It is hard to get Harlem out of my mind, even two days later.
One of the most memorable parts was the people who lived under the bridge, close to where the Relief Bus was set up. They never came over to visit us, but some of the men went to visit them, specifically to pick up several bags of their garbage.
"The stench there is awful," one of the neighbors confided in me. "The police will stop them if they try to pee there, but they won't take them off the street." Indeed, the bridge people did not want to leave their home under the bridge. There is a homeless shelter, a detox program and affordable housing nearby but they choose--they CHOOSE--to live under the bridge. The neighbor shook his head as if to say: this is foolishness. And it is.
But are we that different?
Today at work a client asked for a service that was not in the best interest of their community. I started to tell him exactly what I thought, but thankfully I was more prayed up today than usual and stayed silent. Afterwards I though, "He's just like the bridge people!" He had been making a series of foolish choices and this was in line with the rest of them.
It is always so easy to point out the bridge people. It is harder to see my own bridge. The bridge is a place of comfort and familiarity, the place I stay in spite of the fact that I know it is not in my best interest. I think I am right and not open to what anyone else thinks.
But because I was more prayed up than usual, I prayed the scary prayer: "Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." (Psalm 139:23-24)
Translation: Lord please show me my bridge!
The day went on and tonight I went to a special praise and prayer service, based on Isaiah 6:1-10. Isaiah had been given a vision of God, "high and lifted up and the train of His robe filled the temple." Upon seeing the awesomeness of God, Isaiah feared and realized his inadequacy. His response was, "Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips..." It was a cry of confession, because now Isaiah saw the Lord and realized he should fear Him.
Confession is the response to the fear of a holy and awesome God. In God's presence we realize He is totally perfect, too beautiful to even look at it, and we are hopelessly flawed.
Confession is the path to restoration with God. And also with each other.
And I confess to you that I don't confess nearly enough! Confession should be a part of daily prayer and I don't do it. I am so much better than I was that I think I am done. It is such a gut wrenching feeling when I honestly see my own sin that I don't want to look to close and see it.
Often I don't look at all. But I need too. How can I expect my children to when I don't? How can I expect my husband to when I don't? The answer: I can't!!
Pastor Tim was an outstanding example as always. Confession of his own person flaws are often part of his sermons. Tonight after he preached about confession and asked us to write our confessions down on posters on the church walls, he was the first to grab a marker go to the wall and start writing.
Father, confession is a tender privilege of the redeemed. You don't want to call me out and embarrass me. You don't intend to turn Your back to reject me. You are not surprised at my sin, only I am! You desire to restore me to Yourself and to these others here in my house, neighborhood, office, and church whom I love. Father help me not to point at others' bridges and feel self-righteous but to allow You to show me my own. Help me take the time and have the courage to do this.
Ok, I have to ask you---what is YOUR bridge? Why are you not leaving for a better place? It's stinky there. Just saying.