The other night my son and I were having one of those mother and son talks. We have done that a lot over the years actually and the older he has gotten, the more thankful I am that I always made time to talk to and listen to my son. If you do not make the time to encourage your children to talk to you and actually listen to them when they are young, you should not be surprised at their reluctance to do so with you, when they get older. They are only doing what you taught them to do.
My son and his wife of less than five years separated this past fall. Their divorce was finalized in early February. The dids, the didn'ts, the should haves or shouldn't haves do not matter at this point. What is done has been done and even if there would one day be reconcilitiation and restoration, nothing can change the pain that occurred when the bond between two people who were one flesh was severed.
Not having ever been truly close-up to divorce, I used to foolishly think that two people were taking "the easy way" out. Standing this close to my son, I realize that there is nothing easy about it. There is grace, there is forgiveness but though they both may build new lives with other people, there will always be a scar until that final day when God wipes away every tear and removes every scar.
One of the things my son told me during our little chat was how much pain some people whom he loves and respects have given him. He is neither seeking nor expecting their approval but he misses their love. How he longs for them to put their arms around him and just let him know that they crying right along with him. They can't fix anything but they can sit beside him as he cries. I am thankful that he still has friends who will do that but am grieved about those who feel that to do so means that they are giving him their stamp of approval. These people have chosen to preach rather than to minister. After all, isn't that what a good Christian is supposed to do?
Jesus tells the story of a man who was robbed, beaten and left to die on the Jericho Road. This road can still be traveled today. Pictures and video clips I have seen of it reveal a narrow and dangerous-looking road with plenty of spots for an attacker to hide. In Jesus' day, this road was well-known as place where travelers were often accosted, particularly if they were alone. It was not a good idea to travel this road alone.
The story of The Good Samaritan is a familiar one so I am going to skip to the end. When the Samaritan arrives on the scene. He does not stand over the man, shaking his head and lecture him about how he should not have been traveling that road, should have been more careful, this was his fault, he made poor decisions, he needed to change his ways, etc. He also makes no judgmemt. He sees a man who is seriously injured and needs help immediately. He realizes that it will take time for the man to heal and regain his strength. He probably is not a doctor but he can administer some first aid and get the man to safety. So, that's exactly what he does. He doesn't focus on the man's previous actions or inaction. Those issues can be dealt with at a later time if necessary but at the moment, it is important to get the bleeding stopped and the wounds cleaned and bound up and that is exactly what The Good Samaritan does.
The next step is to move the man to a safe place where he can receive further treatment as well as rest and nourishment so that he might fully recover. Again, this was not the time to preach er... give a lecture. He did not need to tell the man what he could have done to have avoided getting hurt. He gave the man what he needed more at the moment. He brought him to an inn and made arrangements for the man to be cared for after he, the Samaritan, left to attend to some business. He would return however.
Jesus ends the story here. While this story had been told in answer to the question, "Who is my neighbor", I believe Jesus was also giving us an example of how we need to respond to those who are broken and hurting in our world, including the people in our churches.
There is certainly a time and place for preaching but we must also remember that when someone has been wounded, they need to also be treated with great care. We must seek and follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit in these matters lest we do harm rather than good. Only God knows when we need to speak... and when we need to listen.
Image courtesy of Nagy-Bagoly Arpad/Stockfresh.jpg
Is there not some sort of saying that we were given only one mouth but two ears for a reason?
Well said - thanks.
As I read this, I couldn't help but think of how each of us want and need our parents to be there for us -- no matter what our age. How wonderful that you've established such a unique relationship with your son, so that especially in times like he's experiencing he can come to you and "still" talk.
"Who is my neighbor", I believe Jesus was also giving us an example of how we need to respond to those who are broken and hurting in our world, including the people in our churches."
Yes... "Let Us" respond as Jesus would have us "to respond to those who are broken and hurting."
As I wrote this, I recalled a movie I really like called "The Imposter". It was about an individual who was showing one face to the world but in reality was living a lie. The message of this movie was that often times we cast ourselves into the role of being a "savior" and we want to "rescue" people when in reality, we are interfering in the work God is doing. Sometimes God must bring people down to the lowest level before they stop playing games and cry out to Him.
As parents we know that there are sometimes we need to cuddle, love and attempt to fix but sigh... other times we know there are important lessons to be learned and that we must step back and allow our child to learn things the hard way. We can't react to every situation the exact same way every time.
The bottom line is, if we truly want to minister to people, we need to take the time to ask God to direct our response and give us wisdom as opposed to simply responding the way we think we should.
Thanks for writing this. It was a really good blog.
Helping someone who has been through the wringer emotionally speaking, is absolutely like a person arriving first on the scene of an accident or emergency, absolutely like the Good Samaritan. While I can think of some people who ministered to me really effectively over the years in hard times - this is not the first aid task. Spiritual first-aiders do important work in the Lord's name - and I think that, in extreme cases, these people who listen without judging, care, meet immediate needs, provide practical support ... and make hot drinks sometimes too ... can truly be used to save a person's life. They are all too often the unsung heroes.
God bless you and Daniel,
Unfortunately, we are all guilty of judging people whether we really realize it or not. The mere fact that we hold criticisms silently or not, is proof that we judge them without understanding the "shoes" they walk in. Everyone has a particular journey in this life, some loaded with mishaps, bad decisions and circumstances they had no control of. However, showing just genuine, sincere love to others, covers all the bad and provides healing and hope to those in need.