Saturday, September 26, 2009

Sticks and stones will break your bones, but the Lord is good forever.

Everyone throws that word around.
I paint paintings with that word.
People have keyrings, tattoos, shirts, bags, shoes, coffee mugs all emblazoned repeatedly with the word LOVE.
It kind of takes away the seriousness and passion of the act of love.
Act of love = Love is a verb.

What did Jesus mean when he said we are to LOVE our enemies?

The NIV says:
But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you Matthew 5:44

The King James goes on:
But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; Matthew 5:44

This week I was um, blessed, to be able to learn exactly how hard and how necessary it is to, in fact, love our enemies.

It was just a crazy day...Groups of kids were playing football right in the street in front of my work, Sunshine Gospel Ministries. Right in the middle of 61st St, which is a busy street, they were standing there and tossing the football back and forth and holding up traffic. They would move after like two or three cars were stopped on each side. BOLD AS LIONS, for real. Three different times, guys from Sunshine went out to try to get the kids to move, it wasnt really happening. About an hour later, I went out to get in my car to leave. As I pulled out a drove a few feet and BAM! My car got pelted by rocks. I slammed on my brakes out of surprise at the sound and that these young teenagers were just standing a group. STILL throwing rocks at my car as I looked at them. One flew in the open passenger window and hit me. I pulled over and got out. What's going on, I asked. Some of the guys ran away. I called two of the young guys out by their name, for they had just walked out of the ministry center, and said, "Why you throwing rocks at me?" The two I knew stammered that it wasnt them, pleaded with me to understand it wasnt them. They dropped the rocks they were holding. The other boys came back, rocks in hand. They all just looked at me, then started throwing rocks at the buses and passing cars as I talked to the two kids I know. I said, "Whats the point, why is this what you want to do?" They had no answers. One guy turned and swore at me and told me what was the point of me? Go away and threw a rock at me. I froze as it hit me. He walked closer and said, "What you gonna do?" His friends seemed a little shocked and backed up, one told me to hit him. He laughed and asked me if I was going to, then he dared me to. Im not gonna lie, I sized him up. But I did one better, I walked away. He hit me a rock as I walked back to my car. I picked up my phone and called 911 and as I pulled back about 10 feet to the front of Sunshine Min. he hit my car with two more rocks. I told 911 that the kids are in the street, hitting me and cars with rocks. Twenty minutes one came. I called again, and again over the next ten minutes. Ok, we will send someone.
Im not new to this...sometimes the police dont come. I get it. Sometimes they come like one, two or three hours later. I know. But this was hard....
The kids walked back and forth across the street intermittenly pegging cars and buses with rocks and running in the street, but all the time watching me and another guy waiting outside. Another call to the cops from the guy waiting with me. We finally flagged a passing police vehicle down and tell them what happened. The kids are still right there, we point. The kid that hit me and my car was wearing a different color shirt then all the rest of the guys. They genuinely seemed completely disinterested in my situation but drove SLOWLY down the street. The kid splits off from the group and runs into an alley. The police, driving their fancy new "urban tactical SUV", slowly follow his path into an alley. About four minutes later the kid comes running out from a gangway and walks past us waiting outside and he joins up with his group walking down the street. The cops appear minutes later and in plain sight the kid hops on a bicycle and rides down another alley. They dont chase him but pull over and get out to come talk to us. The one officer asks me if I want to file a battery charge, but lets me know its all but pointless since we dont have his name or address or anything. As another man from my work comes out and talks to the cops about the regularity of these instances on this street, with these kids, doing these things I just walk to my car and leave.

Powerlessness. Futility. Embarassment. All of these flood over me and I was so incensed, it took HOURS for me to calm down. Trying to work through these feelings, I realized that at the pit of all of these was fear. I had no recourse of action, no justice would be served here, and this kid NOW knew where I worked and which car I drive and could come back anytime. And it was more than obvious the cops were not overly concerned. I drove to the west side, had dinner, made some pies, and came home. Just as my stomach had finally unknotted and I was thinking about other things, the dad in the house I live in came home. He is also the head of Sunshine ministry. "We just got robbed," he said . Someone got in and stole laptops, desktop computers,the sound equipment, and then set off the fire extinguishers everywhere.

My stomach knotted up immediately. I couldnt sleep very much. Anger and confusion again, and I replayed the actions from earlier with the ideas of people taking the stuff we use to teach kids and minister with. Then, the Lord showed up mighty. He quieted me and gave me His peace, as only he can give.

"In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."
John 16:33

Jesus came to earth. People hated Him, they chose to kill Him instead of a common criminal. He still willingly died for our sins, because of Love.
If I only love those who can and do love me back, have I done anything? If you give me flowers, and I love you....Have I endured? Have I taken up my cross? No.
To do the work of the Lord is hard. This is real. I tried to pray for that kid a few times that night but couldnt. I was weak. It took until the next day, after we had cleaned and I sat on the floor to pray with a few friends/ fellow believers/coworkers to pray until I could utter a few words asking God for the strength to forgive him, and to make me love him, and when I see him and his friends as I know I will, I asked and still ask God for the courage and the boldness to hold NO grudge..but to love him as Jesus loves and forgives me. This whole thing wasnt even about me, and I dont want to make it about me. This kid is sad and lost and angry, so angry. As I know all too well, hurting people hurt people. Ive done it...countless times. I just got in his way. I hope the Lord puts me in his way again.

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him! When we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son.
Romans 5:6-10

God loved me, even when I didnt love him. So thankful am I.

1 comment:

jasdye said...

awesome, Sarah.

very, very awesome.

God is good. all the time.