Posted by: Matt Norton | May 4, 2009

May Newsletter

May 2009

In the Day Shelter one weekday morning we had a situation where I accidentally skipped over a woman’s name in line to do laundry.  I apologized to her and told her that it’d be another 30 minutes.  She was indignant. (rightfully so) She stood at the counter for 10 minutes complaining about the injustice and how she is always treated unfairly.  I listened to her harsh comments and as lovingly and sincerely as I could I again apologized to her, as it was my mistake.  As she quieted down, yet was still very hot I apologized a final time.  It was then that she made the comment, “Don’t worry about it I’ve had to get over much bigger problems than this” and walked away.
Her comment stuck with me.  She is an older woman, probably in her 60’s. She and I generally get along great.  She is someone I look forward to seeing and over time we have gotten to know each other pretty well.  In our talks it seems to me that she has had much pain to deal with in her life.  However it seems that the way she has dealt with it has led to bitterness and anger.  Her comment that day about the laundry makes me think that when confronted with problems in her life, she has often resorted to “getting over them”.
As soon as she made her comment my heart went out for her.  I can imagine the pain that she has harbored inside for years.   We see such pain and brokenness everywhere in the world and in ourselves every day.  If we focus on that pain we can fall into despair.  I avoid despair by going to scripture to see that God does not call us to get over our interpersonal issues; he calls us to reconciliation.  I look to Christ and see that even though I am “the worst of sinners” (1 Tim 1:16) he, the faultless one, died on the cross and rose again to new life, reconciling me to God the Father.  If I can be reconciled to the perfect and holy God of the universe it would be insane for me to say that I cannot be reconciled to my fellow sinners. (2 Cor 5:18-21)
Reconciliation to God and others sounds nice and pleasant when the Bible speaks of it, but as we know it is intensely difficult and often seems impossible.  This year God has been teaching me so much about Christian community especially in the area of reconciliation.  I am learning that reconciliation is not impossible but actually very encouraging and beneficial when done with humility, listening, and grace.
Lindsey, my teammate, and I had been growing distant over the last few months and we both noticed it but did not acknowledge it.  Finally, Lindsey made a comment to me and said that she would like to talk about why I seemed so aloof.  We went for a walk one day and talked it out.  Since there was no one incident that caused our talk we decided just to share what was bothering us about the other.  We asked probing questions, exposing our sinful hearts in the matter and then talked about how to resolve any issues that we saw.  The experience revealed to me much of my self-righteousness.  I also saw how inconsiderate I was toward Lindsey and how I was not seeking unity with a sister in Christ.  Lindsey showed me tremendous amounts of grace, as Christ daily shows us all.  I pray that God continues to grow me in reconciliation and “unity among [believers] as [we] follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth [we] may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 15:5,6)
I praise God for patiently teaching a stubborn young punk about reconciliation.  It is amazing that God loves me enough not to let me just get over problems, but shows me how to reconcile, when I am confronted with such problems.  God has given me many great examples this year of godly men and women who humble themselves and seek God’s will in all situations; men and women who seek God’s glory instead of their own comfort and self-glorification.  I praise God as he allows me to see and experience what it means to “live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.  Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” (Eph 4:1-3)
Much thanks to all of you who read my newsletters, support me financially, encourage me and pray for me.  I want to extend a special thank you to those of you who sent me letters, notes, or called me this past month after reading my newsletter.  You really encouraged me and focused me back on God’s plan for this ministry.  Your example reminds me of Paul talking to the church in Thessalonica when he says, “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11)  Let us continue to encourage and build each other up.
Prayer Requests
•    The summer team will be moving in May 26th, so please pray that God prepares their hearts to serve the homeless and also that Kerry, Lindsey and I may be good role models for them.
•    Please pray for endurance for the Staff and volunteers here at Jeff Street and the constant reminder that our lives are gifts from God, meant to be in humble service to him.
•    Pray for John Ferguson, the new Executive Director, as he and his family are still seeking to sell their house and then find a home in Louisville.

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Responses

  1. Hey brother,

    you may be a wretched sinner (pot calling the kettle black!!!), but you’re also a very mature Christian and an encouragement to many of us here in Louisville. I’m praying for you guys and thanking God for you as well. Be strong and courageous!

    In Christ,
    Steve


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