The Potter’s House

Each summer, about 150 people from our church go and hang out with about 200 men who are recovering alcoholics and drug addicts at The Potter’s House. It is a place of healing, where men go to find the hope that Christ brings in order to reclaim their lives from addiction. We grill out and have a pot luck…we are Baptists after all. Then the band and choir lead a time of worship, ending with a short message and testimony. We went last year to minister to them, and found instead that they ministered to us.
When I looked out tonight from the improvised stage, I saw brothers, sons, fathers, and uncles. I was aware that each man comes from a family and that his addiction touches not only his life, but the lives of many others. It is the ripple effect in action. So when one of these men voluntarily commits himself for a year or sometimes two, it is a significant sacrifice on his part as well as the part of his family. The stories here are as varied as the men who tell them. The ages range from young to old, but the pain they have lived through is evident on their faces when they sit down to chat. With clear eyes and genuine humility at the circumstances which brought them here, they talk and it is deeply moving. They are weak and broken…many of them at the end of the road, just trying to find freedom.
Let me tell you, when weak and broken people worship, the heavens open up. I looked out and saw hands raised, some tears flowing as we all sang a cappella, these words:
“I’ll stand, with arms raised and heart abandoned. In awe of The One who gave it all. I’ll stand, my soul Lord to you surrendered, all I am is yours. So what can I say? And what can I do? But offer this heart, oh God, completely to you.”
There are no words to describe that moment. It is as if we reached out and touched the hem of his garment…the power that flowed into us corporately, as we sang, was tangible. Lives that had been hemorrhaging stood, and felt his healing power. The air was thick with the presence of God…an awe-filled silence covered us like a blanket. I could almost hear him asking, “Who touched me?”
Did you ever wonder why he asked that question in the story of the woman in the crowd? I have found that when Jesus asks a question, it is not because he doesn’t know the answer. He is God after all. He knows everything. Whenever he asks us, I think the real point is for us to stop and take note. Who reached out in desperation, believing that I could heal? Who felt my power flow into them? When he asks us, we have to reflect on what just happened. We have to stop to think and possibly see the truth, which is that he pours out healing on brokenness. He loves a surrendered life. When we are at our weakest place, he is the strongest. It is as if he is really saying, “YOU touched me. You who thought you could not reach me because of your past. You who thought I had given up on you. You who never believed I could set you free. You touched ME.” It is a divine exchange…our worship for his presence. We join with him in that place and the result is breathtaking.
When the music resumes, gratitude for the grace-moment overflows. The tears of thankfulness spring up in the eyes of strong men turned humble. All in attendance are unified by the music. It is a gift, which brings beauty and a sweet spirit to the gathering. We are bonded now. Everyone who felt it…we are like family joined by a heavenly cord. When we finish there is a peace, and the load is lighter than when we began. Hearts are rejoicing. Smiles and laughter break out as we say good-bye. We each bask in the glow of a precious instant in the secret place.

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