Yesterday I reached a point in which I couldn’t do something for someone. It sucked.
Our congregation has been working with many people – those experiencing displacement, those in poverty, those living in motels, etc. The need is immense. And it can be overwhelming. And there are limits as to how much one congregation can do. The biggest limit we have is financial and energy. There is only so much time. There are only so many people who can help. There is only so much money. There is only so much.
And when you come across someone who has need and you can’t do much for them because you have reached these limits, it sucks. It is like a gut punch for you and for the person.
But it is what it is. We aren’t people’s saviors. We are called to do what we can. And sometimes there isn’t anything we can do – because we are limited. Even in that limitation, we do what we can – we offer some food, some phone numbers of agencies that might possibly be able to help, and a recognition of someone’s humanity. It’s not much, but it’s what I had.
Maybe we should have done something else. But I don’t know what that would have been.
Maybe we should have done more. But I don’t know what we could have done with the limitations we have.
We’re running thin.
And so there are times when we get to see our own limitations, our own brokenness. There are times when I deliver bad news instead of Good News. This is the world we live in.
There are about a dozen hotels/motels along the Miracle Mile. Half of them have weekly residents – people who pay by the week to live in a small crappy motel room and pay between $250-450/week for this privilege. That is far more than many mortgages in our area. There are literally hundreds of people and families who live this way in this area. Thinking about this makes me sick. And each week, I meet more and more of these folks – doing what they can to survive. They are trapped in a vicious cycle with little hope of escape. They know they need better housing, but there are limited options for housing. And so these people are trapped paying a ridiculous “rent.”
We are limited. We are just one church. I’m just one pastor.
My goal is to work with people who want to have their lives changed. We do that by creating an environment where people can have an encounter with Jesus. Sometimes that happens with material things. Sometimes with non-material things.
As overwhelming as it can be, we keep moving forward. We keep plodding along. When we get to experience a success story – of someone getting up on their feet and being where they want to be – we cheer and celebrate with them. And we keep building relationship with them. That’s what it’s all about. That’s what keeps me going. That’s what is my comforts the pain of limitation that we all experience – those times when we can’t help.
We are limited, just like the people we minister too. And we get to be changed when we encounter Jesus in the people we meet – just as they are changed. Amen.