This morning I sat weeping for a twelve year old girl
I used to hear people mention the “scandal of grace”. I didn’t ever really get that, as Grace was hard for me to fathom in its basic form. Let alone to scandalous levels. So it sounded good and lofty, but devoid of weight in my life experience. But as I come to know Grace in increments and experiences, I see a tiny smidgen of the scandal involved. The parable of the estate owner in Matthew 20, who hired workers at all hours of the day, yet paid them all the same, is one portrayal. We demand justice. God delights in mercy. We want what we feel we’ve earned and deserve. God wants to give us what we didn’t. Unmerited favor. But for me, the most scandalous part of grace, is also the most offensive to our sense of justice. It violates our system of doing good and being rewarded vs doing bad and being punished. Grace violates the law and is then persecuted by the law and law-minded people. Because the true scandal of grace lies in the fact that God Loves and Jesus died for both the victim and the perpetrator of every crime. He loved Cain and He loved Abel. He loves the pimp and the prostitute; the alter boy and the priest who violated him; the abusive parent and the cowering child. He loves the demon possessed and the pure in heart; the adulterer and the one who is heart broken by the infidelity; the child pornographer and the innocent scarred life involved; the soldier with post traumatic stress from all he has seen and done in the conflict, as well as those he had to take action against. God loves to see justice turned on its ear in the face of mercy. He desires to see all people saved regardless of worthiness. To know that those who wrongly use us, betray us, wound us, are equally loved and accepted by God along with us...this, to me, is the scandal of grace.
by Debra Elmore
This Saturday afternoon was different out on the streets. Each Outreach is its own as we engage different people in different places on their journey to survive. We are so grateful that one of the girls has found a safe place to stay for a few weeks while she transfers her probation and we transition her to a residential recovery home in Nashville. It takes time to get those things in order. However, she is staying clean and ready to go so we are walking her through each step one day at a time. If we had Rahab's Rest operational, she would have come home to safety 2 weeks ago without navigating through this transitional red tape. Many in our culture think "displacing them" is the best option and for some it is. BUT, shouldn't they be able to find restoration in their a community of caring healthy human beings they already know and trust walking beside them in the process? These are beautiful human beings made in the image of God worthy of love, respect and care from within the walls of the Church, social service agencies and recovery and health providers in our own community.
Ninety eight percent of women in street prostitution say they want out but what keeps them out there is not knowing how they will have money or food to eat. They just keep jumping in and out of cars hoping the next trick will not beat, rape or kill them so they can pay for their next hit of whatever to make the shame and fear go away. Moreover, what about those tricks? Many are married, many are sex addicts, many are blue-collar workers, many violent criminals but many are in positions of leadership - teachers, doctors, lawyers, executives. SIN and addiction do not discriminate. Do we? When we think about prostitution, do we stop with the ones who are actually selling themselves or being sold forgetting about the ones who are paying for them? The women are NOT the problem, childhood abuse, neglect, abandonment, mental illness, addiction, diseases and their effects on human beings who have lived through them are. Where does a child go when their parents are junkies and one of their male friends traps her in a corner when she is seven then proceeds to molest her for the next year? She is displaced to her a family member who takes her up North. She proceeds to have what seems like "a normal childhood." One day they bring her back to her parents’ house and she is, once again, pawned off to whatever man walks in the door so they can pay for their addiction. Before long, she is lost in her own addiction hiding in a prison of shame. This is her story but she has found Hope in the people of Love's Arm and by golly, we are going to get her to a place where she can heal. It is just so unfortunate that it can't be in the Greatest Little City in America that she calls home.