(blerg. somehow my food post got deleted & it was loooong. in the meantime, here's where my heart is at about Boston & specifically Charlestown. food update soon.)
|bunker hill monument|
"At the end of the day, it's just a city", my sister told me over the phone. We were discussing our family and Boston and what in the world the Lord had in store for us when she made this sweet declaration a few weeks ago. In all honesty, she's right - but I have a feeling that anyone who's ever considered planting a church in a city other than their own knows how untrue that statement can feel. For us, Boston is an idea that carries these heavy ideas and memories and dreams and desires. It started as a unrealistic dream and morphed into potential risky venture, and somehow we've found ourselves with it settled in our hearts as a delayed hope. Sort of a future picture with stained edges, a hazy focus, and the undeniable tint of doubt. Would the Lord have told us this for some reason other us being able to see it accomplished? Did He in fact tell us this? Will we ever make it there? It seems likely, but so have other things in the past. Faith tells us to be sure in what we hope for, humans tell us to be cautious, and our history with the Lord tells us to love Him no matter what He has in store.
So, right, it's just a city. A city with thousands of people in need of Jesus, but I'd be lying if I said it didn't carry so much more.
My only real hopes for the trip were to connect deeply with my husband, follow my counselor's strict orders to "play" and "rest" - which inevitably took a little planning, and I had a hope in the back of my heart that I'd hear from Him. The last time I went to Boston, I was basically just a kid, with no thoughts of church planting or preaching husbands or gospel proclamation. So I prayed a sort of wimpy prayer, asking the Lord to, you know - if He would, speak to MY heart about Boston. Nick has had his marching orders for years now, and I have had mine - but I've only felt assigned to my husband so far. The fact that the statistics just made sense to me simply added to my assurance of his call. Husband feels called, ok. 16,000 people in a neighborhood with no protestant, english speaking gospel-proclaiming churches. Done and done. I'd let the Lord decide if I needed more.
A few hours into our stay in the city, I confessed to Nick that I didn't feel connected. Walking around the North End and the Financial District, Beacon Hill and Back Bay - I was impressed, but I wasn't home. It didn't feel like "just a city" and it didn't feel right for us. I felt out of place, small, and frustrated with feelings in general. On Friday morning, I was reading and praying and going about business as usual and all of a sudden, I felt like the Lord gave me a clear command. Maybe the first He's given me in a while.
|streets of ctown|
from psalm 24:
The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein, for he has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers. Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully. He will receive blessing from the Lord & righteousness from the God of his salvation. Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek the face of the God of Jacob.
Jessi, please stop making an idol of this city. It is the Lord's. All of these people who are scaring the poop out of you, they are His. Not yours to compare yourself to or cower in front of. His. And who will ascend the hill of the Lord, historically meaning - enter into His church? Clean hands. Pure heart. Not the one hunched over in the corner, stressing out over her fittedness for this role or lifting up her soul to the false expectations she's been dreaming up herself. Clean hands. Pure heart. He will do the rest.
And on we went to Charlestown.
Walking through the neighborhood, my heart was thawing.
This isn't about us. About our ability or our timeline or our goals or even, our family.
Sixteen thousand people. Needing Jesus. Literally, needing Him. And we know Him.
The Bunker Hill monument sits up on a hill, in the middle of Charlestown and once you climb the steps, you can just do turn all the way around and see the whole beautiful neighborhood. The million dollar homes, the projects, the corner stores. The hundred year old cathedrals and the boys and girls club. With each step I took up those sweet old steps, tears were just pouring down. This place is our home. This place, where a battle was fought, essentially for our freedom, is most assuredly a place where we (me, too!) are being called to fight for the freedom in Christ that is available for this city. The rest of Psalm 24 came rushing back to me, Lift up your heads, O gates! And be lifted up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is this King of glory? The LORD, strong and mighty the LORD, mighty in battle! Lift up your heads, O gates! And lift them up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory!
Those ancient doors are shifting, grating against two hundred years of hardened hearts and cold ground.
And we're moving to Charlestown.