Friday, December 26, 2014

Serving in Hard Places

Note: This was written the day after Christmas. On the following day I went to visit the person we're speaking of and am contacting those who have been willing to help to make sure they know how important their volunteer service is in this case.

So early this (Friday) morning I was doing some study of The Dangerous Kind book, trying to get to the nub of the first chapter. After I'd been doing that for awhile I went to find my phone and found urgent text messages, left earlier, from someone who is doing their best to help a loved one deal with the the justice system. It turns out we had screwed up and a particular kind of essential help we had promised didn't show up at the time it was needed.

Tomorrow I'll visit that loved one at the jail and do my best to make things work out in the days and weeks to come. The justice system doesn't forgive, at least not easily, so our mistake has already caused great anxiety for the inmate and their family and might cause more significant problems for them. Please pray for us that we would recognize how important it is that we do a very good job in what we have agreed to do.

Why did we screw up this morning? Well, the person who had agreed to provide the help was not focused in on the regular schedule of things, and, frankly, neither was I. Today is the day after Christmas and so many people aren't quite as focused on "getting things done" as usual. It's a Friday after a Thursday holiday. It's not unusual for people to have a more relaxed attitude on a day like this. But for the one who is in jail, that's not reality. The truth is, we sort of "forgot" today... not good.

The fact is that God often leads us into situations that aren't all that easy. We find ourselves in uncomfortable places dealing with systems and with people (and sometimes professional people) who have little tolerance for what we may think of as "normal" human error. Those of us on the outside, and those of us who have lived with forgiveness on a regular basis, just don't experience the same stress or even understand why "perfection" is sometimes required. It many not be fair, but if we're going to get involved in those places, we need to play by the rules. It's just what needs to be done.

In The Dangerous Kind the author presses us toward the kind of "Kingdom of God" work that was championed by Jesus and the Apostles. Not only were they personally familiar with the "justice systems" of their time, they also were not shy about getting involved with people who were suffering from various sorts of injustice. The life that they call us to, the sort of life that the Word of God speaks of and that Holy Spirit pushes us into will have us in hard places often. Even on days when we'd rather be sleeping in.

In the Bible there is no expectation that life on this earth would be easy. God does provide what's needed, and we are praying for supernatural peace to come upon this man and his family, but "escape" is not an option. Pray for me and for the "team" of helpers that we would do a better job of staying alert in the days and weeks to come. Pray that God would use all we do to bring His Kingdom in power and love to all we encounter as we serve. Pray that we would serve well.

"Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body." Hebrews 13:8

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