“Did you ever know that you’re my hero,
And everything I would like to be?
I can fly higher than an eagle,
For you are the wind beneath my wings.”
(From Wind Beneath My Wings by Bette Midler)
This song reminds me that I enjoy and accomplish many things because I stand on the shoulders of great people. Thank you, God, for the heroes in my life.
John the Baptist is one of these heroes. From the time he leapt in Elizabeth’s womb, John witnessed what discipleship is all about. As we celebrate his birth, we celebrate the way his life “prepared the way.”
John’s conception and birth speak of trusting in God’s Providence. Elizabeth and Zachariah thought they were beyond child bearing years, yet God is full of surprises. Formed by this miraculous journey, Elizabeth and Zachariah, in turn, formed John to accept a mission that he would not fully understand.
In my ministry as Director of Depaul USA Daybreak (a day resource center for our homeless brothers and sisters), I know I’m called to show each person the love God has for them and to proclaim “Homeless Has No Place.” Like John, I’m not clear on how we can eliminate homelessness, but I have faith that our team can help pave the way. On days when I’m uncertain and people think I have a crazy message, I’m inspired by John to forge ahead and invite others to believe.
Daily, I see miracles as people break out of substance abuse, get houses, or land a job and as donors and volunteers lend a helping hand. It can be tempting to think that these are my doings. On these days, I’m inspired by John’s words, “I’m not worthy to untie the sandal.”
Daybreak is not about me. It’s about seeing Christ in every person I serve and about remembering this ministry is a sacred trust of which I am not worthy. All I am is a gift from God and used to forward his mission of love.
Although I love my ministry at Depaul USA Daybreak, my heart breaks as I experience the poverty of those around me, as I see doors closed to people who need mental health care, and as I see people succumb to drugs and alcohol. John teaches me that suffering is part of the discipleship call. Even when you are delivering a fail-safe message, people will turn the other way. Others will think you are crazy or what you say can’t be real. After all his effort, John was killed by someone who was fascinated by his words, but not willing to change. I hope that I’m not beheaded, but I trust that God will even use our sufferings and failures to complete the task and to slowly accomplish His will: that homelessness has no place. After all, each of us has a home in the loving embrace of our Savior.
Happy birthday, John the Baptist. Thank you for journeying with me as I too “prepare the way.”
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