They all looked up at me, some in expectation, many in skepticism, perhaps all secretly hoping that this weekend would bring some peace to their wounded worlds. This past weekend was our conference for the girls of the Miskolc Children's Home. We brought them to our village -- a good two hour trip from their institutionalized home.
The walls were raised high and perhaps re-inforced when they arrived of Friday night. Many were determined not to let anyone in. And it would be naive of any of us involved in the planning or ministry to expect that a 36 hour getaway to break through walls erected by more than a decade of hurt and pain. Our ministry is not a weekend, a series of sessions, or even the bible study Russ leads every week. It has to be long-term, consistent and loving, or it is worth little. These girls have experienced affection for a moment, but have not known a love that truly endures.
And so we talked a lot about love last weekend. Yeah, we talked about boys, and what they want. We talked about ourselves and what we seek in a relationship. And the difference between the two. But if there was any message that I pray the girls took home with them, it was the message of the last session -- the message of God's love for them.
We looked at several true stories from scripture -- Leah, the ugly one who was unloved all her days; Hagar, the used; and David's daughter Tamar, raped by her own half-brother. They are harsh stories, dysfunctional families that remind us all too poigniantly of how imperfect our world is. They are stories to which these girls could relate.
We looked at Mary and Martha and wondered together why Jesus arrived too late. And we discovered what Jesus does when he sees us in our pain. Just like with Mary and Martha, he weeps for us. The God who created heaven and earth sees us in our pain and his heart breaks. And he weeps.
But he does not stop there. He also longs to bring us restoration, but he will not force it upon us. We must be willing to take him to that ugly place where we have buried all our pain. We must be willing to roll back the stone so that he can bring resurrection to the ugly rotting dead things of our lives.
I left the conference wondering if it was even worthwhile -- if any message broke through. I watched as many of the girls left with those walls still strongly barricaded. But as I look at them, perhaps I am looking at the wrong place.
Isaiah 45:22 challenges us to: "Look to Me, and be saved". Through this conference we continually directed the girls to look to Him. We strove to show them they are now alone in their suffering, and more than that, there is a God who truly finds them precious -- like treasure. And his love does not fade. It is truly Agape.
Maybe I need to stop looking for instant gratification in spiritual ministry. Instead, I need to simply look to Him. "Our difficulties, our trials, and our worries about tomorrow all vanish when we look to God," Oswald Chambers wrote in his devotional slated for this date. But other things vanish too: our arrogance, our insecurity, our need to be a "success", our need for instant gratification in our spiritual walk.
The Lord cries out, "Look to Me." Why do I look everywhere else except at Him?
I only need to lift my eyes and I am made complete in the spectacular view.