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Posts Tagged ‘human-rights’

MB900422771[1]With this being the 40th anniversary of Roe versus wade, the news has been filled with commentary from both sides. You can read the pro life side and you can read the pro choice side and both have parts and pieces of logic.

I firmly believe the reason we can’t come to an agreement on the issue is because we have never had the right to even have a choice in the matter. Only God has the knowledge and foresight and vision to know whether a life is valid. And since He is the one who creates that life in the first place, He is wise enough not to create something of no value.

All of the arguments aside, I got a practical lesson on the whole issue this week. It was a beautiful illustration of life value and I wish I could pass it on to every pro-choicer out there.

The real story began over 60 years ago when a baby boy was born to the parents of one of my best friends. He was severely handicapped from the start, his body twisted and useless. And though normal communication was not possible, it soon became apparent that his mind was sharp and comprehension of the world around him keen. His fierce determination to fight for life earned him the nickname of Tuffy.

For 60 years his family has faithfully loved and cared for him. They were his advocates when the long term care facility was giving less than adequate care. They went out of their way to make sure he spent holidays with the family. They visited regularly – almost every day – for 60 years to make sure he knew he was loved. They managed to understand his method of communication and did everything they could to address his needs.

I have seen them kiss him and hug him, shave him and joke with him. I have watched them turn his chair for the best view out the window, readjust his pillows to assure comfort, get in the faces of medical staff to get them to listen, and nurse him through fevers and infections.

My precious friend has her own serious health problems, has a very challenging marriage, lost a daughter in her twenties to cancer and fights every day to keep her head above water. Never once have I heard anger, bitterness, regret or impatience over the demands of keeping Tuffy safe and secure. While from the outside this did not look like a regular, gather around the dinner table every night kind of family, it was no less a family because of Tuffy. In fact, the extra effort needed to hold them together probably made it more of a well bonded family than most.

Several times, especially in the last few years, Tuffy became critically ill. Never did my friend wish for it to be over. Her prayers were always for comfort and healing. She never asked that her life be easier, only Tuffy’s. 

Tuffy passed away this past week and my friend along with her family have deeply grieved.

To my friend he was never a burden, he was a brother. His life served a purpose regardless of his ability to walk and talk in a “normal” manner. I believe Tuffy’s life made her kinder, more thoughtful, more compassionate, more tolerant and more thankful than life without him would have.

Was their life easy with a child like Tuffy? Not in the furthest sense of the word. Was their life better because of Tuffy? You bet it was. He brought a light and a love, a focus and family closeness, and  lessons beyond measure.

Tuffy was different but no less dear to his family than any other son or sibling. I rejoice that he is free of his twisted body and running around heaven shouting and singing today. And I thank God for my friend and the life lesson she passed on by embracing what others might have called a life of little value.

If we could all let God handle life and death and just tend to the things He gives us control over, events like Roe versus Wade would not exist. Instead, love and compassion would take their place.

For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. Psalm 139:13-16 

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MB900427740[1]Two interesting stories came my way recently and made me examine our tendency to generalize.  It also caused me to examine the way Jesus listened individually not collectively to the people He came in contact with.

The first story hit the headlines in our town, was repeated several times on the local news stations and stirred many heated discussions.  A 50 year old man, a familiar figure because of his daily begging on the same busy street corner, was found dead in his vehicle from an apparent drug overdose.  The police also found $1,700 in cash and over $83,000 worth of cocaine in his possession. Week after week this man had put on his beaten down face, shuffled back and forth in a humble, down on his luck manner and and carried a sign pleading for “just one dollar”.

You can only imagine the reaction from the community.  Much ranting and raving about how these street corner beggars are all con artists, dangerous criminals, only used the money collected to buy drugs, and should be outlawed. I can honestly say not one radio caller or letter writer voiced any kind of compassion. I can also honestly say I did not feel one ounce of compassion for the main character in this story.

My second story didn’t hit any headlines or talk shows. It was related to me by a co-worker who had walked from her home to a local convenience store. As she approached she saw a man standing by the door and could tell right away he was going to ask for a handout. Her mind flashed to the recent news story noted above and she shoved her hands deeper into her pockets where she was carrying several bills of different denominations.

Sure enough, the man approached her and asked for seventy cents. She was surprised at the amount and asked what he was going to do with the money. He answered that he was hungry and the convenience store sold corn dogs for seventy cents. She sensed honesty in his statement and quickly prayed for God to guide her. She felt compelled to give the man whatever bill she pulled out of her pocket. She had a twenty, a ten and a five. So she added to her prayer that God would let her fingers grasp the five.

Pulling out her hand she offered the money, which happened to be a ten dollar bill, to the man. To her surprise he refused it, reminding her he only needed seventy cents. She tried to encourage him to take the entire bill but in all humility he explained that all he needed was seventy cents and he would feel bad taking more. She went inside, picked up her purchases and on the way out handed the man seventy cents.

She couldn’t help but look back as she walked away and sure enough, the man was inside purchasing a corn dog.

Two beggars, two different motives, two different actions – proving not everyone lies, not everyone cheats, not everyone takes advantage of generous people.

We are so prone to generalize and paint similar groups with the same brush, be it race, ethnicity, gender, occupation or whatever else we can pounce on.  Jesus didn’t stop healing lepers because one was ungrateful. He addressed the honest questions of Nicodemis even though other religious leaders had ulterior motives. And when a crippled man was lowered through the roof, Jesus assessed his faith and addressed the real problem, not of his infirmity but of the sin in his life.

Jesus weighed each scenario, evaluated each need, studied each circumstance to make sure He did the right thing at the right time.  Very few things fit neatly in a box with a generic label. It takes an open mind and an open heart to seek the proper response in each situation.

There are plenty of people and talk shows and written articles to try to convince you that everyone is up to something. They will say don’t trust, don’t love, don’t give and don’t take a risk.

There is still one very good resource, however, to remind you that God listened to your story. He didn’t toss you into a pot of you’re-just-like-all-the-rest stew. Instead, He listened, He loved and He gave you what you needed. That resource is called the Bible, the precious Word of God. The more you study it the better you will be able to discern your part in the scheme of your every day encounters. Sometimes you will know to turn away and other times you will feel led to reach into your pocket.

Two stories, One God with all the answers.

“When Jesus saw how much faith they had, he said to the crippled man, “My friend, your sins are forgiven.” Mark 2:5

 

 

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Today our local paper ran an article about the opening of homeless shelters now that temperatures are dropping close to the freezing mark in the evenings.  One man interviewed stated he was thankful for the shelter where he could come in out of the cold and find something to eat. Homelessness is something I know exists but have never experienced, by the grace of God.

Last night my bible study ladies discussed a lesson on being thankful.  Without exception each lady stated they were thankful for a home that was warm and dry. To my knowledge not one of us has ever had to shelter under a piece of cardboard or shiver through the night on a frost covered park bench.

Two years ago a co-worker got involved in the homeless shelter her church opened and she told me a story I will never forget. She was helping deliver food to a community that had formed along the river in our area and was shocked to find a young couple and their two small children living there.  Their story was heartbreaking.  Both parents had lost their jobs and consequently their home. They were fairly new to the area, had no family or other resources to help them out and ended up where they never dreamed they would ever be – sleeping along a river bank with two little boys.

How many of you picture dirty, scraggly haired men when you think of homelessness? I do.  At least I did before that incident. God brought the message of judgment and compassion home to me in a big way that day. Homelessness is seldom a choice. It is the result of tragic circumstances.  Admittedly sometimes those tragic circumstances are brought about by bad choices people make. But not always!

My heart broke the day I heard the story of this little family. I was privileged to be a very small part of rescuing them from their situation. I don’t know where they are now but I’ve never lost my compassion for homelessness or my sincere gratefulness for a roof over my head, a warm place to come home to at the end of the day, and a soft bed to lie in at night.

Homelessness is like so many other issues we bump up against as we travel through our day.  Poverty, crime, abuse, pain and suffering are out there. We hear a story and for a moment our hearts are moved.  The problem is we tend toward apathy because we aren’t directly affected.  And I’m afraid that’s what Revelation refers to when it speaks of the church of Sardis.  Sometimes called the “dead church” they seemed to have little passion for the needs outside their doors.

I’m not trying to make anyone feel guilty and I’m not trying to push anyone into jumping in and offering up your basement.  But I do want us to keep homelessness on our hearts and in our prayers every day, especially as the temperatures drop and the snow begins to fall.  Here are some ways I think will help us do that.

  • Wake up praising God for a good night’s sleep in a warm bed. Don’t take it for granted.
  • When you see someone on a street corner, push that first thought out of your head and respond with an immediate prayer for people in need. Ask God to help you be descerning in your decision to give or not.
  • Get involved in some way with your local shelters – give food, clothing, blankets or time.
  • Carry items in your car that you could offer to a person in need like gloves, hats, scarves.
  • If you can possibly do it, call your local shelter and volunteer to spend a night serving a meal and making those that come in comfortable.
  • Always, always share the love of Jesus with the lost and lonely.
  • And when you walk into your house at the end of the day, before you yell at the kids for the mess or complain about another meal to prepare or lament over the power bill, thank God for all of it.

Finally, if you have trouble finding a heart for the homeless, remember that spiritually you were one of them once. But it was taken care of by the Christ who cannot look upon a child in distress and keep from weeping. Let’s be more Christlike.

“He took up our infirmities and bore our diseases.” Matthew 8:17

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