As I write this I am sitting in the surgical waiting area of a local hospital. My husband is having a kidney stone removed. (I call it the demonic kidney stone that has ruined our lives, aka Steve.) That last little parentheses is me being dramatic. Obviously it's not demonic and it hasn’t ruined our lives, it's just felt that way. My husband and I both agree that birthing a third child would take less doctor and hospital visits than getting rid of, and I quote the ER doctor, this “rather large” kidney stone. But I’m really not trying to write about our misadventures with Steve the kidney stone.
I find myself sitting here though, watching and listening. (I’m not eavesdropping but it's hard not to hear snippets of other conversations in a closed space.) I really don’t know anyone else’s situation, whether it's life altering or just more demonic kidney stones. I hear the laughs and jokes of people trying to keep their minds off loved ones who are in the operating room. I glance at the distressed eyes of worried spouses. I notice the encouraging whispers of family members keeping each other positive.
All the while I think about how grateful I am that this is just about Steve. (That’s the kidney stone if you haven’t figured it out yet.)
It could be worse. I could be sitting here because of something much more dire, infinitely more tragic and frightening. And then I think back to the woman at the urologist’s office.
I don’t know who she was. I had never met her before and will probably never see her again in my life. But I can’t forget the look in her eyes when she walked out from her appointment, headed through the waiting room on her way to wherever, after her meeting with her doctor was finished. She came out of the doorway and her eyes met mine for just a brief moment. I couldn’t help but notice her tears. The look on her face was the look of a woman who had just gotten bad news. And my heart broke for this stranger.
I know nothing about her but in that moment I felt some sort of connection to her, a compassion for her hurt that tugged at my heart. I wish I had had the courage to walk up to her and ask her if she was alright and offer her at least a little something more than a compassionate smile. I wish I had not let my own fear stop me from being Jesus to her in that moment.
How many times do we let fear stop us from being Jesus to someone?
(Yes, in part I am talking about Syrian refugees, social outcasts and political enemies. But I’m not looking to join a political debate. I understand the concern. I understand the fear. I also believe Jesus never called us to safety and comfort. You can do with that what you will, believe what you will, and think what you will about these situations. It's okay if it's not the way I think. Really it is. And just so you don't jump to disagree with me without knowing what you might or might not disagree with; I do think we should help people who have lost everything, what that help looks like I don't know. Perhaps it's sending aide overseas, perhaps it is opening our doors with wisdom and caution. I think we should love others and seek to make peace rather than get our way. I think we should remember that Jesus loves the person we see as dangerous, sinful or our enemy as much as He loves us. Either way, and whatever you believe, we shouldn't react out of fear even just on social media. Let us also be as wise with our words as we want our government to be.)
That being said, this is about more than a refugee crisis or angry political climate. This is about the feeling I have that we have lost our courage. I feel like too often we cave to fear and because of it people don’t see Jesus.
Jesus was brave. I don’t think he was fearless, I think he was bold and courageous in the face of fear. (After all, He did pray and ask God to ‘take this cup’ from Him before his arrest. That sounds like fear to me.) Fear never stopped Him.
Not fear of rejection.
Not fear of persecution.
Not fear of death.
We don’t have to let it stop us either.
Trust me, I am afraid of things. I am afraid of school shooters and terrorists and the notion of the world my children might grow up in.
But I don’t want to let fear stop me from being Jesus to whomever is placed in front of me.
I also don’t want to confuse bravery and boldness with argumentative social media political rhetoric. (Yes, there I said it.) We are very good at hiding behind keyboards to debate politics in the name of Christianity but at the cost of the Gospel. (Yes, I went there too.)
Jesus does not need you to defend Him. He doesn’t need you to argue His Word. He and His word are quite capable of doing the work only they can do anyway. What Jesus needs is for us to love people. To tell them His story and to live it like we actually believe it. Not just when it comes to politics (FYI being Christian, the Gospel, is much bigger than American politics) but when it comes to actions. Even when those actions might cost us something. Even when they are terrifying.
Whether it's asking a stranger if they are okay or giving a refugee a safe haven.
Maybe its reaching out to a neighbor or the homeless, watching our attitude, showing grace even when we disagree…I could go on but I will let you fill in the blank yourself.
My life could be a lot scarier right now. I could be dealing with more than evil Steve the kidney stone. I could have come home to lose my spouse to a burglar. I could have a child fighting cancer. I could be mourning a loved one who never came home from that Paris concert or Florida club. I could have lost everything because of an enemy none of us want to win.
Scarier than all of those things to me is the idea that Jesus wanted me to be something, do something, and I missed Him because I was afraid. That I let my own comfort become more important than His Kingdom.
Jim Elliot once said, "he is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." He was willing to go into death for the chance to reach someone with the Gospel. Maybe you are called to go. Maybe you are called to change. Maybe you are called to welcome. Maybe we are all called to sacrifice. Let’s be brave.
"The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion." Proverbs 28:1 ESV