Posted by: Matt Norton | April 8, 2009

April Newsletter

The last few months here in Louisville have been up and down.  As I said in my last newsletter the Day Shelter has been rough.  The cold weather has brought many more people in, which has caused fights and an abundance of nonsense.  Our guests have also recounted stories of long fearful nights sleeping out in the cold and snow, violence between homeless folks, and the difficulty of meeting needs that you and I take for granted.  The influx of painful, uncomfortable and outrageous situations and circumstances has burdened and overwhelmed me.  I feel insufficient.  I don’t know how to react or what to do.  I see the need for prayer but often am so inundated in need I feel incapacitated. I see my failings and wonder how God can use someone like me. I then feel that it’s easier to do nothing than something with a burden so large.  However, in Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians I am reminded that in my weakness and with my flaws God uses me.  In verse nine God encourages Paul saying, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  I must remember that I am serving a perfect and powerful God and that I am his vessel to use as he may, especially in my weakness.

Time with the residents has also been stressful.  Outside of the Day Shelter we are busy with the residents. I have Bible Studies with three guys.  Kerry and I plan an event every Wednesday for the guys to get them out of the building and engaged with others.  Then we have the drop-in visitors. The relationship we have with the residents is like this. We try to love on the guys and be supportive and available to them.  We want to be good neighbors and we want our love for Christ to overflow into our relationship for the guys.  Although that is fun, it is also time consuming and often calls for tremendous amounts of patience.  It has gotten to the point where the guys are so comfortable with us and enjoy our company (or at least spending time in our apartment) that they come around at all hours of the day and night.  I can recall numerous nights when guys have come around past 11 pm and Kerry and I need to be up at 6 am.  Our time together is positive but exhausting at the same time.  I have had to ask myself how I can be a good friend to the guys without burning out.

In both these communities of which I am a part I have been stretched thin and have been seeking God’s wisdom in how to move forward with both groups.  As I have been thinking and reading through the scriptures, I have honed in on the passages in the gospels where it talks of Jesus going to solitary places to pray.  Those passages show me that even Jesus, God in the flesh, took time alone to pray to his Father.  I fall quite short of being like Jesus, so I have had to ask myself why do I think that I don’t need alone time where I draw away to a solitary place to pray and bask in God’s presence.  Unfortunately, with the increase in need and stress upon me I have drawn farther from God when I know that these times should be filled with just as much or more prayer and supplication.  I have been trying to balance this better, so please pray that I and all of Christ’s followers are able to better balance our lives in order to give God all the glory.

In this time of trial God has been teaching me about celebration.  I have a tendency to get caught up in the daily grind and forget that my life is not my own, but God’s.  I forget that Jesus already defeated death and so as his follower I no longer have to fear death as I know that I will be with my Father in heaven forever.  I often don’t praise God for the good work that he has done in me, saving me from death and giving me life more abundantly. As I have been reminded of all the good and gracious things God has done for me I remember that I need to praise him for them and celebrate.  I need to slow down and bear in mind that I am the servant of the God of the universe.  He is sovereign and any feeble attempts that I make at positively affecting the world for his kingdom without him are just that, feeble and insignificant.  I’m learning that in the midst of great opposition and difficulty sometimes as believers we just need to come together and remember all that God has done for us and give him all the praise.  That reminds me of when Jesus says in Matthew 26:11 to the disciples, after a woman anointed Jesus’ feet with expensive perfume, “The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me.”  He says this to them leading up to his crucifixion to remind them that this earth will never be perfect, there will always be the poor, so we need a balance.  We can’t hold ideas of perfecting this earth; instead we need to be focus on Christ and doing his will while we’re in this broken place.  At times his will is that we stop and celebrate him, marvel in his presence, and see all that he has done for us.  I praise God for all he has done and thank him for the joy I have in serving him.  I pray that all of us who follow Jesus may be obedient, glorify him in all we do and see when he calls us to rest in him and celebrate.

Thank you to all of you who are praying for the Hope team.  We really appreciate it and encourage you to keep it up as we seek energy to move forward.  Here are some specifics.

•    Pray for perseverance for all the staff and volunteers at Jeff Street.
•    Pray that we celebrate even the smallest victories in Christ that we may focus on the myriad blessings we all receive daily.
•    Pray for the new Hope team summer members who will be coming at the end of May.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: