I’m sitting on the floor of a hotel room, looking out my window. As cars cross the bridge, red lights turn green, and the silhouette of a woman dances on the building in front of me, I feel small. Jesus… Where are you?
I have been blessed with so many opportunities to travel over the last two years. It’s truly a blessing and a true work in my soul considering 1) the first time I stepped on an airplane was in high school and 2) growing up I dreaded leaving the comfort of my home. I’ve now flown up north, down south, and overseas (each multiple times) in the last two years. Instead of dreading leaving my home, each new trip has become a mission. Every trip I will encounter people that I will never see again. Why not be bold toward starting conversations with strangers?
So, here I am… sitting on a floor and overwhelmed by a city. The things I have seen in the last day and a half have made life at home seem fake. I know that may be an odd statement, so let me explain. Every city and culture I have been to has a different degree of acceptable sin. Not that one is more sinful than the other (it could be argued that some may be), but each city has a level of sin that is acceptable in the public arena. For example, Miami has this woman dancing on a building. This is perfectly acceptable here. The level of sin (to make sure I’m clear, I’m not referring to the severity of the sin itself, but it’s acceptance in the public arena) is so much higher than the woman dancing on the building that she is just an afterthought as everyone goes about their lives. At home, no one would dare (or even be allowed to) have a dancing woman on their building. So is Miami more sinful than home? I’d argue it’s not. At home, everyone just keeps their sin at home and to themselves. The level of tolerance for sin in the public arena at home is very low. Everyone is a good person and everyone accepts that. We assume everyone is a believer. We have no urgent concern for others’ salvation. When someone is rude or abusive or “sinful” publicly, it’s like the axis of society has tilted and everyone knows it. It takes us acknowledging how horrible that person is and how saintly we are for that axis to return to zero.
But here… in Miami. Sin is public. Sin is welcomed… accepted… encouraged.
I think about my Christian friends, my Christian church, my Christian home, my Christian life. It’s wonderful, joyful, and truly a blessing. Jesus is there and He can be seen working in and among us.
But right now… I look out my window at a city that is broken. How can it ever be fixed? Jesus… Where are you? I need you to come fix this place. I feel small. How much faith does it take to walk one of these streets alone, and pray for the faces walking by, and believe that something will change? Let me tell you… It takes more faith than I have. I feel small. It’s encouraging and powerful to walk streets in prayer with other believers. But right now, alone, it’s hard. Jesus… Where are you?
The burden that I feel right now over the sin of this city sitting before me is still new to me. I’ve experienced it before in Turkey. And after returning from Turkey, it was like dragging a large block of ice behind me… And the burden of the lostness melted away into my daily routine. I don’t want to ever lose this burden… and I don’t want something as simple as my daily routine to take it away from me.
We’re not aware of our sin at home. C. S. Lewis sums it up in The Problem of Pain:
“When the apostles preached, they could assume even in their Pagan hearers a real consciousness of deserving the Divine anger. The Pagan mysteries existed to allay this consciousness, and the Epicurean philosophy claimed to deliver men from the fear of eternal punishment. It was against this background that the Gospel appeared as good news. It brought news of possible healing to men who knew that they were mortally ill. But all this has changed. Christianity now has to preach the diagnosis–in itself very bad news–before it can win a hearing for the cure.”
The Good News is no good news to those who don’t know the bad news.
Jesus, give me the faith to believe that this burden and weakness I feel have been slain upon the cross. You tore the curtain. And you have left us so that the Spirit may come. Holy Spirit move in this city. Give me the faith to believe. You reign in this place. This is a city of your precious children that you so dearly love. I weep with you over the souls in this place that do not know You, the gracious redeemer and giver of life. Lord, come. Jesus, you are here and you are pleading with souls to turn from their wicked ways and you are drawing hearts to you. Nothing is lost in this place… because you know right where everyone is. Jesus rain down your mercy and salvation on this place!