In late August, during the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, I traveled to New Orleans to lead a special "Just Give Me Jesus" women's conference. My visit was prompted by an invitation from the wives of pastors across the city and region.
When I arrived in New Orleans, I went straight from the airport to a tour of St. Bernard's Parish and the Lower Ninth Ward, some of the city's most devastated areas. As we drove through the neighborhoods, I realized it would take years to clean up the wreckage on the outside. But, I thought to myself, Jesus could clean up and change people on the inside in an instant. And that is exactly why I went to New Orleans—to give out that good news to so many people who are hurting and homeless and lost.
One of the most sobering sites I saw that anniversary week was the New Orleans Convention Center. The last time I saw it was on my TV screen in the days following the storm. The news videos showed hundreds of people lining up because they had been told they would find help there. As I watched the people wait and wait, so hot and hungry, so thirsty, and so hopeless, I wanted to take them food and water myself. I wanted to put my arms around them to tell them that they were not forgotten—that somebody really cares.
What came to my mind was a vision of God, seated on His throne in the center of heaven, looking out at the sea of humanity all around the world—a humanity that was thirsty for living water, starving for the bread of life. And in my mind I saw God come down from His throne and step into the body of a little baby, who grew into a man who would die on a Roman cross—all because He saw the hunger and thirst of desperate people like you and me.
As you drive through New Orleans, you see X's on many of the houses. Some are marked TFW, meaning "toxic flood waste." These were homes or businesses that were filled with sewage or oil spills or other dangerous toxins. When you see all the TFW's scrawled across the buildings, you can't help but wonder who will clean it up, or whether the deadly toxin can ever be removed.
By God's grace, we don't have to wonder if the deadly toxin of sin in our own lives can be removed. Jesus came down to dwell among us and shed His own blood so the toxin of sin could be cleansed from our hearts and lives, so that we might have hope and peace. So that we can know one day we will finally be at home, in our real home, with Him.
Copyright © 2006 by the author or Christianity Today/Today's Christian magazine.
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