Behind The Curtain

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Flannel shirt, jeans...boots. Are these the things one wears to go say "Hi" to a woman enslaved by sex, working in a brothel? I asked this question, as I stared in the mirror at myself, preparing for that exact encounter, today. It's odd, the things that you think about when you are preparing to step behind a curtain that you know full well you've never stepped behind before. As I was running the comb through my hair, Jesus whispered something to me that made me pause my brush in the middle of strokes...

"Come with me, and see what I see..." 

I did...and it wasn't what I thought. It's never what we think...

As I stepped inside the doors of that brothel, barred and shaded from sunshine, I took in the surroundings. A sitting room...it looked like a room one might sit in while waiting for a doctor's appointment. White walls, a table with business cards, stale flowers,  a couple of chairs. Just ring the bell, and a woman appears at a door, nothing but darkness behind her. She is beautiful, and kind, and smiles. She smiles?

"Hello...what is your name?" My warrior friend asks...

Now, she has a name. She isn't a "cause" or a "social justice issue." She exists..inside a brothel, she has a heart beat, like me. Like a blinking, neon sign, her name is now forever in my mind...and it might not even be her real name. Did she give us her real name or her business name?

"I know her name..." he whispers.

She says she has a baby boy...where? Does her baby stay with a nanny while her body is sold during the day? Does her baby come to work with her, sometimes? All I have to offer her is a cookie, with a note about God's love...

"Jesus...all I see is waves, and wind, and deep, heart ripping out of my chest sorrow. What do I do, Jesus? What do I say?" 

"Eyes on me, love..."

He has me say nothing. No words. Just a smile, and a cookie. I can't speak, anyway. I'm too overwhelmed. I want to sit down and weep, right there, in the middle of that stale, white waiting room. I want to take her in my arms, and hold her, and weep for her, with her...over her. No, there are no words, today...just a smile, and a cookie. I get back in the car, and I ask Him if this is what it means to carry his burden, to suffer alongside him..

"To love me is to love these.."

Yes. I've never felt such a force of his presence as I do in this moment. I'm positive this is where Jesus comes to have church...

I leave the other warriors, who have been doing this longer than me, and I find myself alone in my car, feeling suddenly like an exhausted wanderer. What do I do, now? Do I go back behind that curtain, back to what I know, where I have choices and freedom and...hope?

"I can't do that, Jesus...not after today."

He speaks clearly, then, and the words are so evident that I'm sure he wrote them on my heart with his finger, this very day...

"Tear down the curtain." 

The call is clear. The curtain must come down. It is the Church who has put up a curtain between herself and the broken. She has been lulled to sleep by mediocrity and self fulfillment. She is stirring from her slumber, though, and she is going to rise up in victory once again, as she has done every time in past generations, when she has drifted to sleep. The curtain she has slept behind is going to come down, and when she sees all that is on the other side, she is going to fall on her face, contrite before God and seek his glory, once again.

I wept and I felt compelled to repent...

"Forgive us, Jesus, for seeking things that don't matter, instead of you. Forgive us for packaging your grace and salvation in shiny boxes with bows, as if it is containable, marketable...for sale. Jesus...oh, God. Forgive us. Draw us near, again. You've never left, Jesus, it's us who has wandered off. We've left. Draw us back, Jesus, to our first love. Back to you."

Today, I will never forget.

Today, I stepped on the other side of that curtain, and I see and feel the truth, clearly...

The Church is waking up. The curtain is coming down. The broken are coming home.

Let it start with me, Jesus. 

Let it start with me...

 

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