Recently I attended a public forum where the issue of homelessness was discussed along with opinions and options for solutions. I find these meetings helpful, because I can find out not only what perceptions people have about homelessness but also some very creative ideas will almost always emerge which could have some application to Visalia Rescue Mission.
However, one theme emerged that was troubling. Some were saying that the practical solution to our sociological and personal problems were to become so enraged that our political leaders would be forced to listen and submit to our demands.
It occurred to me that approaching problem solving with anger and outrage is nearly identical to the methods employed daily by the homeless and addicted community. They are despairing of their circumstances so they either lapse into passive aggressive manipulation or demanding and confrontive aggression and sometimes, even violence. One sign that our general population is despairing of the culture is that anger, rage and confrontation are becoming more common, and even an everyday occurrence. We hear it on the radio, we see it on the evening news, and we see it in our popular discourse on a more regular basis. It reminds me of the basic tenant of rescue ministry; that the higher the emotional arousal, the less rational the conversation becomes. We spend a lot of time working on de-escalation and the calming of conflict. Heated rhetoric rarely achieves a satisfactory outcome. Patience and honest humility usually calm the rage. In Isaiah 1:18 God appeals to a stubborn and rebellious nation by inviting them to make a calm and reasoned assessment of both the consequences of continued rebellion against God or the blessings and relief that will be obtained by repentance. The choice is between rebellious rage that demands “rights” or a calm repentance that changes both the state of mind and the whole trajectory of life.
This is the choice we all face in our daily lives before God. Am I going to keep going in a self-destructive despairing direction that will surely end in tragedy and loss, or a calm repentance that leads to life?
I have the opportunity to interact on a regular basis with people who live in desperate fear of loss yet cannot seem to break out of the patterns of life that create that very desperation. The disheveled individual pushing a shopping cart down the shoulder of a dusty road has all that he values in his entire life contained in a wire basket in front of him. He will not willingly give it up. Our homeless friend needs the benefits of repentance! Paul says in 2 Corinthians 7:10 that “godly sorrow produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret.” When you see spiritual eyes become open and old unreasonable behaviors are left behind shedding sorrow and regret; those are the moments we live for here at Visalia Rescue Mission! The stories of new directions leaving behind old habits, leaving behind despair and certain death that give way to an emerging new life filled with joy and relief. It is the “reasonable discussion” with which God confronts all of us. “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow, though they are red like crimson, they shall become as wool!” The Lord goes on to say that if they are willing and repent, they shall inherit good, but if not, they will inherit disaster! On September 12, 2019 VRM is holding our annual banquet and celebration of stories of Repentance and Redemption on our campus. Please come and celebrate with us!