Early last year, my wife and I became foster parents. 2015 was a very important year for my family, but it was also one of the most stressful times of my life. By the year’s end, I needed relief. Thankfully, I found it. One major change came after my wife and I decided to take peace seriously. We clearly had very little of it, and that was a problem—a larger problem than any other single issue we were dealing with. As Pastor Jeff would say, we decided to be proactive peacemakers. We lowered expectations, struck unnecessary events and tasks off the schedule, and banned yelling. That last was a big one. Yelling has its place, I suppose, but if it’s happening every day, ten times per day, it’s gotten completely out of hand.
The second change came one day when I was walking the dog. Toward the end of our walk, I came across one of my neighbors. He was pacing up and down his driveway, a cell phone pressed to his ear, arguing with his ex-wife about something. I kept walking, trying not to make eye contact. Isn’t that what you do in such situations; try to mind your own business and forget about it.
Did I want to hear that man’s problems? No. Would I prefer him to have private arguments inside his house where I don’t have to hear them? Yes. What I realized, however, was that of all the people walking by who might have heard him, I was one who knew the Living God. I could pray for him, and the woman on the phone, and the children caught in the middle. So, that’s what I did. I had been doing this sort of thing for a while, only before, my efforts were less deliberate.
As a new foster parent, what got me through the rough patches was a growing understanding that I was becoming a dangerous warrior for God. I was like Luke Skywalker learning to use the Force. A little girl might throw a nuclear-powered tantrum as soon as I walked through the door, but when it was over, I would still love her and she’d love me. How can darkness do anything but flee from light as bright as that special knowledge? I could be like a tree for her winds to rage against, but she wouldn’t blow me over. My roots are too deep. To stand in that wind is a privilege, rare and precious, because it helps her heal.
If I can go through that, how simple it is to pray for my neighbors when their arguments come floating through my bedroom window at night. Apparently, the Enemy is so confident in my ineptitude that he thinks it wise to trouble my neighbors in plain sight. Well, good. In doing so, he gives away his position. Now I know how to pray for them.
I’ve been trying to think more-and-more like this. Sometimes we observe the work of the Enemy in passing, and other times we’re directly targeted. By becoming the target, we learn in a personal way the harm evil causes and the tremendous worth of redemption. And when quietly witnessing the troubles around us, we can serve as petitioners and advocates.
What’s the takeaway? We are God’s special children, princes and princesses, sent out into a mad and reckless world. Don’t close your eyes to trouble. The world needs you to see its problems and report them back to the King. And finally, we’re not to be reporters only—I think the angels could do that—but we should be doers, strivers, givers, patient endurers, helpers, and hope bringers.
“Turn away from evil and do good. Search for peace, and work to maintain it. The eyes of the LORD watch over those who do right, and his ears are open to their prayers. But the LORD turns his face against those who do evil.”
1 Peter 3:11-12 NLT