At the Centre

by Marc Damour

Marc with a friend in the community of Kafubu Block, Zambia.

Marc with a friend in the community of Kafubu Block, Zambia.

Marc has been a volunteer with Hands at Work since 2007. From Calgary, Canada, he is currently based at the Hub in South Africa where he serves as Project Support Leader. As a long term volunteer, Marc has experienced first-hand the trials and stirrings of living in a growing Christ-centred community with a focus to serve the most vulnerable.

We stand together as Hands at Work in expectation of what God will do in and through us in 2014. Each year begins with sharing a Watch Word that guides us. This year’s verse is Revelation 3:8, ‘I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.’ I’ve been humbled, encouraged, and challenged by our community’s eagerness to see their lives transformed and their willingness to stare into their weaknesses and be vulnerable. We’re full of flaws, but there is something special happening among us. We are wrestling with how to live a Christ-centred life. This is tough for me, because for Christ to be at the centre, I can’t be. Being so accustomed to being at the centre of my own life, I can scarcely understand what it means not to be.

With me at the centre I have two impulses. The first is to try to control as much as I can. The second is to erase myself, giving into despair – not seeing myself as worthy of love and respect. In both I am at the centre, in the first trusting in my strengths and capacities and in the second focused upon my inadequacies or my inabilities.

In this muddled mess, I’m hurting others and myself, and I can begin to see that surrendering the centre could be a gift. But I don’t know how to do it.

So I cling to this good news: the One who created me, who promised to be faithful to His people and bless the entire world, fulfilled that promise in Christ and freed His children from bondage, including me from bondage to my self-centredness. 

He invites me to step out of the centre, not giving up in despair, but surrendering in hope: that I may turn and be healed and experience, understand, and witness to His love and acceptance. But surrendering means losing control, and losing control means living with the risk and pain inherent in becoming vulnerable.

The Hands at Work community in South Africa being introduced to the 2014 WatchWord.

The Hands at Work community in South Africa being introduced to the 2014 WatchWord.

But it is by my very vulnerability and limitations that I gain a deeper understanding of the gift of relationships and community. I hate it when I don’t get my way, and I’m afraid of getting hurt. But in being honest and vulnerable, we help others to feel safe enough to do the same. Scary as it may be, it is only in community that we can do this – where we learn and persevere together and where we find healing. Community gives substance to this good news.

Later in Revelations, John relays the words of Christ asking the church to recognise their vulnerability and need for healing, and to be open to accept the gifts He has for them, particularly Himself: ‘Here I am!  I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me’ (Rev 3:20).  I have experienced the presence of this Jesus who desires to be with us, who shows us His love, and who, in this intimacy, asks us to lay our will down for His. Despite experiencing this intimacy, I still struggle to surrender. But it is the presence of my struggle which makes the hope I have in Christ all the more significant.