Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Please Let Them In

One of my favorite refugees
My husband was in Europe when the Paris attacks occurred last Friday. He had been in Lisbon, Portugal for business meetings. His travel route took him through Paris. 

This isn’t the first time we have been separated during a terrorist attack. On September 11, 2001, my husband was in Boston when the attacks in our own country took place. He had just flown into the airport each terrorist originated from. It took almost a week and a long drive to Detroit to find an open airport for him to get home. It was a scary week, made bearable only because of neighbors who loved us well. Those days are burned into my memory.

I understand fear. I spent most of my life in fear, worrying about all the things, big and little that life throws at us. I have had melanoma twice. The first time when our daughter was one year old. I understand fear.

But Jesus has shown me a better way. For I have not given you a spirit of fear but of power and of love and of sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7)

I have lived into fear. I understand fear. But I have found a better way and it is the way of trusting Jesus. Of living his words. (The Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5-7).

I choose to listen to Jesus, to trust Jesus, to obey his words. Some days I do all this better than others, but always it is my desire to follow Jesus well. I think it’s a big deal to Jesus that we trust him all the way through life and not just when it's easy.

When our son graduated from college, he was accepted into Officer Candidate School, U.S. Army. I’m so grateful God had already walked me away from fear, because being an Army mom has the potential to open wide the door to fear. Before our son left for training, I said these words to him, “I am so grateful to have raised brave children. I am so proud of your choice to live a brave life.”

My life today is not filled with fear and this is only because of God. This is only because I started believing he could be trusted. I started believing what he says is true. I started believing him for real. I started believing it is not the size of my faith that matters. It is the size of my God.

I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world. John 16:33

Yesterday, I spent too much time on Facebook. I was dismayed at the self-preserving, fear-filled atmosphere I found there from many of my American friends. When, I wondered, did we become a nation of fear? When did we become so concerned with our own safety and comfort that we could be okay watching families languish in refugee camps for years. When did my life become more important than the African life, than the Syrian life? I don’t know. But I know we are all equally valued, equally loved by God.

Most people, I think, don’t understand the refugee process in the United States. We do not have Middle Eastern or African refugees slipping over our borders in great numbers like is happening in Europe. To get to the United States as a refugee is a long and difficult process. Many of my refugee friends spent fifteen years in camps jumping through the myriad of hoops that is the route to a safe home. 

This morning I prayed for my country. I prayed for our leaders to have wisdom and compassion. I understand our refugee program is not without error. I have many refugee friends. I understand the messiness of the system. It is not perfect. Because we are not perfect. We do not always live up to our intelligence potential, our common sense potential, our compassion potential, our desire to do the right thing potential. We do stupid things. We get it wrong. But we have a better chance of getting it right when we choose to love others more than ourselves.

I know the one place I can't go wrong is the place where Jesus is.  I can be weak, sinful, foolish, and even rebellious.  I can fail others, ruin ministries, fumble my work, and still, I cannot go wrong when I stand with fear and trembling, knowing only Jesus. Carl Medearis ~ Speaking of Jesus

You know what I am afraid of? I’m afraid of loving myself more than my neighbor. I’m afraid of loving my comfortable bed more than my neighbor in Syria. I’m afraid of loving my warm home more than I love my neighbor in Congo or Rwanda. I’m afraid of loving my morning coffee more than a desire to give my time away. I’m afraid of myself I guess.

Jesus didn’t come here and show us how to lead a comfortable, predictable life. He came here and had no home. He came here and loved the wrong people. He came here and was brutally killed. Because he loved us more than he loved himself.

I want to live his Way always.

And I am not afraid.

If you will trust God with your anguish it will birth something precious to you. It will birth something that you will not trade back. Beth Moore

I forget so easily that there’s a bigger picture. . . I forget that it’s all held together by a holy, loving God, and that we get to be his partners in restoration and healing. I forget that there’s more than I see. More than I dream. Shauna Niequist ~ Savor

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