Oh, yes, I know that Atlanta is filled with churches. Small, medium, and mega ones. While searching with my eyes, I thought of places such as First Baptist, Mt. Paran, North Point Community, and Passion. But where were the churches here in the very heart of the city? Had all moved out and away? Or were they there and had just been consumed by all the towering buildings. And then, after miles of searching, there it was. Unable to take a shot with my camera, I captured the startling and unforeseen picture in my heart: a small, weathered church building tucked unpretentiously within the shadow of Grady Memorial Hospital -- smack-dab downtown.
Simply known as "Grady," it's the largest hospital in the state of Georgia and the public hospital for the city of Atlanta, serving a large number of her low-income patients. But it has also boasted a few more prominent subjects: Margaret Mitchell, author of Gone With the Wind, died there after being hit by a drunk driver. The Godfather of Soul, James Brown, also saw his final days there. And supermodel Niki Taylor entered its level 1 trauma center after being in a car accident and underwent 50 surgeries. Grady also takes its place historically as the current facility was built as a segregated institution -- and remained that way for years.
So, how appropriate that this little worn, unassuming church would be resting in her wings. But more importantly, how befitting that hanging in bold blue letters -- (they may even have been neon!) -- high across the steeple, which was still midget to its surroundings, were the life giving words, "JESUS SAVES." How could I not be affected by the stark irony of it all?
My mind went back to my devotional some miles back now. I was reading of St. Francis of Assisi, a man who gave up incredible means and affluence to follow God in abject poverty. Who at one time found the sight of lepers so detestable that he would go miles out of his way to avoid them and then still hold his nose only to later embrace and kiss them. And these were the words I had read and the prayer I had prayed: "You alone can cut through the chorus of voices that threatens to deafen my soul with empty promises and false hopes. Your words alone can make my soul burn within me. Speak to me." Indeed, He had.
I bless you, little church, as you sit among the indigent and poverty-stricken and offer true hope. I am convicted and moved by your example.
Just an ordinary moment...