Where do you find God? My friend Arloa, who ministers to and lives among the poor on Chicago’s west side, says she meets God in the presence of the poor. She notes that Psalm 34 says that God is close to the broke hearted, so if you want to find God, you go to where the broken hearted are. And she finds that many of the homeless, addicted, abused people who receive her care are brokenhearted—and she’s experienced the presence of God in their midst.
Arloa—founder and executive director of Breakthrough Urban Ministries—is an extraordinary person, in my estimation. She makes me examine my calling with fear and trembling. (You can read an article I wrote about her a few years ago here).
God has called her to live in the city, to minister to the poor. At this point, he’s not calling me to do the same. But he is calling me to love my neighbor, to make a difference, to not turn an indifferent ear to the cries of the poor and broken hearted.
We all want to grow spiritually, to get close to God. After all, what is the point of spiritual growth? Where does our “walk with God” take us? What does God want? Did he just want us to love him, like children? You could make a case for that, I suppose; but I have always thought that there has got to be more to faith than just obeying the rules.
Long ago, other people asked that same question. What matters? What should our lives be about if we are following God? God answered through the prophet Micah: “He has shown all you people what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8).
When I first heard this verse, I was in my early 20s, coming back into the church after a few years of staying away, wrapped up in myself and my doubts. Even with all the memorizing and studying of my childhood, I didn’t remember hearing Micah’s words. Its simplicity stirred me. God, through the words of a minor prophet, invited me away from legalism and guilt into a simple compassion.
We don’t act justly to earn God’s favor. We can’t buy his love with backpacks or other donations. But we act justly when we are walk humbly with God. We realize we’ve been given much, and it makes us want to share that love with others.
The brokenhearted are not just living in the city—they are all around you. Maybe you know someone who is dealing with serious illness, unemployment, financial stress. They need you to draw near, to act justly, to love mercy, to walk with them. That is the heart of simple compassion.
Keri Wyatt Kent is the author of several books including Rest: Living in Sabbath Simplicity and her most recent release Simple Compassion. She is a sought-after retreat leader and speaker. She and her husband, Scot, live with their son and daughter in Illinois. Learn more about Keri's ministry at www.keriwyattkent.com.