This is my last blog post of the summer. I sent off my final group back to Fort Wayne, Indiana on Saturday morning (yes, I hosted a group from my hometown during my last week, and it was a blast!) Now, I am spending a few days in the city to say final goodbyes, tie up loose ends, and reflect upon my summer.
Seeing God do work in the city is kind of like a drug. Once I got a small high from it, I found it irresistible. Tasting its flavor is addictive; nothing else can provide the same kind of satisfaction. God’s love emits from every hopeful smile I see on the face of a person who, according to the world, should be hopeless. That hope draws me in and keeps me lingering in God’s kingdom. Where else would I rather be?
Before coming to Chicago, upon passing a homeless person on the sidewalk, I might have thought to myself, “I really should start a non-profit organization to help pull people like this out of their bad situations.” God has undoubtedly blessed me with an administrative personality, and I am learning every day how to use it better for His purpose. However, God refined me in Chicago. Now when I pass a homeless person on the sidewalk, my thought is more like this: “I should take that person out to lunch and listen to his/her story.” A relational side to my personality has started to move to the surface, and it is manifest in the way I see the world around me. People are more special than ever, each one holding a unique story and some kind of profound wisdom. Every “hello” is the passport to a potential adventure of discovery and an opportunity to see God living the hearts of His people. Creation is beautiful, and in the midst of chaos, it is hopeful.
As my heart broke for Chicago this summer, I could not help but let my heart also break for my home in Indiana. I got to see the world’s injustices in this big city, but they reminded me of the injustices I’ve seen elsewhere. However, every ounce of pain I saw was paired with the hope of an image of God’s coming kingdom. The wonderful thing about the Kingdom of God is that it is everywhere: Fort Wayne, Goshen, Chicago, Peru. His kingdom is in the hearts of my homeless brothers and sisters on the streets of Chicago, in the housing projects of Cabrini Green, in my Downtown at 808 church in Goshen, in the conversations shared at the coffee shops of southwest Fort Wayne. I do not have to be in Chicago to see God at work; my Creator is renewing His creation everywhere on Earth. Within the Kingdom of God, heaven on Earth, the reign of God – that is where I want to be.
Thank you to everyone who followed my summer journey in Chicago through this blog. Your love, support, and prayers were not unnoticed. Peace, love, and grace to you all.