Funny, how perception changes belief! Issues I have puzzled over for years finally came together recently when I added some new observations and put all of the pieces together.
I have often wondered why I was so drawn, years ago, to books by Dr. Tom Dooley. In those books he told stories of natives of Laos, Cambodia, and Thailand, of how they were tortured by the Communists, and of the primitive – if any – medical care they received. He was a doctor, and his tales made a huge impression upon me that has lasted a lifetime.
Then, too, there were my many and varied jobs (so many, that my friends would laughingly ask what I was doing that particular week) – most of them within a social services realm, and just about all of them involving some kind of interaction with people. Why was I so drawn to relating to people, and often, to trying to “fix” either them or their circumstances?
Last, but not least, I have worried about my faith – or lack of it – in general. I recently took a stand on some issues in which I strongly believe. I dislike confrontation, and I don’t enjoy taking stands. But current world events have alerted us to actual killings and persecutions that have been taking place in Iraq – merely for professing a belief in God. These concerns have caused me to question myself. If I were confronted by someone who was going to kill me if I did not convert to their religion, would I be strong enough to stand up for that which I believe? I don’t know.
So, when I heard a sermon about forgiveness that included the words from Romans 11:29-32, something clicked. In essence the passage says I have been forgiven so that I can have compassion and forgiveness for others. I also just began reading the book Surprised by Grace by Elizabeth Sherrill. Within the first few pages the author drew a connection for me that made so much sense. She wrote: “Nothing is more important… than that we keep track…of who we are and where we have come from and the people we have met along the way because it is precisely through these stories in all their particularity that God make Himself known most powerfully and personally.” Now that made sense to me! It helped me to fit my past with my present and explain things to me on a level I could both understand and support. I do love people, and I do believe in them – no matter their age, color, level of comprehension, or abilities. People are fascinating, delightful, and challenging, and I thoroughly enjoy getting to know every person I meet. I am much better, too, at taking stands on people, than I am on issues. If I stand up for people because God is in every one of them, then desiring compassionate and just treatment for all makes even greater sense to me, and I will fight to the death for that!
Thank you, Elizabeth Sherrill, for giving me new insights to see my story from a new and most helpful perspective!