12 Days of Waiting…and Prayer

#ForColumbia2016These past several weeks, I have had a ringside seat to all of the various people, plans and possibilities that have been wrapped up in #ForColumbia2016, the community-wide event scheduled for the evening of April 22nd and all day on Saturday the 23rd. (In case you were as yet unaware, 34 local churches – and hundreds of volunteers – have joined up to spend their time, talent and treasure simply trying to be a blessing to our community.)

Columbia, Missouri, has definitely taken its lumps this past year, and were I not “an insider” to the various divides (theological, racial, economic, lifestyle) that have already been breached by #ForColumbia2016 team members, the temptation to be cynical might be overwhelming. Put another way, I might be inclined to believe that our city is just a hot mess if the headlines were my only measuring stick. More than I might have thought possible, I am actually encouraged by the tone of reconciliation that I see taking place in our community.

#ForColumbia2016The preparations for this event have been massive and will continue right up to the kick-off on Friday the 22nd. Many, many people have stepped forward with an enthusiastic “Yes!” when asked to serve. That alone is something our city can take pride in; Columbia residents have not given themselves over to cynicism or despair. Quite the opposite, in fact.

Everyone working to make #ForColumbia2016 a success is well aware that the outcome of the event is in the Lord’s hands. With that in mind, I’d just like to offer up some thoughts on prayers for the next 12 days. If you feel moved to include any of these thoughts in your own daily prayer life, everyone on the #ForColumbia2016 team would be so very grateful.

  • #ForColumbia2016Pray that the Lord would be glorified by the work of our hands. Hard to believe, but it’s easy to lose sight of this primary goal! As we run around madly matching paint chips or spreading mulch, we all too easily lose sight of the fact that we are seeking to serve the Lord first. Pray that God would soften hearts such that everyone participating in #ForColumbia2016 would feel the lightness of spirit that allows them to put down the paint roller (or whatever) long enough to get to know their neighbors a little bit better.
  • Pray that God would be pleased to give #ForColumbia2016 weekend fair weather. Last year, the work site I was assigned to shut down early due to rain. While we appreciate God’s gift of rain, please consider praying that He would relent and provide sunshine and warmth for our volunteers on the 22nd and 23rd.
  • Pray for a deep spirit of cooperation and openness among volunteers and those being served. Yes, it’s great to be able to point to a successfully-completed job at the end of the day. We all know that feeling of satisfaction that comes with a task being completed. That said, pray the God would work in our hearts such that a lasting legacy from #ForColumbia2016 would be hearts changed, relationships begun (or strengthened) and a community-wide commitment to the good of our neighbors.
  • #ForColumbia2016Pray that God would continue to call others to Himself. Christians are not taking to the streets to serve other Christians exclusively. We are seeking to serve people from all walks of life, making no distinction between believers and those of other faiths (or no faith tradition at all). History clearly shows that one of God’s greatest tools for calling others to Himself is the self-sacrifice of those who know Him. We are not stepping out to put tracts in people’s hands, we are hoping rather to serve selflessly, to work unto the Lord and trust Him to do what He will with our meager efforts.
  • Pray that Columbia would be a visibly-better community as a result. Ask God to consider leaving small “monuments” to His faithfulness scattered throughout the mid-Missouri area such that others might be tempted to stop, scratch their heads and wonder, “Why did those guys work so hard on this?”

Grace and peace to all #ForColumbia2016 volunteers as you receive your work assignments and T-shirts this week. Thank you for your service and your commitment to our community.

Psalm 127:1 (ESV)
Unless the Lord builds the house,
those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city,
the watchman stays awake in vain.

#ForColumbia2016Nehemiah 4:9
And we prayed to our God and set a guard as a protection against them day and night.

Jeremiah 29:1,4-7
These are the words of the letter that Jeremiah the prophet sent from Jerusalem to the surviving elders of the exiles, and to the priests, the prophets, and all the people, whom Nebuchadnezzar had taken into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon…It said: “Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.”

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