AJ works in the welfare sector (is that vague enough for you?!). It would be easy for this to descend (ascend?) into a post on the wonders of AJ (which there are many), so let me just say that he is an extraordinary man with more gifts and depth than most realise, and he is very good at this job. AJ has an ability to be compassionate and pragmatic, empathetic but not effected.
He is also a great teacher. You didn’t know that, did you?
He may not get up on a Sunday morning and preach, he may not even say much in a small group setting. But sitting around the BBQ with his mates, having a beer, telling stories, that is when you will hear the riches of his experiences. That is when you will hear the Kingdom of God ride in on words of compassion and grief. That is when you will get to see the grandness of God’s justice and dignity – because my husband carries them in his hands. He has taught me that inequality comes in all shapes and forms. He has taught me, and to those close to him, that all people deserve dignity and compassion.
AJ is also a cyclist. AJ is not built like a cyclist. He is 6ft 3, broad shouldered and all torso. Often people will comment that he doesn’t look like a cyclist, to which he shrugs and smiles. He knows that most people don’t ‘look’ like who they are. He knows that most of us are carrying pain and grief just below the surface.
AJ reminded me again today that when God spoke of the homeless and loveless, He did so in the hope that we would know that there was never meant to be ‘the homeless’ or ‘the loveless’. That the great sorrow of this world is that there are those who know no home or love or dignity. When Scripture speaks of the widows and orphans, we are meant to grieve the reality that they walk among us. We are meant to understand that inequality in all its dark forms is as far removed from the Kingdom of God as east is from the west.
AJ has taught me to lay down my fear and anger and to pick up compassion and dignity instead. He knows there is little room or time for my raging at the unknown and unfixable. He is teaching me to lift my head, hold out my hand and walk with the widows, the homeless, the loveless and the broken. For that is reality of the Kingdom of God.
‘She did what she could’. Mark 14:8
With her understanding, with her resources, with her hands and heart – she did what she could.
I hope I am not simplifying this. That blessed moment when Mary anoints Jesus before his death is heavy in truth and rich in the Kingdom of God. It is a brief moment amidst an epic story. But in that moment Mary’s heart is revealed and so is Jesus’. She did what she could, and it moved Him.
Last night I finished reading ‘Refuse to do nothing’, by Shayne Moore and Kimberly McOwen Yim.
While I was reading about the child soldiers in Southern Sudan there was a moment when I felt like there was a literal internal crash as my heart met with the reality of these children. These two worlds slammed together, mine in all its middle class comfort, and these stolen children. I hope it scarred me for life. I hope my heart is never the same.
It is overwhelming, complex and confronting.
As it should be.
This pursuit of understanding justice has unsteadied me. But it feels like the right thing to be doing. I need to delve deep into God and his word. I need to sit under a tall tree and expect the Spirit to come and share the deep truths of equality and dignity.
I will read. I will write. I will connect with organisations. I will get educated and I can share knowledge. That is a good place to start. This will be the beginning of ‘doing what I could’.
And I can pray.
I can pray that the kingdom of God is racing towards these children with a holy resolve and urgency.
There are some great organisations out there, please check them out. They are doing amazing work.
Free the Slaves
International Justice Mission
I stumbled over this verse this morning, and I am left gasping for breath and on my knees.
‘The thinking of principled people makes for justice; the plots of degenerates corrupt’.
Proverbs 12: 5 (The Message)
When I decided that ‘reclaim’ was my word for 2013, I believed that God ‘reclaiming justice’ was a part of that journey. I wasn’t sure what that meant, and it’s still a little hazy now. But I do think that it has to do with rescuing my interpretation of ‘justice’ from the mire of jargon and the layers of guilt it is buried under.
I also believe that it is a terrifying roar from heaven.
How I have ignored the simple request to ‘love them’. How I have defended my indifference.
I have hidden behind my books and study; I have lost myself in words and inaction.
‘The THINKING of principled people makes for justice’… Perhaps, just perhaps, all these words and books and thinking can be a stepping stone?
Perhaps this is part of the plan?
Gods kingdom come, His will be done…if I pray this, if I believe this, I cannot abide injustice.
God is not going to offer me an alternative.