Saturday, November 21, 2015

Hearty Compassion & Healthy Boundaries ~ wisdom encouraged by 10-year-old Salomé

Thursday morning, we jumped into the car to take the back route home from therapy. Still laden with heavy morning fog, the sparsely filled parking lot had a haunting look about it.  In a tucked away clearing, the grey outline of a homeless man stooped over and sitting on a stone bench, came into focus.  He looked like an unkempt, grumpy Santa and I'm sorry to say, I hardly noticed him, at first.  But Salomé revived me by answering a noble thought I hadn't had!  "Okay Mommy, you can buy him breakfast, you can talk to him about Jesus and tell him you have eight kids, but you can't introduce him to us!" I had to shake myself free of my cluttered thinking to realize the brave action she was promoting.  So I turned the car in the direction of fast food.

Upon arrival back at the scene, we found a timid young woman offering kindness to the man, through carefully constructed sentences.  'Santa' seemed to disregard her thoughts as he kept to his own topic, which rolled off his tongue in a gruff, demanding manner.  I approached with pancakes, coffee and the works, extra large, with tons of napkins on the side.  As I laid the meal on the stone table before him, I said, "We thought this looked like the perfect moment for a hot breakfast."

The woman brightened, "Oh my!  I was thinking the same thing!"

He proceeded with his pontification while keeping his eyes fixed on the frail Good Samaritan.  I wished to shoo her away as if she were a church mouse and he the villain cat, but instead I stood in silence.  She backed up, possibly seeing this as a perfect opportunity to exit the premises, while my little brood peered up from inside the locked car with their noses just at the base of the passenger window.  I held my ground between them, keeping alert to his every move.

The man stopped talking, pushed his crumpled paper cup from the table's edge and drew the fresh coffee to himself, without acknowledgement to the departing girl or me.  As she passed by, I touched her shoulder and she nodded her head slightly in what felt like solidarity.  When she was safely on her way, I slipped into my driver's seat and off we went.  Salomé reported, with a hint of pleasure on her face, "He's sipping the hot coffee we gave him."

The teachable moments with our children often resonate with my own soul long after the event.  In this case, it is the Syrian refugee situation which comes to mind. You might imagine that as an adoptive mom and follower of Jesus, I'd say, "Fling the doors of our country open, and invite everyone inside!" But I'm cautious with the specific lives that have been entrusted to me.  It's the idea of the airplane oxygen masks.  When in danger, place yours on first, then help the children beside you, then continue to the next person, calmly and with order.  In this careful manner, all will be saved.

When you see the long lines of refugees, does your heart ache?  Of course it does, as does mine.  How can we wisely help these vulnerable people?  Do we have some vague idea that we will build refugee camps here in the U.S.?  Do we hold to an ideal that those people will be fine, once they are safely inside our borders?   There is no omnipotent leader who can restore and heal their lives with the magical golden ticket of citizenship to America as we watch and applaud.  Offering sanctuary, means hard work, with a plan in place.  It also means that we cannot ignore the broiling warfare unleashed upon innocent lives globally.  Tackling this immediate crisis is twofold.

The numbers of refugees around the world is swelling due to the constant battle between good and evil materializing through the atrocities of their fellow countrymen and neighbors.  Thieving murderers kill, torture, and rape, women, men and children, causing them to flee, in the name religious devotion rooted in darkness. As we cautiously screen and receive these displaced citizens of our globe, our united strategy must be to help each individual assimilate to our laws, culture and our communities.  We, the Church, and we, the lovers of humanity, must roll up our sleeves and get to work.  We must be willing to meet each new person with provision, funds, education, friendship and accountability.  We will be their new community, and therefore it necessary that they assimilate into our lifestyle, while we stay the course committed to helping them.  There are many Christian organizations stepping up to this challenge, but they need us to donate our time and our treasures to ensure longterm success.

As we welcome the refugees who have no other choice, we maintain healthy boundaries.  We are not mindless rescuers with no plan.  Serving the needy does not mean risking the safety and wellbeing of our own citizens in the process. We must also protect and defend our freedom to live in peace and posterity in our own land, while supporting the same prospect for them. To do this, our presence in the Middle East is imperative.  A fully engaged, large coalition of likeminded defenders and peacekeepers from every democracy on our planet could defeat ISIS.  As a global humanitarian effort, our resources, creative minds, and funds, should be focused on defending, protecting and securing the civilians who dwell generationally in their own countries.  Love encompasses intellectual and practical plans to raise up a people group from persecution to equality through aide and protection, and to ultimately restore them to their own flourishing country. This includes praying for and funding missionary organizations as well as our military.

The Bible says in Isaiah 33: 7, "Look, their brave men cry aloud in the streets; the envoys of peace weep bitterly.  The highways are deserted, no travelers are on the roads.  The treaty is broken, its witnesses are despised, no one is respected.  The land mourns and wastes away." Our struggles are not a surprise to God.

But God's Word also says this, in verse 2 and 6, "O Lord be gracious to us; we long for you.  Be our strength every morning, our salvation in time of distress... He will be the sure foundation of our times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure."  He is with us.

With God's help and guidance now, in the Syrian refugee crisis, as well as in Paris, Baghdad, Washington D.C. or wherever else needs arise, I pray that we will persevere with love fueled by faith, no matter what is required of us at home or abroad.  We must remember that Satan is our enemy, not the humans who choose to do his dastardly deeds.  May our actions be fueled by the mighty, sacrificial love of Jesus who can and does transform lives.  And, as we do so, may we collectively seek forgiveness and reconciliation fueled by wisdom and purpose, with the goal of restoration and redemption, on the forefront for all.   Hope springs eternal!

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