“She’s decided to go back to the streets.” I felt like someone physically knocked the wind out of me when those simple words left my boss’s mouth.
“She…she what?” I stammered, hoping that I had heard wrong or that I had misunderstood, but my co-worker’s downcast expression and sober tone told me my hearing was just fine. The girl in question was one of the first I met when I initially started working with sex trafficking victims and prostituted persons. She had been in the program a couple months at the time and was lively, delightful, and one of those people you cannot help but immediately like. The very first night I met her, she had a group of us rounded up into a circle playing the ninja game, the one where you are trying to slap each others’ hands to win. She was one of those people with an infectious laugh, and I liked her immediately. We talked a lot, and she shared her future plans. Her eyes sparkled with passion as she told me how proud she was to be there. She spoke of future dreams. She was turning her life around. I could not wait to see what would come next, and then, she was gone, choosing to return to her former lifestyle–and there was not a solitary thing we could do about it.
When I started thinking about writing this post, I realized I was not precisely sure how I wanted to begin it. Lately, though, I have been reading the book Love Does by Bob Goff. Goff is an attorney, adjunct professor at Pepperdine Law, and the founder of Restore International, a Christian ministry working internationally to further human rights protection. His candor and passion for Christ are also quickly pushing him toward the top of my list of favorite authors; seriously, if you have not read Love Does, it needs to go on your to-read list. Anyways, in his book, he made a statement that perfectly captures what was on my heart as I sat down to write this:
…the kind of love that God created and demonstrated is a costly one because it involves sacrifice and presence. It’s a love that operates more like a sign language than being spoken outright.- Bob Goff, Love Does
God does not call us to a safe or easy path. All too often, it is easy to get excited about the idea of serving others. It is easy to sit comfortably behind our computer screens, read about the plights of orphans and widows around the world, and daydream of the incredible things that we could be doing to help them. We can imagine grand feats that we will accomplish and the incredible impact we will have for Christ. We are confident and sure of where God is leading us. We just know we can make a difference. So, we jump into service with naive hearts and the best of intentions. Then, reality comes crashing in on our perfect daydream. Things go wrong. People do not live up to our expectations. God does not choose to move the way we anticipated. Things get hard. Things get uncomfortable. Situations get complicated. We invest our hearts, only to get hurt. Suddenly, we start second guessing everything. It can be easy to want to pull back or withdraw–to retreat to a safe zone. However, the fact that things are difficult or challenging does not mean we are not right in the center of God’s will.
“There are three stages to every great work of God: first it is impossible, then it is difficult, then it is done.” –Hudson Taylor, Founder of China Inland Mission
When we choose to follow the biblical James 1:27 mandate, we are not given a guarantee of smooth sailing. We are never promised that it will all go well or work out every time in a way that we understand. In fact, God warns us that we will face challenges. In John 16:33b, Jesus directly tells us, “In the world, you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
We are called to love like Jesus. Jesus’ love for us led Him to a cross. It is a love that costs, and we are called to love others with that sort of love. That means being willing to be hurt. That means taking risks. That means being willing to walk in faith, even when the results are not what we want or expect. As Goff said, it is a type of love that requires sacrifice and presence.
One of our main goals with this blog is to encourage our generation to come together and obey God’s call to serve the orphans and widows–to make a difference and take action. That is something that should excite us! We should be passionate and on fire as we leap into new adventures, following Christ’s guidance. However, there will be valley days as well as mountaintops. There will be moments when we do not see the results, and in those times, we need to trust that our God is still in control. He is still working, and He is still powerful enough to accomplish His ultimate purposes.
With His Hope,