The world feels both full of potential and scary to most teens, and to many people in general.
This is truly a different day we are living in.
And yet, one of the wisest persons to ever live, King Solomon, commented, “There is nothing new under the sun”.
Truly, evil has existed for a long time, but good overcomes it, always. In overcoming and in expressing the love of Jesus, we become safe havens. Yes! Each and every one of us! We have the potential to provide shelter (emotionally, spiritually, and even physically, if needed) to those who are floundering around without an anchor.
So, how do we prepare ourselves to be a refuge to a teen in need?
Look to the Word…
…the heart of the Father is there.
“Be my strong refuge, to which I may resort continually; You have given the commandment to save me, for You are my rock and my fortress. Deliver me, O my God, out of the hand of the wicked, out of the hand of the unrighteous and cruel man. For You are my hope, O Lord God; You are my trust from my youth. … Do not forsake me when my strength fails. For my enemies speak against me;…. O God, do not be far from me; O my God, make haste to help me!…. O God, you have taught me from my youth;… Also Your righteousness, O God, is very high…. You shall increase my greatness, and comfort me on every side.” (Psalm 71)
Notice from this one Psalm alone the character of God the Refuge, who sent His Son Jesus the Greatest Friend, who left this earth for a time so that the Holy Spirit Comforter would come to us. God understands how to be a safe haven for us, and we can learn from Him.
So here are a few traits of a Person of Refuge, gleaned from above:
- Someone who can be resorted to continually
- Someone who acts in justice and against oppression when they see it
- Someone trustworthy
- Someone who is nearby and opens their lives, able to teach…
- Someone whose own example mirrors the righteousness of God (no one is fully perfect!)
- Someone who understands how to comfort, and
- Someone who can be truth in love
If you search through Scripture, and spend time with Jesus, you will be transformed “by default” into a person of refuge, as you give yourself to God’s leading. We are only as “safe” as we are teachable by Him. He will knock off our rough edges and purify us so that we can love without strings attached. So that we can welcome somebody who acts offensively. So that we, ourselves, can have unoffendable hearts. And so that we will be in a right place if the time comes to say, “I love you, and I can’t enable you…so I need to draw a line here…but I am always FOR you.”
Being a person of refuge means being willing to open our lives and our hearts. Isn’t this what discipleship is? Jesus told us to make disciples (not attenders). Disciples follow their instructor-friend through life, doing life with them. They absorb the victories, challenges, lifestyle, beliefs, inspirations, faith…so much.
Discipleship is to being a refuge as a painting is to mere sentences on a page. It speaks a thousand words.
It seems we’ve spoken enough words for many lifetimes, right?
But what kind of community could we create if we actually modeled being persons of refuge?