It’s as though they’d never heard this before. Their eyes are locked on me and their bodies are leaning in. It’s as though they think the closer they get to my words the sooner it will enter their ears.
I just described the second week of the class I teach at Hope Gardens to the single mothers with children. It is located on a 77-acre property in the foothills of Sylmar. I have just recently become the Interim Program Director at Hope Gardens to go along with my current responsibilities at the Union Rescue Mission.
This is a 10-week class I teach on Christian Basics called “The Essentials”. Week one we got to know each other. These are women who were experiencing homeless with their children. These are women who’ve experiencing tremendous disappointment in life. These are women who don’t have functional family relationships to turn to for guidance and assistance. These are women who have been taken advantage of by people who say they love them. These are women who have tried to ease their pain through means that have exasperated their problems. These are women who desperately need hope for a new direction in life but haven’t been able to find it. They are hoping that maybe it can be found at Hope Gardens.
They are leaning into the truth of our first lesson from Genesis 1-2. They are hearing how God created us to know him, to enjoy him, and that the original design did not include such things as they have experienced in life… suffering, disappointment, anxiety, fear, and abuse.
“God created us, and you, for a specific purpose and if you miss this purpose you miss the point of breathing itself! “ ………………….. I let that line just hang in the room for a few seconds before speaking again.
“God is a relational being who at his core is a lover. Love is the most valuable commodity in existence in the universe. Lovers long for recipients to give their love to and God chose you and me. If you don’t know the depths of God’s love you will never experience deep loving relationships with others and you will miss the reason you exist. You will end up seeking and settling for weak things that can never satisfy the innate longing on your soul that the Creator/Manufacturer made you to function on LOVE.”
The second point is profound to their thinking… “You were made image of God.” You, and me, humans… we bear the image of the Powerful and loving creator… Human life began on the last day of creation so that when he opened his eyes that were newly formed they would see the entire universe created by a loving God who had just completed his masterpiece of the entire creation… Man himself… The only thing in the entire creation that bore his own image!
“When God breathed life into you at conception you became the master’s masterpiece and the love interest of the Creator himself! You are important to him. You are extremely valuable and full of potential for an amazing life of receiving love from God and giving it to others. You have a divine destiny, not to experience homelessness… but to experience love, and that single truth will be able to heal you, help you, and propel your life in a completely new direction. God’s Love spells Hope!
“How can this be? I don’t feel worthy of such love”, they say. “I’m not lovable. I’m deeply broken” is the response you will hear.
“Lies… you’ve been told lies, I said. People have told you hurtful lies about how hopeless you are and what a loser you have become. People have told you happy thoughts about how you can find solutions inside yourself but these quickly prove to you to be simply vain philosophies that are more lies.”
“God who sees your deep brokenness but his perfect love is oceans deeper than any brokenness and moral decadence you could possibly have succumbed to in your life. In fact, you are much more broken than you know… yet God loves you much more than you could even imagine.”
One woman can’t wait for the next point and says, “How can we get this love?”
In a tender voice I respond, “It’s so rich it deserves ten weeks to unpack. Come back next week as we are out of time for today.” They leave with hearts steps closer to the God who loves them.
In the weeks to come they will learn that God created them with dominion to do life with him and responsibility to be in submission to him. They will learn how this wonderful divine design went horribly wrong because we abused the wonderful and dangerous gift of moral freedom to live independently from God. They will learn the amazing story of what God has done to solve this great dilemma and the process of how he will transform and redeem all that has been destroyed.
Please be in prayer the ladies at Hope Gardens and our journey into the Essentials of Christianity… what it means to be loved by God so we can love him back and love others as ourselves. Pray for their surrender to a new King, that they would say “I do” to a new lover, that they would say “I repent” to a Just Judge, that they would say “I trust you” to a loving savior. Please pray for life transformation through Jesus Christ our Lord. Pray for the Hope of Hope Gardens to heal their hurting hearts.
Pray that, even though they don’t have a home, that they will respond to the Heavenly Father who wants to adopt them and give them a real home where they are unconditionally loved!
– Pastor Dan
P.S. Here's a promo video for Hope Gardens: