Have you ever felt that the environment you were in or the people you hung around could hinder your communication with God? I grew up in the “projects” and the “projects” are not comfortable places to live. It is commonplace for one to see spit in the elevator, or a box with a picture and candles of the young man who was shot the night before. One may even be greeted by the young lady who is strung out on crack because one young man decided that he will not live to make an honest living. Such an environment can depress you and even desensitize you as a person.
I remember telling my brother that I would do something to change our community. I said, “Maybe if we could have workshops on community development and pray our community could change.” Then my brother gave me the most surprising response ever. He told me “ forget it! It’s useless; God can’t hear your prayers in this place. It’s a swamp. Just as you can’t get reception in a swamp you can’t get reception here. He later added, “ Besides you can’t clean a swamp and even if you successfully do, you will mess up the Eco-system.” “You will be doing more harm than good.” “Where will all the “swamp animals” live?” He concluded with a passionate plea and said, “you go against prophecy if you do this.” “For Jesus said the poor will always be with you.” “If God puts a man in a certain mindset, and you try to open the mind of that man, you go against God.”
This was discouraging for me to hear from my younger brother and I showed empathy for what seemed be a hopeless situation but I sought the scriptures for advice and was comforted by this passage in Psalms 139:7-12
7. Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
8. If I ascend to heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in Hell, behold, You are there.
9. If I take the wings of the dawn,
If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea,
10. Even there Your hand will lead me,
And Your right hand will lay hold of me.
11. If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me,
And the light around me will be night,”
12. Even the darkness is not dark to You,
And the night is as bright as the day.
Darkness and light are alike to You.
In this Passage, David is writing about how God’s presence has been everywhere in his life and even in places we don’t expect. It is encouraging to me because it shows me that no matter how bad my environment is, that nothing can separate me from the love of God or my ability to communicate with him. It amazes me that Jesus grew up in Nazareth. A place that was so bad that when it was heard the Messiah was from Nazareth, Nathaniel asked “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” And Phillip replied “come and see.” Therefore the question lies before you. Can I get any reception to God in my environment? My challenge for you is to try and see.