God Moves In

God moves into the dirtiest and most squalid lives, and sets up home.

We climbed the steps from the subway station at Sham Shui Po on Hong Kong’s subway.

The unmoving sticky air hung heavy with the odor of noodles and spicy chicken.

People moved in all directions, except for a beggar. His wheelchair blocked the exit. A fingerless hand held out an empty plastic tub.

A man squatted beside a market stall. Bare feet caked with dirt and black toenails encrusted with grime, they had not seen shoes for a long time.

“Cheap, copy Rolex” shouted a stallholder, his voice barely audible over the noise of traffic. He held out a watch as I walked past.

Cigarette ends, paper, plastic bottles, and four abandoned massage chairs littered the pavement.

This is Hong Kong’s poorest neighborhood. Yet, it is also where my daughter’s college has a campus.

Savannah College of Art and Design adorns this shabby, smelly, and crowded area. The abandoned North Kowloon Magistracy is now classrooms and offices. Students sit in a former courtroom on polished wooden benches facing the lecturer in the dock.

SCAD has a reputation for moving into run down areas and revitalizing them. It is the same in Savannah, Georgia, Disused motels are student residences, and deserted warehouses are high-tech studios.

What SCAD has done in Kowloon and Savannah reminds me of what God does for us.

“I’ll set up my residence in your neighborhood;”  he says, “I won’t avoid or shun you; I’ll stroll through your streets. I’ll be your God; you’ll be my people.”

When our hearts are frayed and needy, God moves in. When our lives are a mess and full of debris, God sets up home. When our our thoughts are dark and dirty, God digs in.

And there, God does what he knows best, he transforms us.

He cleans up our hearts.

He brings hope to our lives.

He revitalizes our thoughts.

He brings new life.

Are you ready to let God move into whatever chaotic and unpleasant situation you are facing?

God longs to move into ramshackle lives and restore them.

God, I’m so thankful you don’t avoid me when things are their ugliest. I invite you to move in and remodel, reshape, and rebuild the run-down areas of my life that are ________________________. Amen.

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  • Have a blessed trip and I know that God is moving, i have seen a lot happening and even a woman with a miracle, she survived a surgery and went home in five days. Originally, two refused to operate, giving her 0% chance to live. So I know He wants people save as well.

  • What a powerful message, Rachel! The descriptions are rich with texture and color that bring me right to the place on the street or in the college you describe. Your words about Jesus coming into the shabbiest place is such an excellent word picture! It’s also true there can be shabby places left in uncleaned corners even after He resides in us. I needed to let an area of ministry die so I could enter a new one. Some of the thoughts, feelings, and experiences of the old one made that corner of my heart pretty shabby, but He has cleared out the debris and new life is there now. Blessings on your day!

  • Shabby areas – oh, the shabby areas He has revealed in my own heart! But how beautiful when the Lord rennovates. Great analogy, Rachel. Years ago I worked in Atlanta for a commercial office furniture manufacturer. I entertained SCAD students several times in our showroom. LOVE that your daughter is a part of such a neat school. Best wishes to her!

  • You have a beautiful way of bringing me right to the scene of your writing. So descriptive. And powerful. Love this – “When our lives are a mess, God moves in.” He sure does! Blessings!

  • Wonderful reflection!
    I grew up in Hong Kong and came to Boston for college 20 years ago. Haven’t gone back for almost 10 years now, but yes, I remember Sham Shui Po. Not the part of the city that I frequently visited, but I would be on a bus passing through. The thing that strikes me about Hong Kong is you can find God in places that you would never expect. In many of these shabby, crowded areas, among layers of signs above the street stalls, you will see a sign with four Chinese words sticking out, reading “God loves the world.” The first four Chinese word in John 3:16. Whenever I saw those signs, I was reminded of God finding us amid our chaos and messiness. He is there, somewhere, always for us.

    • Charlotte, thank you so much for that insight into the signs above the street stalls in Hong Kong. I’ll be on the lookout. So grateful for our God who loves the world.

  • This is absolutely beautiful! Thank you for this perspective and for your beautiful words.


    • Thanks Crystal. I appreciate your encouragement. I so enjoyed writing this post and gaining this perspective on our Lord while half way around the world!

  • What imagery you give today Rachel! I’m sending this article to my friend whose daughter was just accepted to SCAD in Savannah. I know she’ll love this. That He dwells with us is beyond my realm of human understanding. Completely thankful today. Great piece!

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