Stranger in My House

The other day I realized there was a person living in the shed in my backyard. I rarely go out there so I didn’t really notice. I had seen that things in the backyard had been moved but it never really dawned on me that someone was there. Turns out this person has a family in a nearby town but the only job they could find to support that family was in our town. And because they did not have a vehicle that allows them to commute, they needed another option. Added to that is the struggle that paying for a second home in our town while supporting the family in the other town was just not financially possible. So they found a place in my shed.

Now the question is, what do I do? It’s my shed, my property and they’re trespassing. I could certainly call the police and have them arrested, but the reality is they haven’t caused much of a problem for me. As a matter of fact I now realize they’ve fixed the rotted part of my fence and even kept the bushes in the backyard trimmed. If I did have them arrested and then they couldn’t work, I also wonder what would happen to their family. It just seems like this is a person trying to do what they can in a tough situation and my life just happens to have been impacted by the circumstances (although the only reason my life is impacted is because someone else chose to do something illegal on my property).

As I thought about this I wondered, what if people like this knew my church could help them find a place and get situated with their family so they could avoid the legal struggle? What if there was a way for people of one town to relocate and get situated with their family so others can feel secure and safe and hopeful for the future? What if my church tried to help make that happen?

There’s lots of problems with that idea. My kids go to a school that’s already overfilled. Traffic in the area would certainly get worse. It might take longer to see the doctor or get my license tags or mail a package at the Post Office. But still, I just can’t get away from the picture of the children this person had taped up on the wall my shed – children with dimples and precocious smiles – is it possible I’m being called to help them find hope? It could mean working to improve schools or other services, and it could mean giving up some my personal comfort and convenience.

Makes me think of something I read:

If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death— even death on a cross.Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:1-11)

You may have guessed already, but the story is about immigrants in the U.S. – and yes, about those who come here illegally. I find myself struggling with the issues of LAW and GRACE. I just have been convicted that my law brain was tending to overshadow my grace heart (given to me by Jesus himself). And so now I wonder, what do I think with my brain if I let God lead me by my heart? There are no easy answers, but likewise, the problems people face with their families are not easy problems.

I’ll follow-up on this, probably next week. Until then, let’s say a prayer or two about what Jesus is calling us to do for others as we follow his lead of giving himself for us (law-breakers that we are).

Holy high five to you, Mike

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One response to “Stranger in My House

  1. I believe, if we treated others as we would like others to treat our children if we were not here we would get an idea of the right thing to do. After all, Christ is away preparing a place for us in heaven and I think that’s what He keeps telling us to do.

    I enjoyed your article and there are many that question this difficult issue. I’ve heard it argued that what they are doing is illegal and God tells us to be lawful. But at the same time, the Pharasees and the Seducees had a mindful eye for the law and Christ did not consider that to be faithful obedience.

    Will look forward to your followup article.

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