I sit in my quiet living room, overwhelmed by my wealth. My babies are napping peacefully (for now). I am safe. I am dry and warm, but not too hot thanks to air conditioning. I live in a 3 bedroom, 2-bath house, with a spacious living space, and a 2 car garage and countless amenities. Our neighborhood even has an HOA (Home Owners Association) to help maintain our standard of living.
At a recent HOA meeting, I realized how important peoples homes are to them. With stocks down and investments failing, our neighbors are desperate to maintain their property value. In many ways, they consider it their last hope.
I left the meeting feeling sorry for these individuals. They do not have hope for eternity like I do. I know my hope rests in Christ, and my final home is in heaven, not this sunny hill in northern Wyoming. Feeling quite abstemious, I sat down to unwind, thanking God for liberating me from such materialism. I know I am blessed, but I don’t cling to my blessings like others do…
As I scrolled through social media, a reoccurring theme captured my attention: Syria. Isis. Refugees. Lifeless children washed up on a beach. Pictures and news articles of the largest refugee crisis since WWII. A great call for people across the globe to open their homes and welcome the stranger.
And it hit me. I don’t want to welcome a stranger. This is my safe place. This house is where our family can unwind together. This is where my kids can sleep in peace and I can find sanctuary. We host dinners and movies for broke college kids here, how could we do that ministry with another family taking up space?
Oh, how my heart broke at my own proclivity to selfishness. Moments earlier I touted such self-righteousness compared to my neighbors. Now, with the reality of thousands of homeless families, dying children, before my eyes, I am the one clinging to my home, rather than to Jesus.
I realize I am spoiled. Rotten.
And in my quest to refocus on Gods best, I understand I need to change my perspective of my wealth, my home. Unfortunately, my first inclination is to respond to a personal sense of self-righteousness, rather than the Holy spirit’s actual conviction.
In my pride, I assume I have to be the savior. A self-propelled guilt says I should give everything I own to save the world. I must sacrifice my comfort, my health, and those of my family, to go above and beyond to change this planet for the better.
Glory to Me!, I mean, glory to God…
The Holy Spirit helps me realize this extreme view is also wrong. God does not overwhelm me with wealth, safety, beautiful children, a strong marriage, and an able body just so I can sit and enjoy it all. However, He also does not overwhelm me with such wealth so that I can personally save each soul and needy child on earth. My pride would love such drama and accolade, but that is not God’s idea of obedience.
God does not expect us to be the saviors, but he also does not call us to be the spoiled. As my husband always says, “you can be spoiled, but you cannot behave spoiled.” I think the sweet-spot between these two extremes is God’s calling for us to be sanctified.
Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely. And may your spirit, soul, and body be kept sound and blameless for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it. 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24
To be sanctified means to be set apart, to be different from the rest of the world, to be made holy. By accepting Jesus as Savior, my identity is now considered holy because of Christ in me. However, my actions, thoughts, and life-patterns still sometimes look more like my human self, rather than Jesus. Thus, the Holy Spirit engages me in the process of sanctification. It is slow, and takes time. But I can participate by working out my salvation with fear and trembling (Phil 2:12). And I choose to do so now with regards to the refugee crisis.
I begin by praying for God’s perspective; how does He see this situation? I know God is big enough to comfort each broken heart and torn apart family. I prayerfully proclaim His sovereignty over the country of Syria. I petition God to convert “Sauls” of Isis into great evangelists of salvation through Jesus, as He did for Paul in the book of Acts. I pray for the hearts and homes of Christians in Greece and Turkey to be open to offer help and hospitality.
The Spirit leads me to read Isaiah 58 to further redefine my idea of what it means to cling to Jesus, not my home:
5 Will the fast I choose be like this: A day for a person to deny himself, to bow his head like a reed, and to spread out sackcloth and ashes? Will you call this a fast and a day acceptable to the Lord?
6 Isn’t the fast I choose: To break the chains of wickedness, to untie the ropes of the yoke, to set the oppressed free, and to tear off every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, to bring the poor and homeless into your house, to clothe the naked when you see him, and not to ignore your own flesh and blood?
8 Then your light will appear like the dawn, and your recovery will come quickly. Your righteousness will go before you, and the Lord’s glory will be your rear guard.
9 At that time, when you call, the Lord will answer; when you cry out, He will say, ‘Here I am.’ If you get rid of the yoke among you, the finger-pointing and malicious speaking,
10 and if you offer yourself to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted one, then your light will shine in the darkness, and your night will be like noonday.
Shane and I have begun the process of making our hearts refugee-ready. We are brainstorming ideas to make our home, our budget, and our family refugee-ready as well. Adoption, financial donation, foster care, volunteering, selfless prayers, and being a safe place for a hurting college kid are all ways we can embody hospitality. It might not feel safe or comfy, but we want lead our children in obedience to God’s standards, not the comfort of American standards.
We aren’t ready yet, but God is sanctifying us in that direction. Whether in the crisis of invasion or drought or simple brokenness of a sinful word, we want to be remembered by our open arms like Jesus was.
For more information on how you can become refugee ready, visit WeWelcomeRefugees.com