Tuesday, November 7, 2017

No Safe Places

About this time last year, we fired one of our guards. The relationship quickly deteriorated and after weeks of threats to our family, we ended up paying him a large sum of money on the condition he sign a letter stating he would stop harassing us and the others who work for us. It was all a big mess, extremely hurtful, and a hugely stressful.

Coming back from furlough, I hoped I wouldn’t see him. Maybe he would think we’d left for good and would stop coming by our house? Maybe we could live peacefully this next term? But Wamena is a small town. I was sure at some point word would get out that we were back, or perhaps I’d run into him in town somewhere. I prepared for both scenarios.

Here in Wamena I don’t feel safe a lot of the time. It’s not that we’re under some kind of immediate threat, it’s just that over last term we had so many things happen that I tend to stay constantly on alert. I never know when something bad will happen again.

But there is one place in town were we could go and always feel safe. Nothing bad seemed to ever happen there. I enjoyed the reprieve and could let down my guard. 
One morning last week I went to visit my safe place. As I came around the corner on my bike, there was our old guard! My heart beat wildly – what was he doing here? How could this happen? This is my safe place!!!

Earlier that morning I’d read and highlighted a section in my Experiencing God devotional book, “Your opponent’s hostility is your invitation to become involved in God’s redemptive work to free him or her from spiritual bondage. Be alert to the spiritual warfare around you. It is real and potentially destructive to you and those you care about. Knowing your real foe will protect you from bitterness and unforgiveness. Your hope lies in the reality that “the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world” (1 John 4.4) Do not place your hope in humanity, but steadfastly trust in the One who has already defeated your enemy.” 

While the panic rose in my chest, the morning’s devotional came flooding back. He is not the real enemy. Fight the real enemy.

I came home and cried. This is so hard, Lord! It’s not fair that he’s in my one safe place! I have no more safe places! This is so hard and so unfair!

Honestly, it sucks. The whole entire things sucks a lot. I’ve seen him again several times and while our exchanges have been cordial, I wonder just how long it will take him to turn on us. 

Sometimes it is so very difficult to see the real enemy. 

This morning I read in 2 Corinthians 2 were Paul urges the believers to forgive someone who deeply hurt them. He urges the believers to forgive “so that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant to his designs.”

So I fight to forgive. It’s not easy. I’d rather bury the past and all the hurt. I’d rather not risk seeing someone who could hurt us again. I’d rather have my safe place back.

But then God’s like, “This was never your safe place anyway. It’s always been me.”