A little over a year ago, I walked through a recently vacated home located at 109 S. 32ndStreet. I was told to go inside and “dream big.” Now, on most occasions, my idea of “dream big” ends up in a file folder somewhere in my desk only to be pulled out for a good laugh followed by a, “What the heck was I thinking!” However, this time was different. I knew after walking through that large, eight-bedroom house what it needed to be. What God had predestined it to become. That was June of 2012, and just three short months later, this “dream file”, sitting in a desk, became a reality. A reality that would shake my world, and daily push me closer, and closer to the cross.
I had no hesitancies about starting a home for women and moms seeking to live lives free from addiction. None. God had been working in my heart two years prior, growing in me a desire to see redemption in the lives of women in corrections and single mothers regaining custody of their children. It was a privilege for me to participate in His good work. However, I had no idea He would lead me to move in, make it my home, and tell me to saturate myself in the lives of these women, their children, and do this thing we call the Hannah House. Things just got personal.
In many ways, living in the Hannah House has broken me, and when I say, broken me, I mean it has done something beautiful and completely necessary. It’s stripped me of any sense of control I thought I had. It’s given a whole new meaning to the word surrender, and it reminds me that God is sovereign and I am not. I could tell you stories of great joys we’ve experienced, and I could also share with you stories of incredible heartbreak. I can testify that the powers of this world are great, powerful, and consuming. Their forces often leave warriors weary and weak. Yet, when I think about the Hannah House, the first thing that comes to mind isn’t devastation, it’s redemption. Living here has only affirmed to me that absolutely nothing is too far past the point of saving. As cliché as that may sound, there is always hope. Light does defeat darkness, joy does conquer sorrow, and when we kneel before the cross, completely and utterly broken, we do win in Christ.
The Hannah House pushes me to back to the cross everyday. It’s a push that I am grateful for. To the outside world, the Hannah House probably doesn’t look too promising. We don’t have a program we follow and we don’t have mandatory classes that our ladies must attend. We aren’t staffed 24/7, and we don’t have caseworkers assisting each lady that lives here. Yet we are not abandoned or forgotten. God has Hannah House where he wants it. Even when it looks messy, chaotic, and completely dysfunctional to the outside world (and me at times), I know that it has been laid before a King completely capable of managing it. It’s been predestined, it has purpose, and it is part of a promise that says, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” It’s that promise that brings me back to the cross. Sometimes I go there in great joy, and sometimes it’s heartbreaking and a wearisome task. However, regardless of how I get there, it is where I find life. I’m reminded that this house, the women, and the children do not belong to me. I’m simply called to love, serve, and defend them. They belong to a Savior that loves them far more than I ever could, and that’s a good thing. The cross reminds me that as a servant of the Most High God, I am to come before Him open handed, surrendering all things for His glory. And it’s at that same cross I’m reminded of my own rebellious heart. A heart that apart from the work of Jesus, is completely self-centered and incapable to ever choose Christ.
I’m not sure how to end this. Other than I still sometimes wonder what the heck we are doing here over at 109 S. 32ndStreet. All I know is, it’s not overly complicated. It’s doing life, it’s being in community, it’s loving God and loving our neighbor. Maybe it’s as simple as Jesus saying, “If you love Me, feed my sheep.”