It's always interesting visiting different cities for each Southern Baptist Convention. Last year I found Indianapolis to be nice, but a little boring. The year before that was in Phoenix, AZ - a beautiful, clean city and hotter than I can explain. This year we're in Nashville. Wow. This is one of those places people come to seek stardom, or simply get into the music business. As Steve and I walked through downtown many of the bars and grills were overflowing, not only with people but also with the sounds of country, bluegrass and americana. We finally settled at a place called Rippy's. So what are my initial thoughts? Honestly, I'm heart-broken. Each block seems to be telling a different story. One street is teeming with tourists and locals, many with bulging wallets waiting to be emptied for food, fun and things frivolous. The street outside our hotel was crowded with a wedding party celebrating one of God's most beautiful gifts. But just one block back we passed others on dark streets sleeping on park benches and inside storefront doorways. They have nothing. It's a picture of the whole world.
So, I'm going to bed (on a pull-out couch, poor me) with all of that in mind. Do those who are homeless know that God will shelter them under his wing if they will turn to him? Have they found that he provides the faith, hope and endurance necessary to persevere through such times (times that are too dark for me to fully comprehend)? I am confident that churches in Nashville are reaching out to those who have nothing with words that can save and hands that feed. I'm thinking about the need to be compassionate, to be involved, to pray, show kindness and not look away from those who are hurting. But I'm also thinking about the wealthy who have so much and yet do not know they stand before God as "wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked." It is too easy to allow prosperity to blind us to our spiritual condition, comfort to numb us to the pain of a broken relationship with God. Both people are in desparate need of God's grace. And it's easy to see it here in Nashville.