The passage of Scripture that has guided me for many years now has been Isaiah 58…
"6 "Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe him,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.
9 Then you will call, and the LORD will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
"If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.
11 The LORD will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail.
12 Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins
and will raise up the age-old foundations;
you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,
Restorer of Streets with Dwellings…" (NIV)
In a day that sees many people burn out quickly while seeking out their own dreams, falling fast and hard in an effort to gain their own potential, this passage burns counter-culture like a wildfire. It declares boldly that reaching out to the oppressed and hungry and naked will bring healing. Such a concept should be banned! When we're empty, or when we are in need of caring for ourselves, we simply cannot care for another hurting soul, another face on the TV, another cause, another day in the faith. We can hardly make sense of our own lives, let alone 6.5 billion people on the face of the planet.
Truthfully we cannot do it all.
But that's it in a nutshell.
In the context of Scripture, we were never meant to do it alone. We were never meant to do everything, be everything and solve everything. We are called to feed, clothe, free, and love. Tough as it may be to conceptualize a powerful Spirit working through us, He is the only way we can give as we are being asked of we when feel as empty as the souls we are reaching out to. But working He is, not only to empower us to reach out to the enslaved and downtrodden, but He is working furiously within ourselves to love us, heal us, strengthen us and deliver us. On days when we couldn't care less about taking another breath, He works steadily on. The Spirit of the God of the universe… in us.
We cannot fill ourselves, we cannot heal ourselves, and we cannot satisfy ourselves. These are God's roles. And He delights in them. So as we put our hands to the plows, remember that in the strain of giving and the pain of being overwhelmed, we are being cared for by the only One who ever could. And in our obedience, "our healing shall quickly appear".
Now what God means by the word quickly is for another post…