Streets connect to more streets that connect to small alleys that lead to canals with bridges all laced with flowers and the seasoning of "old" everywhere. It's like walking through an intricate map of history and art and beauty. We Georgia born travelers allow ourselves to be intrigued and entranced when we visit different places. But wandering along the beautiful streets of this jewel of Holland can lead you to the areas that are red with color not blooming on flower stems and smoke filled shops with glassy eyed patrons. So unique, yet so earthbound.
Some might call us idiotic for walking along these streets and not carefully guarding our turns, especially with out 19 year old treasure beside us. And it is true, we should guard and guide, protect and prepare him in every way possible. But does that mean he should remain ignorant to and shielded from the realities of life in this old raw world? Some would protest a God-loving mother walking beside her son through the good and the bad, the pretty and the ugly. Goodness knows, years ago i would have been protesting it myself. But God changes those parts of us... when we let Him.
I've pondered it long and prayed it deep and wondered --- if my Abba were walking beside me, would i only find Him in the polished, proper places?
Christ said He came for the sick --- not the healthy... (Mark 2:17, Luke 5:31, Matthew 9:12)
So does that mean that His healthy sons and daughters should stay far from the "sick"?
I grew up thinking it only logical ---- if i'm "healthy" then i need to stay away from where the "sick" people are --- otherwise i might catch what they have --- and no longer be healthy.
And in the world of germs ---- this is a completely accurate view.
But what about in the world of souls?
Do we apply germ rules to souls --- thinking our "holiness" will remain holier if we stay far from anything unholy?
What would my Savior say if He were literally walking beside me through the winding streets of Amsterdam?
Oh how i love His Word --- it guides us to have a degree of knowing of what He would say... if we would just pause long enough to authentically ask.
He loved His followers. He took His last supper with them. He walked with them and taught them, He laid down to rest at night beside them and prayed with them in the garden (well, he tried to).
But He could also be found eating with sinners and asking to visit tax collectors in their homes. He talked with women of ill-repute in public places and intervened when mob-justice was being inflicted on an adulteress. He looked for those whose position in life had revealed their great need of His love ---- and He went to them.
Makes me HOME-sick just writing about His courageous goodness.
However --- we/i am not Christ. We are not God. We are not perfect and holy and righteous and able ---- not us. We can't endure 40 days of fasting and then wield the Sword of Scripture to defeat the enemies temptations --- can we?
But then again --- He said --- "Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father." John 14:12
Rolling all this through our hearts, souls, and minds ---- flushes out the thoughts of germ logic in the spirit realm.
Fear would say ---- stay far away from red light districts --- what kind of mother are you? He might "catch" something if you let him see that there really are places like that in this world and there really are women who sit in windows in the daylight willing to ...
But deep in the gut of my soul --- i hear my Father God say to me --- pray over everything first, and then be brave enough to show your son ---- always remembering --- I am stronger.
I, God, am stronger.
And I, God, in you, will not hide from the ugly that evil inflicts. I want my children to walk with confidence and love --- confidence in my cover over them and love for all, especially those who are suffering.
I do not want my children to hide from those who are hurting --- for fear of being pulled into hurt-filled places.
I comfort my children so they can bring comfort to others ---- not so they can sit comfortably in places of leisure.
Oh God --- it gets so twisted in this twisted world.
My son, my 19 year old beautiful son, walked beside his father and i and witnessed shame-faced woman sitting in windows wearing undergarments that covered more than some swim-suits on most beaches ---- but we knew, they knew, he knew ---- they were sitting behind glass willing to go into the pit --- for a few dollars. And i felt my Savior's grief roll through me. One beautiful young woman did not have shame smeared on her face -- well, not yet --- she had more of the look of rebellion. She was the poised picture of the woman in Proverbs 5. But i knew, God help her, the enemy who had drawn her to where she now sat, would soon feed her much more, and the bile in her gut would destroy.
God help her.
Just moments later we passed 2 or 3 more windows. In those windows the women were not young, they were tired. There was no gleam of lust in their eyes, instead there was shame and sadness. I prayed for the oldest one, she was older than me, and i ached for her as she watched me walk along with two strong, loving men beside me.
My dear Steve said, "i wonder if they have chosen this life, or if it has been inflicted on them?" Our son saw our sadness for these woman, without too many words, he was learning from the Holy Spirit.
Steve said, "I wonder if they could choose between the lust from many men or the true love of one man, which would they choose...?" Good words for our son to process. We prayed for growth of understanding and wisdom --- for a fanning of God-placed flames inside him for what is right and true and honorable and excellent...
But it was important for our son to experience walking past those doors. Stopping at those doors would bring death to living bones. Walking past them with our son gave opportunity to open his eyes to more than the ladies would have wanted him to see. We talked long...
Judgement was not present --- pious Christianity has no place on those streets.
Grief and sorrow, love and grace, wisdom and discernment ---- yes.
We turned a corner and headed back to a park area. A man passed by us holding a huge dog on a leash. The man was walking at a fast pace, the dog's long muscular legs had no trouble keeping up with him. Then, just ahead of us, we noticed another man walking towards us with a huge white, pit-bulldog at his side. No leash was on the pit's neck, only a collar. Nothing controlled him, except the authority of his owner. The two men and their large (impressive) dogs met on the street just 10 feet in front of us. We cringed as they passed one another -- the dogs were only inches apart. The bulldog's master slowly reached down and grasped his dog's collar.
The leashed dog lunged for the bulldog, barking deep and loud, the force of his strength echoed off the brick walls that surrounded us all. We jumped in alarm fully expecting the unleashed larger dog to return the volley and attack. But the owner of the bulldog only smiled as they continued walking completely unaffected by the leashed aggressor. As they walked past us, the man chuckled lightly with a look on his face that said, "no worries, not intimidated, not distracted, we have somewhere we need to be..."
And it struck me ---- that's the picture of us with Christ.
Our Lord does not leash us to control us. He guides us by training us in the right ways and He loves us as we learn. We walk at His pace where He leads us not because we have to, but because we long to be near Him and want to follow. We know being beside Him is the best place of all.
And when things become too intense, we can count on the feel of His hand upon us. Just as the bulldog owner grasped the collar of his dog, our Lord will touch us and let us know what He wants us to do (or not do) "His rod and His staff, they comfort me..."
He knows us well and understands our plight. He knows we will need help. There are times we will be tempted to lung into places we should not be. We need His hand to guide us. But that does not mean He will leash us to control us. He allows us always to choose.
The other dog had to be leashed, controlled. It did not walk beside its master of its own, it was forced to follow him and comply with his pulls on the leather strap around its neck. Just like the ladies who sat in the windows. Someone (or something) was in control of them. They worked for someone who told them what they could and could not do ---- they had chosen (or been forced into the hands of) a controlling master. They might just as well of had a leather strap around their necks. God help them.
The "controlled" (leashed) dog showed no restraint --- it lunged for and would have attacked the "uncontrolled" (unleashed) dog. But the unleashed bulldog proved it had the most control of all --- its eyes never wavered from its master in front of it. It did not even flinch at the would-be attack.
If our eyes stay fixed on our good, good Master, we can be steadfast as we follow the path He guides us down. Even a pit-bulldog in the catacombs of Amsterdam can teach this daughter of God.
It was a lesson from the Hand of El Roi, the God who sees us.
He saw us walking along the streets. He knew our reason for allowing our son to see with his own eyes that evil is present and it has leashes on those who dabble with it.
And i prayed silently for the strength, power, self-control, and focus of the obedient white pit-bull to be multiplied in the dearly-loved men who walked beside me.
©2013 Donna Taylor/Reaching for the Robe