In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
- Luke 10:30-37
“People don’t want to listen to a cassette of some sermon when the bottom drops out. They want a place to cry … a person to care … someone to bind up their wounds … someone to listen … the security of a few close, intimate friends who won’t blab their story all over the church … who will do more than say, ‘I’ll pray for you.’ They want refuge.
“Stop and think. Who and where is your refuge for bruised believers?”
- Charles R. Swindoll, The Finishing Touch
First, the Swindoll quote comes from the early 90s, when cassettes were king – okay, starting to fade. Now, it would be downloading an “app,” watching a video, or downloading a file for your phone or computer. And that totally skips the CD generation.
My wife and I are in that mood right now – of wanting refuge. She has seven siblings, but none have the multitude of serious problems that she has. Yes, a couple do not think as clearly as they once did. She had a brother die of kidney failure, refusing dialysis. She used to talk to her mother, and her mother confided in her things that she would never tell the others. Maybe that was because my wife lived a three-day journey away and there was less possibility of having the secret slip in conversation with someone that my mother-in-law knew, but it was probably because my wife was the eldest daughter.
We are not “that old,” but we are starting to understand how some old people lament about being the “last” of one group or another. My wife and I seem to befriend older people, with whom we probably have more in common with their values.
Just before I went to Tennessee to pick up my wife after five months of babysitting, I wrote about needing a hug. I have gotten a lot of hugs from my wife since then, but only her. The COVID restrictions keep everyone else at bay. My wife read an article about people with cognitive impairment issues, as she is starting to face, and the article said that dementia, in all its forms, can accelerate when there is no human contact and interaction.
In other words, for many people around us, the lockdown is causing some to lose their income leading to serious financial problems, but what of those who lose their mind as a result of isolation?
Then, you have a couple of weeks in a row where something nasty is happening every day of the week, and you are stuck in the middle of nasty, right there, sitting on the “s”. And the “s” is making a hissing sound, and you are thinking, “I hope the ‘s’ has sprung a slow leak. Otherwise, the hissing may be a snake! Just what I need, another problem.”
Yes, some of us need a refuge more than others. I told my wife that I did not need a refuge as much as I need an answer to prayer like Joshua got, adding an extra day in while the sun stopped in the sky, just to get caught up on writing, Medicare free enrollment, insurance paperwork, editing the church’s prayer list, and studying for next week’s Sunday school lesson. That may not sound like a lot, but it all takes time. Then my wife’s health issues, a divisive election, neighborhood troubles, family troubles, and then you just want to run to the nearest church, give the altar a big hug, and yell, “Sanctuary!” Which novel among the list of classic literature has that scene? I know that I have read it.
We all need refuge, some more than others at times, but we all need it.
God promises us refuge. Jesus promised that He would share the yoke of our burdens. And I think that the Bible’s teaching about not shunning the communion with other believers is for the very reasons that I have mentioned above. We simply need a hug now and then.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.