Made for another world

"If I discover within myself a desire which no experience in the world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world." C. S. Lewis

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Face the Storm

Enjoying a swim with friends
Preparing for a tropical storm, turned hurricane, is a bit like engaging the broken people around us. You do everything you can to prepare, to shore yourself up, and then stand face to the wind bravely taking on the storm. I made this observation the past weekend as I prepared for Hurricane Isaac and prepared to spend time with an unbelieving neighbor.

I had to call deeply on the reserves of truth I have hidden in my heart as I talked with my neighbor about life. She has no frame of reference for truth. Owns a Bible because I recently gave her one. Has been wounded by people with religious affiliation. And has more questions than answers.

My hair stood back a little from the overdose of information, and pain. I like to think I've seen a few things in my day and I'm not the naive homeschooled teenager I once was. But truth be told I like my comfort zone and haven't strayed too far from the church door. I consider my past a gift but also, if I'm not careful, a handicap.

At first I saw my neighbor as a project. Isn't that what we're supposed to do? Bring the heathen into the fold and clean them up? It didn't take long for me to realize that was the lazy way to go about it. I'm a recovering pharisee, mingling too closely with an immoral person, who has more pain than can be easily dragged to church and covered up, got my palms sweaty.

Then the novel idea struck me that perhaps I should love her, and her family, for loves sake and no other. It seems to be working. I offer to take her kids to church, and often they go. I bring food from the church potluck to her house. We talk about Jesus. But I don't pressure her to come to church or commit to anything. I've never read her the Roman's road, or Four Spiritual Laws. Instead I show up. We talk about how life is messy and where is God when there is pain. She asks questions and I ask them back. I tell her I'm praying for her, I hug her kids, I hug her, I tell her I love her and that Jesus does too.

Watching the waves grow at Isaac's approach, Orange Beach
Love doesn't evacuate, it settles in. I stand in the wind and the rain and get buffeted. But I've found it's really not so bad. Actually it's exhilarating. Like driving to the beach to watch the waves grow as the storm approaches. I make sure I have a reserve of Living Water, a Holy power source, in my survival kit. I protect what might get damaged by the storm. And I find that if I'm submitted to the Holy Spirit, her unholiness doesn't effect me, Jesus' holiness in me effects her.

Hurricane Isaac turned out not to be a big deal for us. Some rain, gusty wind, and a few downed branches. Likewise loving a person, even one who is hurt and in need, when done in the power of Christ isn't a big deal. Well, it's a big deal but not for the inconvenience I imagined. It's a big deal to show up and be present, the fragrance of Jesus to one dying, because it's a holy act of love that binds my heart more closely to my Father's heart and to a heart adrift. It also reminds me how necessary God's love is. I've found grace and she's looking, maybe we're not so different.

It's all in the preparation. If I met the storms of life, both literally and figuratively, without the proper provision it could be a completely different outcome. I'm responsible to prepare accordingly. In our lives other's bare the effects of our preparation, they're counting on us.

What do you do to prepare for the tough spots and challenging people of life? What tools do you have in your survival kit?

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