The last couple of weeks have truly been a swirl of activity both good and heavy, which is almost always the case. This week I have been buried in Valentine's cookie orders, which has been fun for me, but it has also filled every spare moment in the past few days. Even in the midst of this, I don't want to miss recording the powerful experience I had last Friday. It was so encouraging to me, and I hope it will be encouraging for others to read now and myself to read in the future.
Some good friends of ours live in a neighborhood not too far from our restaurant that has experienced an uptick of violence in the last couple of months. This has included gunshots on a more and more routine basis, usually late at night. A couple of weeks ago, a stray bullet found its way into our friends' home, and while none of them was hit (praise God), it was a rattling incident - especially since the gunshots have continued in subsequent nights and passed into neighbor's houses as well. Their way of living has changed for the foreseeable future.
In the face of these frightening developments, our friends called for prayer. And while they certainly asked for us to all pray on our own, they also organized a prayer meeting at their house and invited their neighbors, as well as police officers that patrol the neighborhood.
Even now, I start to tear up thinking of this room of gathered strangers of all races and income levels joining together to petition the Lord on behalf of our friends and their neighbors. At one point, we laid hands on everyone who lived there. Next, we laid hands on the police officers who have the huge responsibility to serve and protect these particular streets.
We walked the streets in prayer, asking for God's protection for each person living there, asking for God to intervene in the lives of those perpetrating the violence who must feel as if they have no hope, asking for angels to surround the homes, asking for peace and comfort and joy in the midst of the suffering encountered. I was reminded that only light can drive out darkness and only Christ is the true source of light in our world. Instead of fretting about the issue, it was confronted head on in prayer.
Our battles here are not against flesh and blood, but against the spiritual forces of evil. It is so easy to slip into thinking about problems here as things that should be solved here on earth, which distracts us from the larger spiritual issues at play. Joining with others for an hour of real prayer was remarkably empowering, because it reminded me that God is the one who enacts true changes. He moves hearts. He changes minds. He can drive out the darkness, and we are asking him to do so in this particular neighborhood. We can have hope because of who Christ is.
Even now, I pray for these dear people - both the friends and neighbors living in homes that currently do not feel like refuges and also the people who are recklessly endangering lives because they feel no hope in their own lives. We're all so very broken, and I'm praying in hope to see the way that God brings himself glory in a dark situation.