Meeting Jesus as a Black Woman in a White City

I asked God to rescue me from a place I hated. He wanted me to stay put.
KIM CASH TATE| JUNE 21, 2019

Meeting Jesus as a Black Woman in a White City

It’s one of my most vivid memories as a girl: sitting on the edge of my bed, face angled toward the window, eyes peeled for my daddy. My heart would race as a new set of headlights approached—maybe that’s him—before sinking as the car passed into the distance. Still, I’d hold on to hope. From the time my parents divorced—I was four—I looked forward to these planned outings with my dad.

Although they were both college-educated and hard-working, my parents differed greatly. My mom was very much a homebody. Other than work, she hardly ventured anywhere. Even so, I admired her: Everything she did, she did excellently. And when she had convictions, she stuck to them. She gave me a wonderfully stable, predictable life. But for me, that often translated to boring.

My dad was the fun one. Mom would never ride a roller coaster, but Dad would coax me into the front car. He played sports, loved music, and had an infectious laugh. Whenever I knew he was coming, I’d have my bag packed, ready to go.

Where is he? Did he forget about me? Daddy was always out and about, so there was never any point trying his landline. (This was the era before mobile phones.) All I could do was wait, even as daylight turned to dusk and dusk to night. Tears would gather as I realized he wasn’t coming. Again. More than once I thought, I must not really matter. He must not really love me.

When I picture that little girl looking out the window, pining for her father, it’s amazing to think that God was watching me even then. He knew the void I felt. He knew the relationship I longed for. And he knew that one day he would draw me to himself.

Craving Intimacy

I was raised in Prince George’s County, Maryland, just outside Washington, DC. We weren’t a churchgoing family. But I knew about God from St. Margaret’s Elementary. I’ll never forget experiencing the Stations of the Cross during a third-grade Easter observance. Our class filed into the sanctuary and moved from picture to picture, pausing at each image depicting Jesus on the day of his crucifixion. By the time we got to Jesus hanging on the cross, I was in tears. Even the knowledge that he rose again was no comfort. How could something so awful happen to someone so good?

I had no concept of Jesus dying so I could be saved and have a close relationship with him. And without that sort of relationship, I felt a void. There was a hole in my heart that I wanted to fill, an intimacy I craved. That’s what enticed me about sex—the intimacy it would bring. Or so I thought.

I lost my virginity the summer before I turned 16. This brought feelings of shame, because my mom had always preached abstinence until marriage, albeit without any biblical motivations. I had dismissed her convictions as old-fashioned, but deep down I couldn’t shake the thought that she was right. I wasn’t comfortable having sex. After that summer, I decided to abstain.

But my mom’s convictions weren’t enough to keep me, because without God’s redeeming power I was a slave to sin. And so, when I went off to college, my flesh had free reign.

I loved college. I loved having the freedom to live life on my own terms. Despite living far from God, in my mind I was doing well. After graduating, I went to law school, and during my second year, I fell in love with a fellow graduate student named Bill. We knew we wanted to get married. Bill got an offer as an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin, so after graduating in May 1991, we moved to Madison to start our careers.

I hated Madison. My plan had been to stay in the DC area for the rest of my life. The only other suitable options would have been another major city rich with black culture. But as I’d searched for jobs, God had closed every door in Washington—and opened the door wide in Madison. I had landed one of the best jobs possible: clerking for a federal judge.

Still, I wasn’t happy. Madison was too white. I’d count the number of black people in the mall or grocery store and get excited if I could move past one hand. Negative thoughts swirled in my mind: Why am I living in a place I hate? Because of a man? I complained incessantly and traveled back home as often as I could. Despite enjoying career and financial success, I couldn’t relinquish my bitterness.

One day, I had a strange idea: I could pray. I remembered God from those Bible stories at St. Margaret’s. I remembered that he could do miracles. Perhaps, I reasoned, he could intervene miraculously to get me out of Madison. This became my prayer. And as I prayed, I started thinking, If I want God to do something for me, I should probably do something for him. Like go to church.

My thinking was warped, of course, but God was using it. He was on my mind now. I was talking to him. Bill and I started going to church sporadically, and before long I felt convicted about our living together outside of marriage. Our wedding was only months away, but it suddenly bothered me that we were “living in sin.” Those words were surely a throwback to what my mom had taught. But for the first time, I started wondering what God thought about my life.

Bill and I decided to have a private wedding ceremony two weeks later, on Valentine’s Day. Never before had I made a conscious decision with God in mind. Still, I hadn’t yet come to a full grasp of his purposes. I thought our living arrangement was the problem. But my entire heart needed cleansing.

Clinging to the God of the Universe

About one year later I found myself in Beverly Hills at the wedding of “Jimmy Jam” Harris, the Minneapolis-based R&B super-producer. I’d started dabbling in entertainment law and would drive to Minneapolis to meet with clients in the music world. And now I was at the wedding of the year, talking to artists I’d admired from afar, including Janet Jackson.

When I arrived home, Bill stopped me at the door, but not to ask about my weekend. He couldn’t wait to tell me he’d visited a new church that morning. The following Sunday, we visited together. By the end of service, I was in tears. For the first time, I heard the true gospel preached, and it rocked me. Finally, I understood why Jesus died on that cross. Finally, I saw myself as God saw me—a sinner in need of redemption. I asked God to forgive me, and I received Jesus as my Lord and Savior. For all my prayers that God would save me from Madison, his plan, all along, had been to save me in Madison.

Looking back now, from a distance of 25 years, I remember how studying the Book of Deuteronomy was a pivotal part of my early Christian walk. One word, in particular, jumped off the page. Deuteronomy 10:20 and 13:4 mention “holding fast”—or clinging, as some translations have it—to God. There was so much in the Bible I didn’t understand, but that word spoke clearly. It meant relationship—close relationship. Yet it was hard to fathom. The God of the universe would let me cling to him?

What an unsurpassable gift for that little girl staring out of the window, waiting for her dad, and wondering if she really mattered. My Abba Father was letting me know that I could enjoy an intimate relationship with him forever.

Kim Cash Tate is an author and Bible teacher. She is the creator and executive producer of the YouTube series CLING.

https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2019/july-august/kim-cash-tate-meeting-jesus-black-woman-white-city.html

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Apathy

June 14, 2019 by Discerning Dad

The best hammock overall

But whoever has been forgiven little shows only little love.  Luke 7:47

Apathy can strike us at any stage in life and at any area of our life. But what is apathy exactly? Apathy is an “absence or suppression of passion, emotion, or excitement” or “a lack of interest in or concern for things that others find moving or exciting.” We can have apathy in anything from our jobs, school, spouses, family, children, politics, hobbies, and yes even, unfortunately, God.

If we look at Luke 7:36-50, we see Jesus at a house of a Pharisee. An unnamed woman (different than the stories where they name Mary wiping Jesus’ feet in the other gospels) who had been in a sinful life (possibly a prostitute) enters the house, pours perfume on Jesus’ feet and wipes it off with her hair. Jesus asked Simon question, “Two people owned money to a moneylender, one 500 and one 50. Both were forgiven, which of them would love him more?” Simon answered correctly the one who had the bigger debt. Jesus then honors the woman for what she did and calls out the apathy of the people in the house who did not do the same thing for Him.

We see an important example here of what can happen in the Christian life when we either grow up in the church or we have been a Christian for a while. We get apathetic for the things of God. We lose our first love (Revelation 2:4). We lose sight of the fact that we have been saved from an eternal punishment for our sin and we now have everlasting life where Jesus will bring to fulfillment a world with no sin, sickness, or death. I see newer Christians who have been saved out of immense bondage who have a freedom and joy many Christians never get to experience. To them, they have seen death first hand in the form of addiction, sin, new age, or the occult. They know the joy and freedom that Jesus gives and the removal of the curse over their life of death and decay. These newer Christians can be on fire for God and stand as an example for every Christian who acts apathetically before our Lord and Savior by refusing to read the Bible, witness to others, or love their brothers and sisters. Just like in the example from Luke, these newer Christians see fully the immense debt they were forgiven from.

Many Christians are not purposefully apathetic. They can still love Jesus they just go through the motions. If we do not view our forgiven debt as significant (which it is), we can find ourselves thinking “well I was a decent person before I was saved”, “I didn’t do anything THAT terrible”, “I’ve grown up in the church, I’ve always loved Jesus, I never had THAT bad of sin.” We need to remember that the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). This does not only mean the sin we ourselves created, but the sinful nature we were born into. The sin we committed and still commit TODAY as Christians deserves death. We should never act so entitled to our salvation that we forget the great price that was paid by Jesus on Calvary so that we would not face what we actually deserved!

Now, there’s another aspect to this story of Jesus and the woman. The woman came in, overwhelmed with emotion, washing Jesus’ feet. Jesus told the Pharisees “her many sins have been forgiven- as her great love has shown.”

In other words, the woman was forgiven and showed her immense gratitude and love for Jesus.

THEN Jesus says to the woman, “Your sins are forgiven.” What Jesus says about the woman He then says directly to her. But why? She already “knew” that her sins were forgiven which is why she was there in the first place honoring Jesus. I feel this is more of a personal reassurance to the woman. She may have been haunted by reminders of the past and overwhelming memories of her sin. Jesus reminded her of His grace for her and of her forgiveness she needed to accept, even though it had already happened.

Satan is the king of guilt trips. If we have been forgiven from sin, God removes it as far as “the east is from the west” (Psalm 103:12) provided that we “go and sin no more” (John 8:11). When our thoughts go to the past, we need to stop them before they snowball out of control. Our past can cause us to feel like we are unworthy of grace, unworthy to be used by God, and unworthy of love. We must turn these thoughts into love FOR God WHO IS WORTHY, just like the woman who wept over Jesus’ feet.

So how can we combat apathy in our Christian life? How do we not lose our “first love”? Apathy is also known as being “lukewarm” and is given as a warning to the church in Laodicea (Revelation 3:16). First of all it’s not easy; it takes a willful effort on our part to read the Bible, to pray daily, to love our neighbor, to listen to God’s voice, and walk where He leads. Not out of “going through the motions” but out of genuine love and desire for a relationship with our Bridegroom who came and died for us and is coming back again.

We need to make our prayer like David after the prophet Nathan convicted him of his sin with Bathsheba in Psalm 51:12, “Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.”

Discerning Reflection: How have I been apathetic or even lukewarm in my relationship with Jesus? What can I do TODAY to address this? Do I truly desire this and why?

Prayer: Lord, restore to me the joy of my salvation. Thank you for your work on the cross and may I never take that for granted. Forgive me of apathy I have had and give me a fire again for a relationship with You! Amen.

Tim Ferrara

Discerning Dad  http://www.discerning-dad.com

Apathy

Like Sheep Without a Shepherd

 

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Have you ever noticed two groups of people who hold God’s attention? You wouldn’t think an impartial God would have specific categories for certain people, but amazingly, He does: orphans and widows. You’re right; they’re not the groups anyone wants to join. There’s no line to sign up, which is precisely why God keeps a keen eye on these two flocks. Yet surprisingly, He promises to be their Father and Husband. Not only do we find Him sharply protective, but He’s moved with tremendous compassion. So much, that it overflows into the everyday lives of you and me. We can’t help but want to go the extra mile in helping the child without a dad and the woman without a husband. They look just like us, but when learning of their plight, we soften. Our hearts touched by God’s finger for our involvement.

It was that way for my dad. His father died when he was only nine, making his already orphaned mother a widow in her early 30s, and he and his brother fatherless. It couldn’t have come at a worse time. America was just crawling out from the rubble of The Great Depression and everything was scarce. Everything, but God’s endless pavilions of provision. Despite their destitution, He provided for them. He touched people’s hearts and caused others to open their homes and dinner tables.

“A father to the fatherless and a defender of widows, is God in His holy habitation. God makes a home for the lonely.” (Psalms 68:5-6a)

God makes it known that He protects the weak. Weakened only by circumstance. Perhaps you’ve never considered that one as busy as God has time to be concerned with the small details of the fatherless child. It is here we see His sterling character sparkle yet again. It’s far too easy to think the Lord’s uninvolved with our struggle; hasn’t got the time or interest for those that society’s forgotten. Yet look how He taught His disciples by the widow’s mite or the boy willing to share his fish sandwiches with 5,000 men. It moves God. Deeply. Passionately. Protectively.

“Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd.” (Matthew 9:36)

It bears repeating, “Like sheep without a shepherd.” Notice, they were distressed and dispirited. Did my dad, uncle, and grandmother struggle? Yes, we have tribulation in this world. But were there people that rose to the occasion, allowing their hearts and hands to be an extension of God’s? Absolutely. Despite hardships, my dad remembered a happy childhood filled with people willing to pause for involvement. Mentors available to lead and point when my grandfather’s voice was silenced.

Perhaps you know a child in this very predicament. Perhaps you are that child. Perhaps your dad is living but you still feel fatherless. Grown or young, the void is there. I would encourage all to step up and make a positive difference in the fatherless around us. It doesn’t have to be earthshattering. My father recalled the kindness of being given oranges after going months without fresh fruit; a simple candy cane at Christmastime, or a street vendor’s hot baked potato on a snowy winter’s night. Small acts of love confirm our heavenly Father’s goodness, and the tangible proof He cares and works through people. This is the religion that Jesus’ brother James wrote about as being pure and faultless … to look after widows and orphans in their distress. It’s a loving embrace received by the child whose hair is no longer tousled by an absent father.

How like God. No matter how much love we give away, He’s ensured we’d never run out. This Father’s Day, let’s remember to thank God for being our Abba Father and keeping us from being spiritual orphans. And let’s relentlessly search for that one who’s whispered prayers for fatherly love and kindness.

Copyright © May 24, 2013, by Susan M. Watkins. Used by permission.

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https://www1.cbn.com/devotions/Like-Sheep-Without-a-Shepherd