This is a street in the neighborhood I work in, just a block south of Austin Street Center. I picture Jesus walking down this barren, forgotten street.
I needed it the most.
As my friend Elissa said last week, "I am the first convert of my own ministry."
You see, I needed to be changed. I needed my world opened up.
God knew this.
He invited me in -- he didn't pressure me. He didn't beat me over the head. He was quiet. He was gentle. He went slowly. It has been a little bit at a time. Not too fast. Not too much.
It started with a young woman at the corner of Northwest Highway and Preston, holding an unusual sign stating she wanted to work. I stopped at the light, and invited her to have coffee with me at La Madeline. I wanted to hear her story. We talked and had coffee. I never saw her again after that.
Then, I just drove through South Dallas and from the "safety" of my car saw a different world. Some of it shocked me: houses falling apart, barren streets with vacant offices, "scary"-looking people gathered on street corners. All of it almost knocked me over -- this, THIS in my clean, neat, beautiful City? How was it possible I didn't know -- or if I vaguely knew, I didn't care?
Then Larry James invited me to the Corner. And I went. For all the fear I felt of getting dirty and smelly, of getting close to un-showered people, something in me came alive during those two hours. It was the invitation -- God was inviting me into more.
More of his heart.
More of what his eyes see every day.
More need, more suffering, more pain -- but mostly, more LIFE.
He wanted more life for me. So he had been gently tapping me on the shoulder, trying to wake me up: "Elisabeth, come deeper with me. Come deeper into my heart. Come see the need."
When you live on the street, or when you live in a homeless shelter, many of the distractions are gone. When you have slept on the streets for three months, have an addiction to crack, and have been woken up to being beaten three times, God is literally all you have.
Pope Francis says we need to let ourselves be evangelized by the poor. They have needs we can't imagine. They have dependance on God; they see God's hand of care for them in ways we don't even have eyes to see. We need them. I need them.
How do I see this short journey I've been on for the past year and a half?
Like I cannot believe God loves me this much that he would invite me into more of him.
He loves you this much, too.
And so I keep asking of him:
More, more, more.
Father, more of your heart, more of your love, more of your suffering. Let me taste you. Break me so I cannot do it alone. Make me need you more.
It is endless, this journey into more, for our Father is without depth. Let's go deeper with him!