A LIFE FOR A LIFE
11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. John 15:11-13
All week we have been talking about the understanding of the word REFUGE. Today, I wanted to talk a little more about the opportunity that we have to live our lives in such a way that it impacts the lives around us. In order for someone to feel confident in trusting others to lay down their lives, we have to fully understand the sacrifice that God has called us to make when it comes to others. Today, I want to talk about the other side of the coin of the word refuge. For the first two days we have been talking about a place that we can go or a protection that we are seeking. Well, today I want to talk about being the refuge for someone who is in need. I know that is something that we honestly have never thought about, because when we think about refuge, it is mostly about how we can find it for ourselves. But today I want to shift our thinking and help us to see things from a different perspective. My question to us all is, "Are we willing to be a refuge for those that are in need?" I know that may have taken you for a loop today, but I hope and pray that we realize that in order for someone to find refuge, someone has to be willing to be a part of the refuge that they seek. As God is our refuge and continuous strength, who are the people that are in our live that are in desperate need for someone to provide them refuge? Who has God placed in our lives in such a way that they are capable of finding peace and strength in our care?
I fully believe that the idea of refuge goes both ways. Not only are we seeking refuge for ourselves, but we are also trying to help others experience the same safety and assurance in God as well. And get this.... we may be the ONLY example of God's grace that they ever experience that may lead them into a full connection with God. Yes, that is a mind blowing moment for some of you today and for others you are saying... yeah I know that.. so what do
we need to do. We need to be prepared to provided refuge. We have to continue to pray to God for guidance and direction and provide the same peace and grace to those who are in need in the same manner that it is provided daily for us. None of this is jut a coincidence. God send us to people who can help us, and also, God sends people to us who we can help. There is a never ending pattern that continues to lead other people to see Jesus. I know that in my life I have helped students, families and strangers in many different ways during their times of uncertainty. I know that God has also sent people into my life to help me in the exact moment that things seemed so crazy. When I needed refuge, God knew exactly when I needed it and where I needed to go to receive it. I just pray that we are all prepared and ready to do the same when called on to be that same place of REFUGE. I know that we draw our strength from God, but I also know that we are not able to do it all alone in this world. I am truly THANKFUL for those who have laid down their lives... their family... their home... their time... and given me a place of peace and rest.
So as we read the word of Jesus written in the Gospel of John today, I hope and pray that you can see the same thing that I see. Jesus is saying that we should have such a desire to love Jesus, that we are willing to put aside our life for those that are in need. Jesus was definitely foreshadowing what was to come, but it also gives us a great picture of how we should continue to live our lives for others today. Laying down our lives means that we will stop whatever we are doing and help someone that is in need. And to continue on that thought... without ever thinking that we will need to receive something in return. When people are seeking refuge, their situation may be one that can be life-threatening or personal struggle. We are placed in their lives to lay down our lives... or stop what we are doing and just be in the moment with them. I know that one of the toughest parts of my life is when I have to go into a room where someone is possibly dying and not try to think of something to say that will make them feel better. They just need someone to sit with them and listen. They need someone that they can confide in and draw strength from our prayers. We are not meant to fix the situation. We are called to walk with them through the valleys and the mountaintops. Jesus taught that we should love God so much that we help those brothers and sisters that are in need. We lay down our position in the world... we laid down our time... our processions and show them the love that can help them draw strength to endure the test. Jesus led this by example, and even though we did not fully understand it at the time, God is continuing to reveal our part for those who are in desperate need of finding refuge today.
So my greatest encouragement for us all today is to take the time and truly provide refuge for those that are in need. It may mean that we sit and listen or that we just spend time praying with them. Refuge for them may be an opportunity to step out of the world and just
find comfort in the conversation. We are to give as we have received and I just continue to pray that God will call us to help those seeking refuge to find our doorways. I know that the road is long and difficult, but we were never meant to walk this journey alone. God has given us people to hold us accountable and to strengthen us, and called us to do the same for others that may be in need. May we continue to find ways to pay it forward so not just THE CHURCH BUILDING, but we, who ARE the CHURCH, can help others find the refuge that they are seeking. It means that we are willing to lay down our lives for a life. I know that I would do anything for anyone within reason... because I have a savior that did EVERYTHING to help me find my refuge in HIM. May God call us all to see both sides of our calling. One to see refuge from the world, but also to provide refuge for those that are in need. We have been given LIFE so that we may share the GOSPEL to the world.