in the kitchen garbage and walked away with a soggy paper towel in hand. I worried about it to Sam.

“It’s because you’re going to LA to do something you’ve never done and you’re scared,” he said.

He’s right. I’ve never wandered under a bridge to hand out hot food to a homeless person. I’ve never played with neglected kids in a gang-infested urban neighborhood. What am I doing?

I’ll tell you what I’m doing, I’m climbing out on a limb, because that’s where the fruit is, and when you’re a new climber, like me, it’s good to follow the professional climbers. The LA Dream Center, which is the single largest food bank in LA County and serves 40,000 people every month in its 273 ministries, not only climbs to the best fruit, but they pick it and toss it down to everyone else.

The Apostle Paul said, the promises of God all find their yes in Jesus, and I’ve decided there are too many people (Bob Goff, Katie Davis, Matthew Barnett) doing impossible, God-promised things to doubt Jesus’ extravagant yes.

But I don’t want to just pig out on the grace of God until I’m bloated from hoarding it. It’s designed for sharing. Jesus wants me on my feet, darting nimbly through the world as his little cracked-pot, ambassador. As Katie Davis says in her lovely memoir from Uganda, where by age 19 she’d adopted the first six of her 14 orphans, we don’t have to be talented, we just have to be available.

The problem with shouting this manifesto is, the enemy hears it. And when you get halfway out your limb, he starts shaking your tree, hoping you’ll turn back. The devil doesn’t want me learning to serve people like Jesus did, and he sure doesn’t want me telling you how to do it. So he opposes me using the only things he has, anxiety, fear, confusion, rejection etc. The Apostle Paul explains it like this:

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Eph 6:12.

Yes, it’s tempting to bail out when I’m anxious and shaky, and can’t hold a coherent thought or keep my wallet out of the trash, but then I think, “bail out to where?” Jesus blew up all the bridges behind me. The only way left is forward.

And in this case, it goes through LA.

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