A Declaration for the North Highland Community
Declare – to make known formally or officially; to make known as a determination
If you have seen the Columbus news today then you have probably seen what has been happening in the North Highland community. The best word to describe it is, chaos. Death, anger, hysteria, you name it and it has been here on our streets today. As I have watched all of this swirling around me today, my heart has broken. But amidst the heartbreak has come something deeper and stronger, and that is a need to declare. There are times when the Lord reveals things to your heart and those things are meant to be kept in secret, and then there are times where He instructs, “What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the rooftops” (Matthew 10:27). Today is the day for the latter.
Shortly after our family moved into the neighborhood (somewhere around year 2), I was reading through the book of Isaiah. I would very often read Isaiah 61 in order to remind myself of why we lived in the neighborhood and to encourage myself according to God’s word. But this particular night I felt a desire to go back one chapter and start my reading in Isaiah 60. As I was reading, the Word truly became living and active and with each verse the Lord whispered a promise in my spirit about what His plans were for the North Highland community. I wrote them all down that night and called them the “12 Promises for Highland”. At that time in our ministry we were still very unsure of whether or not Highland Community Church would be here one more day or ten more years. So the fact that God was making these very BIG promises that were also very specific was beyond my comprehension. But despite that, I wrote them all down and have held tightly to each promise for the last ten years. Until last year I have never shared any of those promises with another person other than my husband, Rob. Last year I shared one of those promises with the leaders at our church and today I will share, or rather, declare another one.
Before going further l want to be very clear about my intentions. Recently the North Highland neighborhood has had a lot of unrest. Over the last 12 years there have been seasons of calm and seasons of unrest; this is most certainly a season of unrest. But running alongside of all of that the Lord has also been stirring in my Spirit a compelling to start making some public declarations regarding the North Highland community. Within the last year a couple things have become VERY clear to me. The first being that my purpose for living in North Highland has very little to do with community development. I thought it did for the first several years, but overtime it has become abundantly clear that my purpose for living in North Highland is the following:
1) To intercede for this community. To plead God’s mercy and His favor over each person that lives in this community. And that at its foundation, my intercession would flow from a great faith in a great God. Who, as it says in Romans, “Can bring life from the dead and call things into being that which did not previously exist.” The belief in God’s power to fulfill the 12 promises requires that type of faith.
2) To truly learn what it means to wrap flesh and blood around the commandment to love my neighbor as myself. If you grew up in church (or really just in the Bible Belt) than you have probably heard that commandment your whole life. Most of us have heard that statement for so long that is has completely lost all meaning to us. But 12 years of living here in North Highland has forced me to get beyond the familiarity of that statement and try to figure out what in the world that really looks like at its core. I still don’t fully know the answer to that, but I do know this, to love my neighbor as myself is not simple, it’s complicated. To love my neighbor as myself is not clean, it’s very, very messy. But to love my neighbor as myself is also very powerful, because in those moments when I am truly loving my neighbor as myself, I am actually causing the Word to become flesh and bringing the reality of the Kingdom of Heaven here to earth. In order to love my neighbor as myself, I must learn to intercede; and in order to intercede, I must begin loving my neighbor as myself. Without prayer there is no power, and without love for my neighbor there is no Word becoming flesh. Both are mandatory for true gospel living.
As the Lord has been developing these qualities in me, my faith has been strengthened as well. I’ve seen Him take nothing and make something beautiful out of it. I’ve seen him use the weak to shame the strong. I have seen him use the uneducated to shame the wise. I believe every promise he spoke ten years ago and I will live the rest of my life interceding for this neighborhood until each promise is fulfilled.
In closing, I publicly declare Promise #9 over the North Highland community today:
– Violence and destruction will be removed from North Highland and in its place will be salvation and praise.
“Violence will not be heard again in your land, nor devastation or destruction within your borders; but you will call your walls salvation and your gates praise.” Isaiah 60:18
I, the Lord, will bring it all to pass at the right time.” Isaiah 60:22