a love that fights
I used to consider myself a teacher and that was it. My job was to go to school, love my kids, and teach them. Teach them how to add and subtract. How to form and write a good sentence. How to read and comprehend a book. How to include others. How to be respectful, responsible, and kind. That was what I had been hired to do and I loved it.
But this year that all changed. I felt much less like a teacher. Instead, I was an advocate.
At the beginning of the book of Joshua, the Israelites are getting ready to cross the Jordan River and go into the land they had been promised long ago. After a failed attempt, it was finally their moment to reach their dream and inherit the blessings our Father was providing them with. But, they needed the help of others.
On the other hand, the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh were happily settled on the east side of the Jordan with their families in the land they had been given. They had all they needed and were finally at rest when Joshua reminds them of the command Moses had given them earlier to help the Israelites cross the Jordan River. Joshua says, “You are to help your brothers until the Lord gives them rest, as he has done for you, and until they too have taken possession of the land that the Lord your God is giving them. After that, you may go back and occupy your own land…”
Really Joshua? They are finally settled and have all they need and you want them to get up and go help the others…why can’t the Israelites do it themselves?
Welcome to the reality of what my school year was like.
Really Father? Another issue I have to deal with? Can’t I just have a day where everything goes as planned and everyone acts as they should? Do You really need to add this into the mix?
And here is what their response to Joshua was, “Whatever you have commanded us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go.”
What a response. One full of willingness. Humility. Selflessness.
They were called by their Father to help those who needed the help. They were called to be advocates. To step outside of themselves. Outside of their comfortable world, and help fight for those who needed it. And they did. They answered the call without hesitation.
How about the time when the Pharisees brought a woman to Jesus who was caught in the act of adultery? They were ready to stone her for her actions, but what did Jesus do? He advocated on her behalf and encouraged anyone who hadn’t sinned to throw a stone. It wasn’t long before it was only the two of them left, and instead of condemning her, Jesus extended grace and compassion and sent her on her way.
Or the many times when Jesus healed those that others wouldn’t touch or even speak to. He advocated for them. For the sick. The hurting. The blind. And the poor.
For those who had no voice, He was their voice. He provided restoration, healing, security, and a safe space for those who needed it. He helped meet their needs when they couldn’t do it on their own.
This is the heart of Jesus.
When I walk into school for the day, I have a master plan of how it is going to go, what I am going to accomplish, and what groups I am going to meet with. I have everything prepped and ready. And while it comes as no surprise, I am most comfortable when my day goes the way I planned it.
But that hasn’t been this year at all. This year I have been a voice for the voiceless. A counselor for the hurting. A safe place for the fearful. An encourager for the insecure and meek. A disciplinarian for those that needed it.
When my 27 kids entered my classroom in August for the first time, I had no idea the battles they were fighting, and the battles I was going to fight with them and for them. I only saw wide-eyed, nervous seven year olds who were anxiously awaiting my direction and guidance. I never imagined I would dig this deep into who they are as people and what they are truly facing.
But I did. I dug deep. Deep enough to keep myself up at night. To call my mom crying because of how badly my heart hurt for them. To involve the most important people in my life to be sure a special family had all the support they needed. Deep enough that now, four weeks from the end of the school year, my heart is so insanely attached to my kids, who they are, and who they are becoming, that I can’t quite imagine moving on from them.
This is the heart of Jesus.
To let yourself learn the deepest parts of others so that you might see them the way Jesus sees them, and then love them the way He does.
I’ve never felt more incapable than I did this year. There were days where I wondered how I would survive and what I was doing wrong. I questioned why my Father gave me this group. A group that challenges me hourly.
But now, in hindsight, I’m so extremely humbled. Humbled He picked me to take care of these children. To learn their hearts. Humbled He entrusted me to help mold and shape their sweet, tender, and innocent spirits. To serve them. To listen to them. To support them. To love them.
I look back at this year with amazement.
I am in awe of the ways He grew me and used me for His kingdom.
Not so much because of my teaching, but because of my advocating.
You see, I believe that the heart of our Father is for us to learn one another so deeply, that our love for each other becomes so powerful that we can’t help but fight each other’s battles.
Daily our Father chooses us. He knows us and spends time with us. And then He says, “Here I am.” He is always willing to help us fight our battles. To give us strength when we feel weak. An embrace when we feel alone. A surprise blessing when we feel discouraged.
Our Father created us as relational beings. He created fellowship and planted the deep desire to do life with one another inside of us.
So let’s lean into that. And not just lean into the relationships that we want to lean into, but the relationships that take us outside of our comfort zone and into one of true sacrifice, service, and ministry.
Jesus didn’t just advocate for His followers- the people He did life with. He fought for everyone, especially the ones that had no one else fighting for them. The ones that were desperate for a helping hand and someone to fiercely love them.
The Word and life of Jesus makes it blatantly obvious we are supposed to live this way. That we are to step outside of ourselves, and dig deep into the heart of others. That we are to be there for someone when no one else is. Galatians chapter six tells us to “carry one another’s burdens”.
No one is meant to walk through this life alone.
So Father, send the lonely, hurting, and needy people my way so I might dig deep, fiercely love them, and help carry their burdens.
You see, when Joshua sent the others to help the Israelites, they were asked to step outside of themselves, outside of their comfort zone, and be inconvenienced.
Being the hands and feet of Jesus is often an inconvenience. It isn’t always easy and it definitely isn’t always comfortable. But we were never promised a life of convenience, ease, and comfort. We were promised a life of trial and tribulation, but also one where our Father would always grant us peace and joy.
When Joshua gave his command, the people just said yes. Without grumbling and without hesitation. Their hearts were postured and ready to live a life filled with serving and loving others.
Father, let this be me. May I be someone you can send to fight for your children.
And Maliyah, may this be you. I have discovered this last year that nothing will make you feel more like you are walking in the will of our Father than loving and serving His people. Being His hands and feet to those who need it is what we are called to do, and it is what will build His kingdom.
So go. Find the lost, the hurting, and meek, and the poor. Dig deep, love fiercely, and fight for them.
Be an advocate to those who need it.
All my love,