Friday, April 15, 2011

Friday Reflections ~ Excerpts

I told myself, "No more. Wait awhile." But, I cannot convince myself to stop reading missionary biographies and accounts for too long. Besides, it has been more than several months since last I picked one up.

The selection? The Cross and the Switchblade by David Wilkerson.
Oh my...upon reading the first chapter, the excitement washed over me again! Now, these are the stories that I love to hear - stories where the Spirit of the Lord is triumphant in the darkest of places! David Wilkerson records a moving account of the Lord's particular call on his life, during his early years as a husband and father, to reach the teenagers on the streets of New York. These were teenagers involved in violent, fighting gangs, homosexual gangs, Lesbian gangs, sadist gangs, and are all enslaved to pornography, heroin, various narcotics, obscene sexual acts, prostitution, etc.
I'm not yet done with this book, but I'm savoring every chapter of this incredibly miraculous story that occurred on the streets of New York about 50 years ago.

"Angelo," I said to him one day as were walking down a Harlem street together, "what would you say was the greatest problem have in this city?"
"Lonesomeness," said Angelo quickly.
It was a strange answer; lonesomeness in a city of eight million people. But Angelo said the feeling came because nobody love you, and that all of his friends in the gangs were basically very lonely boys. The more I came to know New York the more I grew certain that Angelo was right.
(pg 48)

Strangest of all, they were afraid that something...might make them cry. Bit by bit I came to realize the horror these young people have of tears.
What is it about tears that should be so terrifying? I asked them again and again, and each time got the impression that tears to them were a sign of softness, of weakness and childishness in a harsh world where only the tough survive. Yet I knew from my work in the church how important a role tears play in making a man whole. I think I could almost put it down as a rule that the touch of God is marked by tears. When finally we let the Holy Spirit into our innermost sanctuary, the reaction is to cry. I have seen it happen again and again. Deep soul-shaking tears, weeping rather than crying. It comes when that last barrier is down and you surrender yourself to health and to wholeness.
And when it does come, it ushers forth such a new personality that, from the days of Christ on, the experience has been spoken of as a birth. "You must be born again," said Jesus. And the paradox is this: at the heart of this newborn personality is joy; yet the joy is ushered in by tears.
What instinct was it that told these boys and girls they might have to cry if they came into contact with God? They had their own way of expressing this fear, of course. I paid return visits to the gangs I had met, the Rebels and the GGI's, the Chaplains and the Mau Maus, inviting them to the rally, and everywhere it was the same. "You're not going to bug me, preacher. You're not going to get me bawling."
Everywhere the same fear of the unknown, the same clinging to the familiar no matter how wretched, the same resistance to change.
(pg 67-68)

The enemy lurked in the social conditions that make up the slums of New York, ready to grab lonesome and love-starved boys. He held out easy promises of security and freedom, of happiness and of retribution. He called his promises by innocent names: Clubs (not murderous gangs); Pot (not narcotics); Fish-Jumps (not an anger-filled, unsatisfying sex stimulation); and Jitterbugging (not a desperate fight to death). He built in his victims personalities that were almost impossible to reach. He threw around these boys a walk of thick, protective hardness; he made them proud of being hard.
Against his strength, I considered my own weakness. I had none of the usual weapons. I had no experience. I had no money. I had no organizations backing me. I was afraid of the fight.
...Perhaps there was a curious paradox in my lack of strength. Perhaps in this very weakness lay a kind of power, because I knew absolutely that I could not depend upon myself....perhaps God would choose just such a palpably ill-equipped person as I, so that the work from the very start would depend on Him alone. "Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts."
(pg 52, 54)


Nolan said...

When I visited New York I wondered what a ministry in a city like that would look like. It's definitely a completely different environment. I thought it was interesting how the quote you shared described tears being seen as a weakness especially among gang groups, a culture of appearing to be strong in order to survive. The love of God reaches out to all cultures!