Grace in Real Time, Guest Post by Lori Smith
I have this neighbor who bakes. She bakes like it’s nobody’s business – but it’s her business, she made it a business, gave it a name, takes her orders. And our kids, they play well together – her boy and my boy, her girls and my girl. They ride bikes, share Legos, switch backyards. But the belief systems, they’re different. She believes she is still under the law – me I’m under Grace. The rituals are there, the bread baking on Fridays, the annual celebration of Hanukkah, Hebrew spoken to friends on certain holidays. We’re standing outside one day, watching kids play, talking a little about belief, and it rolls off her tongue and hits me like a Mack Truck, like a gust of wind it takes my breath away – I Don’t Care If My Kids Believe In God. Her husband doesn’t believe anything, so maybe I should have seen that coming. I saw other things coming – like when she got plastic surgery or all the ways she belittled her beloved. The Holy Spirit gives us insight into hurt, and I felt her hurt from the time I met her – even if she didn’t feel it. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised then the day her husband whispered to mine they are divorcing. But still I cried, and my heart shattered into a million pieces for them, for the kids.
When there’s nothing to stand on, how do you stand?
At church we are exploring the Supernatural. My son, he’s in the video. At home we teach it. We learn it everyday. We discuss ALERTNESS vs. UNAWARENESS. We home school so God can be in school. And we try to put FIRST THINGS FIRST. One Sunday there’s this illustration. And I’m warned by my friend the day before – it’s powerful. Demons – that’s the topic. The family on stage is being ripped apart, while demons dance around, egging it on. But then a single prayer, a child’s prayer, and in come the mighty angels. I’m crying, tears streaming, because I’ve pictured this scene. I’ve seen it, and I know it’s there. My house, God’s angel army set around it, because I pray it most nights – God set your angels around us, around my house. And my neighbor’s house, ravished by demons, running amuck – because everyone serves someone. I want my angels to go over there, beat them up, take them down in an instant because I know they can. I even pray for it to happen. Whether she is asking or not, I ask for her. But the unseen desolation continues – like in the Matrix – when the “real” world is revealed, all dark and demolished but all the people are living in the matrix and so all looks well, seems happy and bright.
“But don’t be afraid of those who threaten you. For the time is coming when everything that is covered will be revealed, and all that is secret will be made known to all. What I tell you now in the darkness, shout abroad when daybreak comes. What I whisper in your ear, shout from the housetops for all to hear!” Matthew 10:26-27 (MSG)
Everything in me wants to shout it from my rooftop to hers. Because even the demons know the truth. But there’s enough shouting in the world for now, and I know that shouting never got anyone anywhere – I know because there was a lot of shouting in my childhood home, and it never got us anywhere either. So I take the servant’s route.
“Look, I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. So be as shrewd as snakes and harmless as doves.” Matthew 10:16 (NLT)
I ask how she’s doing when he moves out. I ask how the kids are doing. I offer my help. But still I pray, because I don’t want to be devoured. I don’t want to be consumed – because I already feel consumed by my own circumstances and there’s demons all around, looking for a way in. And, she’s asking on Facebook for someone, anyone I guess, to watch her kids after school – because she’s a working mom now. When I read the post it’s one of those moments I wish I could hit the rewind button, not have checked social media at that moment. HIS callings aren’t always comfortable. But I feel called immediately by HIS words:
“That’s exactly what Jesus did. He didn’t make it easy for himself by avoiding people’s troubles, but waded right in and helped out. ‘I took on the troubles of the troubled,’ is the way Scripture puts it. Even if it was written in Scripture long ago, you can be sure it’s written for us. God wants the combination of his steady, constant calling and warm, personal counsel in Scripture to come to characterize us, keeping us alert for whatever he will do next.” Romans 15:3-4 (MSG)
…and I whined a little, because my days are already so overwhelming. Then, I whispered, “yes.” How can we teach obedience to our children, if we ourselves are not obedient?
So I wade right in, help out. I take on the troubles of the troubled children, my heart breaking every bit as theirs. I play God music while they’re here, hoping an angel will follow them home. And, I pray they ask me questions so I can give God answers. My husband and I, we discuss all these things, because how can you ever know anything about marriage if you don’t talk? We talk, and we wonder why others don’t. And we pray because sometimes that’s all we can do.
And my children, they recite the scripture to me:
“Stay alert, be in prayer, so you don’t enter the danger zone without even knowing it. Don’t be naïve. Part of you is eager, ready for anything in God; but another part is as lazy as an old dog sleeping by the fire.” Mark 14:38 (MSG)
So I stay alert. And I pray.
Shoreline MOPS Coordinator