Awe-Full Opportunity

by | May 25, 2012 | Five Minute Friday


I rest my arm on the back of couch cushions, surrounded by leaders from around the world, listening to their stories. I try to hold back the tears as joy does her work to push back heavy clouds.

“Ten, I have ten kids at home right now,” she says in broken English. Some are her own, most she has collected from the streets of sad circumstance in the Congo. She tells us about how she visits her niece when she is three and discovers she is still not walking. How the parents of this little one separate, go about their lives and leave her behind with aged grandparents.

She hears God say, “how will you live with yourself if you don’t do something for this little one.” So she picks her up, takes her home, raises her as her own. She smiles when she tells us this niece and her daughter are best friends, teenagers now walking in joyful destiny.

Across the room I listen to a church planter talk about how his church reaches urban youth in Chattanooga. How no one else in the city is doing anything to invest in masses of kids who live in abject poverty without hope of pulling out. They scale back from 100 kids to 60 because it’s just not safe to have that many kids with that many needs in one room.

He tears up, looks down and stops silent, tries to stop emotion rising like steam from a well of compassion inside. Says a staff member was jumped by five recently. Beat to an inch of his life in the parking lot of the church. The man has a wife and two small children and just loves Jesus, wants to share the Gospel with the lost. Those offenders didn’t want anything from him, just an opportunity to beat up someone.

Two pastors stand behind me, tell about how they invest in men to be leaders in their respective cities. They share about strategic plans to spread the Gospel message.  Tell about how their plans grow like grapes hanging low on vines tended for years now.

And when we bow to pray and thank God for the food we are about to eat, the tears fall like faucet down my face in the closing of the eyes. The sky cracks open and rains hope over my weary heart. I’ve seen the ways God offers opportunity on a plate to those He trusts. Opportunity that looks risky and hard, uncertain and sacrificial, but transforms beauty multiplied with the single drop of yes.

Linking with Lisa-Jo for Five Minute Friday with the one word prompt: Opportunity and Beholding Glory.


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  1. Barbara Isaac

    oh, what an amazing post. May my heart be stretched to be more like them… thanks so much for your post and lovely writing.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Barbara, me too. I was humbled, hopeful, inspired and settled all in a few minutes of listening to vision. Thanks for following today, great to have you join the community here.

  2. tara // pohlkotte press

    this is the heart of it. the breaking open. the laying low ourselves to lift up one another. wow. this is where i want to be, no matter where in life i am…even if for today its in a car with two kids and a husband on a car trip. i want to do that. give them all i have. this is prayer. this is a blessing in motion. loved this. {also??? that last picture. get out of here! my heart swooned and i just want it to be my window. like honestly. dreamboat.}

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Me too Tara, I want to live in the place, move away from comfortable complacency. And that photo was another from London and I want to live in the neighborhood where I took it some day! Glad you were inspired. Have a great trip with your sweet kids, hope you have a wonderful weekend.

  3. kd sullivan

    The sacrifices of others always inspire me to give up more of me.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Yes, and I always walk away grateful for the way their testimonies inspire me, push me to be more.

  4. Theresa@HeavenlyGlimpses

    This is beautiful. Just a few weeks ago, two women from our church spent three weeks in Uganda and came back to speak about it. As I listened to their interactions with these people and children, tears poured, like a faucet running, down my face. I simply thought, “I guess, God, you have my heart right where you want it.”

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Theresa, I just did an interview for a writing assignement with some women who went to Kenya. I was inspired by their stories too. And yes, we are right where He wants us.

  5. Laura @ Pruning Princesses

    I sub regularly in the inner city. I know stories like your friend in Chattanooga. May heart aches wondering if perhaps these are the darkest corners of the world (in our backyards and most never venture there). Sharing stories spurs us on to keep praying and hoping. Lord give me a heart like these. Thanks Shelly.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Oh wow Laura, what an opportunity. Didn’t know you teach outside of your home. I echo your prayer, yes, a heart like these please.

  6. Audrey Charles

    Thank you for reminding us all what this Christian walk is truly all about. God bless you!

    • Redemption's Beauty

      They inspired me so much I wanted to wrap it all up and bring it home. Thank you.

  7. Tanya Marlow

    This was so beautifully written – an amazing tribute to those diamonds of the faith.
    It is good for me to be raised out of my narcissistic tendencies and remember what it costs to belong to the Saviour. Thank you.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      We all need a little perspective don’t we? Thanks Tanya, always lovely to hear from you.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      And I’m so convicted about the times I don’t even have a drop. Thanks Eileen.

  8. Jody Collins

    ‘a single drop of yes.’ Beautiful, Shelly, beautiful.

  9. Cherry

    Visiting from Faith Filled Friday – and enjoyed my visit. Thanks for sharing the hearts of those who give of themselves to others. Very touching to read.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Cherry, so thrilled you stopped by and left a comment. And I was so humbled by their words, so privileged to be in that room. Really.

  10. Elizabeth

    Beautiful words, yes, but I find myself lost in those photos!

  11. Jennifer Johnson Camp

    What a privilege, to hear those stories — hearts poured out for Him. And the beauty of seeing the opportunity He gives us, right now, to trust what He gives, as we listen and search for Him and see. Thank you so much, Shelly.

  12. pastordt

    Oh so lovely, Shelly. What a unique opportunity you have to hear stories like these. Thanks so much for sharing them with us!

  13. Pam@Writing...Apples of Gold

    So many stories in this world… I look into the faces of strangers sometimes, wondering what is in their hearts, what are the experiences on the pages of their lives. Then I think, what do I really have to share, my life does not intertwine with as many people as someone like yours. But it is all Jesus, isn’t it? Whoever we are, wherever we are, whatever lives come into our own…even if only for a moment’s glance in an airport, or people we know briefly in a temporary job…He somehow shines through us. It’s what I hope happens in whatever stories he gives me to write. Like he glows through those gorgeous flowers in your photos and in the lives of the people you shared with us here.

    Beautiful post as always, Shelly.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Oh, you have something to share, with the grocery store clerk, your neighbor, your co-worker, the woman behind the makeup counter. Travelling goes in spurts for me and most of my days are ordinary but like you say we all have a story to tell, no matter where we go and its worth telling. Trust me, yours is worth sharing.

  14. Michele-Lyn (@lifesurrendered)

    Oh my… God has used these words to pierce deep in my soul, to remember the least of these.. to remember pure and undefiled religion in God’s eyes — to not forget those in need, but offer our selves — our lives.

    Thank you for these words that draw me closer to God.. once again.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      We just learn so much from others. And I am sure your life is an example of how to live to those around you as well Michele. Hope you had a great time at the conference. It was good to connect on twitter!

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