I had promised to write about sex and the Christian single, but the article I am writing is not the one I planned. Last week I watched a story on the evening news that has left me echoing the question Beneatha asked in A Raisin in the Sun, “Oh, God! Where is the bottom! Where is the honest-to-God bottom so he (we) can’t go any farther!” The story was of a 15-year-old girl in California attending a homecoming dance who was brutally raped and beaten outside of her school for 2½ hours by as many as 10 people. The rape took place while police and school officials were inside the school supervising the dance. But the most troubling aspect for me was that at least 10 other teens watched as one of their own was brutalized and not one of them called 911. How does a 15-year-old girl begin to recover from that? How do we?
Where is the bottom? This story is on the heels of another story coming out of Chicago. Honor student Derrion Albert, 16, was walking home from school when he became an innocent bystander in the middle of a gang-related street fight. He was knocked to the ground after being struck in the head with a board, and, after initially regaining consciousness and trying to get up, he was kicked and stomped in the head. He never got up again. The whole thing was captured on a cell phone video recording. I know because for the first time I watched. This time I couldn’t allow myself to escape into my relatively safe neighborhood or hide within the four walls of my church. I needed to bear witness to the horror occurring in the streets of our city. I needed to see the terror in the voice of another woman’s baby. I needed to make sense of the callousness of children. Our children.
Around the globe, 1 in 3 women has been beaten or forced to have sex, and in America a woman is raped every 2 minutes. Sadly, 61% of all rape victims are under 18. Chicago has buried close to one child every week this year as the result of violence. Something has shifted in the psyche of our children, in us as people, and, despite all the marches and handwringing, the violence is mounting. Numbers 35:33 (NIV) states, “Do not pollute the land where you are. Bloodshed pollutes the land . . . . ” And the stench from our pollution is rising from the bottom. Last week, our church held a week of prayer and fasting for the city of Chicago. We cried out for the power of God. We prayed for the mind of Christ, and we sought the anointing of the Holy Spirit to break through the darkness that has made our children victims and killers.
Prayer is not a panacea. I’ve been to a lot of prayer services, and I’ve needed all of them. But for some of us, prayer becomes inertia. True prayer is total surrender to the will of God. We become His instruments set apart for His holy purpose to accomplish His will in the earth. Paul tells the Philippians, “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13 KJV). Prayer must enable us to do, otherwise we are merely offering “vain repetitions” or a meaningless stringing together of phrases that accomplish nothing. The Scripture states that the “love of Christ constraineth us” (2 Corinthians 5:14 KJV). Because I have experienced Christ’s love, I’m driven to demonstrate His love to a hurting world. The passage continues, “that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again” (2 Corinthians 5:15 KJV). The end result of prayer takes me outside myself and my own personal comfort and into the service of others.
We have to hit bottom. It is when we hit bottom, when we can no longer live with the mayhem in the streets – the silent screams of women and children, the swelling statistics of incomprehensible cruelty – that we fall on our knees and beg God for mercy. This time, however, we won’t pray that God will help us accomplish our agenda, but that His will be done in the earth, and then we’ll pray until we truly mean it. We will pray that His will becomes more important than our personal comfort, our safety, or even our lives. We will pray until we are completely empty of ourselves, and His Holy Spirit indwells us so that we are empowered to witness, for we know it will take the supernatural power of God to pull us out of the depths of degradation into which we have willingly fallen.
At the end of Paul’s life, he was able to say, “For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure” (2 Timothy 4:6 NIV). The will of God is that we die empty of ourselves, and the Christ in us is poured into others. Then we will know what it means to become a living sacrifice unto God. On her Facebook page, my friend has a quote that I love from the British writer, Stuart Wilde:
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “WOW…What a ride!”
I pray that the bottom does not fall out on my watch. I pray that God changes me from the inside out and makes me a vessel that He can use. I pray that Jesus will see fit to thoroughly use me up on behalf of the helpless, the hardened, and the hurting. I pray that the Jesus I encounter in church impacts the streets. I pray that I don’t become religious and irrelevant so that I am neither salt nor light. I live for the day when I run into His arms breathless, having held back nothing, no matter the cost. That is my prayer.