Tuesday, October 19, 2010

My City

“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth." (Acts 1:8 NASB)

I grew up in Hot Springs just a few blocks from downtown. My mother loved to walk, and we’d often stroll through the heart of the city. Downtown Central Avenue was the heart of commerce back then, featuring all the big stores like Sears, J.C. Penny, Walgreens, Kress and many others. All the businesses had yet to undertake the great exodus to Hot Springs Mall, and a different vibe filled that area of the city. We’d often walk the Promenade which was vibrant. Hot Springs had a large pigeon population then, and many people would sit on the benches and just feed the birds. Elderly men actually sat at the tables with checkerboards and played checkers. After a walk and some shopping, we’d stop at the diner inside Kress and have a meal.

Things have certainly changed. I am glad to see downtown still has life. I took a walk from the fountain in front of the old Majestic Hotel all the way down to the old Malco theatre this past Saturday night. People filled the sidewalks and the downtown breathed with health and vitality. It’s different now, but definitely alive.

Yesterday, I walked the Promenade before heading to class, and it has changed, too. It’s mostly deserted now, and strangely so for me since the pigeons and any reminder of them are long gone. I passed a few people, but it seems for the most part, the Promenade is some sort of Hot Springs anachronism. As I got to the end, I turned onto Fountain Street and started to walk back towards Bathhouse Row. A wall runs alongside the sidewalk there, and I glanced up at it in memory. My mother used to lift me up on that wall and hold my hand as we walked that same walk many years ago.

I thought to myself, “You ought to hop up on that wall for old time’s sake and walk it again.” The pragmatic adult inside me said, “That’s preposterous.” I ignored that part of me and mounted the wall and walked it to the end. Of course I’m much taller now and don’t need my mother to hold my hand to keep my balance, but it sure brought back some good memories.

I tried to drink in every aspect of downtown on that walk. I listened to the sounds of traffic that bled through the soft music on the headphones of my ipod. I stared up at the heights of the Arlington and the Medical Arts Building. I watched the steam rising from the hot springs. I breathed in the aroma of the magnolia trees. I was glad to see many people taking in the sights of downtown. It’s different, but it’s still the same. More than anything, it’s my city, and I love it.

The thing God impressed on me on both walks was that he has put me here for a reason. I thought of Christ’s commission to his disciples in Acts 1:8 and how he told them they would first be his witnesses in Jerusalem, the city where they were all at during that time. My deepest concern is that many times we have forsaken our Jerusalem in order to be witnesses “to the end of the earth.” I’m not saying we should desert our foreign mission efforts, but I am saying that Hot Springs, Arkansas is a wide open mission field. It is filled with people who desperately need the Gospel. I have no doubt my mission is here and I pray I have the boldness to fulfill that mission according to God’s plan. This is my city, and my Savior has called me to preach his message in this place. Where is he calling you to go, and what is he asking you to do today?


1 comment:

  1. Very Good. I come from a very small community in southern Ohio. Our county seat is McArthur. God challenged me as a very young Christian to witness to every one in that village of about 2000 people. It took me a little more than two weeks each evening after work of knocking on every door and giving them my testamony. I shall be forever grateful that I accepted that challenge; forty years later I am still telling His story in my words and life.