Bearing the Image at the Place of Shame, Pain, and Despair

Our mission statement at Fat Beggars School of Prophets:  We go to the place of shame, pain, and despair in our community and bear the image of God there.

The point: The image of God makes mountains bow down, valleys stand at attention, and the rough places smooth out (Isa. 40:4-5).  If the mere sight of God in one makes water firm enough to walk on (Mark 6:48), then this image bearing vocation is the real healing power for creation.  We lowly beggars are not too proud to show our God to the world.  And since Jesus does this most supremely at Golgotha, (Mark 15:39), we think it is wise to go to the place of shame, pain, and despair to do it too.

Yes, but how? – you ask?

Jesus is revealed in the breaking of the bread (Luke 24:30-31).  So, normally we share communion with each other and any passersby who will humble themselves before our LORD and eat with a few of his homeless messengers.

It’s all so prophetic, really.

But it went a bit different yesterday.  I was in the jail lobby for a job interview when a frantic woman came in worried that her daughter was in trouble.  I was acquainted with the woman from before, and she recognized me as a person who might care.  She asked the man in charge if I worked there and immediately said, “You should hire him!  He’s a good guy!”

Her story tumbled out amid tears and sobs.  Her eyes locked on to me as we sat under the watchful eye of the surveillance camera.  What healing touch could I offer?  What hope could I give?  What would Jesus do?

I did the only thing I could think of:  I offered prayer, and the lady accepted whole-heartedly.  Then Jesus came.

We knelt on the floor in that jail-house lobby taking hands.  Following Jesus’ lead, I offered the LORD’s Prayer.  I purposefully slowed the cadence of that familiar prayer on the parts that spoke to us.  “…May Your Kingdom come and Your Will be done… here in this placelike it is in heaven. … Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive others…  Lead us not to temptation, but deliver us from evil…”

About half way through, she began reciting it with me.  It was like the karate kid waxing the car and painting the fence.  She knew the prayer from childhood, but suddenly she found the power of karate … a hem… of God in it.  Jesus was speaking to her from ancient, mysterious places in her heart.

Jesus assured her that her daughter was now covered in his care and that there are no dungeons in that jail where the young lady will be forgotten.  I assured her that it is a mother’s prerogative to cry about it, but it is God’s prerogative to teach us all to trust him.

Every bit of this drama unfolded before the watchful eye of that camera.  It is now a part of the institutional record.  The power of God in that simple image of humble worship between desperate people who did not know what else to do is still at work there today.  (I hope they are reviewing tape!)

Jesus is the star of that show.  I did not plan for it.  I was just as helpless as the mother.  I only knew how to turn to the Savior.  I dared to awaken her knowledge of him too.  And together in that place of shame, pain, and despair, we invited God to reveal himself to the authorities and rulers of this town.