Sunday, October 14, 2012

It's Hard to Love the Unlovely


Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers,
 
for by so doing some people have shown hospitality 
to angels without knowing it.
Hebrews 13:2

It's Sunday afternoon.

We went to church this morning and heard a great message.  I left there with a simple challenge that I've heard often.  "Who am I going to be when I am not at church?"

You've heard that same message, I'm sure.

Are we the same person Monday-Saturday as we are on Sunday morning?

You know, it's easy to sit in a church, hear a message on service, nod your head, & then rush out to our lunch plans.

It's easy to give a few dollars to the homeless man on the corner selling a newspaper.  (Or it's even easier to pretend that you don't see him.)

And it's easier to go through a drive-thru and purchase a meal for a beggar.

"He who is generous will be blessed, for he gives some of his food to the poor."
Proverbs 22:9

But, it's hard to love the unlovely.  It's hard to make relationships with those who are homeless.  It's challenging.  It's emotionally draining.  Why get involved when the chances of them "succeeding" is extremely low?  (I hope your heart is telling you that you'd do it b/c that's what Jesus would do.  But, is your head aligned with your heart?)

What if you receive a call from a man who is needing a hot, fresh shower and a place to do laundry?

Do you bring him into your home?  What about your own privacy?  What about your kids?  What about your "Sabbath" with your family?  What about your stuff?  What about....what about....what about??!!

For the sake of privacy, I will not share his name, but I'd like to tell you a story about "J".  Our family has known "J" for over a year now.  My husband met him while our son, Josiah, was passing out sleeping bags to the homeless last December.  "J" is not your average (if there is an average) homeless man.  He has his master's degree, ran his own business, and then fell into some very difficult times.  He has worked alongside a ministry that has helped others who are without a home.

Our children love him.  He is a dark, African American man that stands over 6ft tall and is as slender as can be.  I describe him for you because our children see him as a friend.  In a small way, he has become part of our family.  I want you to see him as part of our family and not just a homeless man.

I have had my own hesitations about letting him into our home.  I have questioned and entertained all the "what ifs".  But, in reality, I know "J".  Do I trust him?  No, not completely and I will stand on my guard.

After much discussion and a few phone calls, Sergio and I decide that it's okay for him to join our family today.  He needed a shower, a place to do laundry, a decent meal, & just a place to see family in action.

"Do not conform to the pattern of this world,
but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will
be able to test and approve what God's will is-
his good, pleasing and perfect will."
Romans 12:2


There's a fine line between being wise and being a fool.

"Be very careful, then, how you live-not as unwise but as wise,
making the most of every opportunity, because
the days are evil.  Therefore do not be foolish, 
but understand what the Lord's will is."
Ephesians 5:15-17

As soon as Sergio brought "J" over, our son, Eliah, greeted him with the warmest greeting.  "Hi Mr. "J"!  Want to play catch with me?"

While "J" took his first, hot shower in days, I sat downstairs watching our kids play football in the front yard. They don't know what it's like to live a hard life.  I'm not even sure that I can grasp it myself.  I've lived without utilities growing up, lived off of welfare & food stamps, but my family always had a roof over our heads.  I've always had someone to love & someone to love me back.  I've never walked this earth alone, cold, and hungry.

I watched Josiah outside playing with the neighbor boys and I'm grateful for his heart.  If he wouldn't have started Operation Sleep Tight, I'm not sure if we would know "J" or the many others that we've come to love.

"J" is more than just a homeless man.  He is a professional landscaper.  He is a college graduate.  He is a friend.  He is a brother.  And he is part of our family.

I am grateful for "J".  He reminded me today of Jesus.  If I put up a strong wall between my family & the world, I would miss opportunities to share Christ's love with others.  I would raise my children to only love people "like us".  And I would not relinquish control of my day to the Lord.  Essentially, I would live my day for only me.

It was hard to see "J" leave tonight.  Our kids rushed out of their beds to tell him goodbye.  They love him with a deep, genuine love that I wish I knew.  I want to be more childlike in my love with less fear & more joy.

As my husband was getting some food for him to take, I looked around my pantry for things that didn't need silverware or electricity.  We threw in a few apples, bananas, crackers, & fruit bars.  He has a place to stay tonight.  It's an empty house that was provided in return that he keep watch over it.  It has no utilities & I'm not sure if it has furniture.

It's a hard life.

My heart hurts for "J".

Just like I tell my kids on a daily basis, "God gave you hands to serve and a heart to love."  I pray that I, too, can remember this and live it out.

For Monday is coming around the corner & I want to worship Jesus the same on Mondays as I do Sundays.

"Now this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly,
and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 
Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart,
not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God
loves a cheerful giver.  And God is able to
make all grace abound to you, so that always
having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance
for every good deed.
2 Corinthians 9:6-8








1 comment:

  1. Sweet friend...so love your heart. It's hard to do what you're describing, and I need to do it more. But this was a great reminder, gently delivered.

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