Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Stranger Danger

A Stranger. Stranger danger. Beware of eye contact on a plane when you are traveling alone. Keep your wallet in your front pocket just in case. Always look over your shoulder before entering your car. The warnings rattle around in our heads 24/7. The warnings become a part of who we are.

Strangers. They are all around us. The world would have us be fearful, look away, and protect our person and our possessions when among "Strangers." Wise. And yet, what does God's Word have to say about strangers?

"Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. ESV" - Hebrews 13:2

43 Bible Verses about Strangers: http://bible.knowing-jesus.com/topics/Strangers

Recently I have come to understand the need for hiring a Stranger. A Visiting Angel sits with a man so that his wife can get a respite from the arduous task of caring for her husband who recently became a victim of dementia. He actually thinks his wife is a Stranger and works for a government agency. He has convinced himself she wants to take eminent domain of his residence. She has become a Stranger to him even after 50+ years of marriage.

The Visiting Angel - a Stranger who has instantly gained access into his world of darkness and insanity has quickly become a trusted confidante and a shoulder for this woman to cry on. The Visiting Angel had quickly accepted her role in the life of a man who capably raised 4 children and dreamed about the day he would celebrate his Golden Years. No doubt he envisioned sitting in the sun and reaping the rewards of a job well done. He surely couldn't wait to tinker in his garage and tend to his herb garden as he guided his grand children into adulthood. That plan was not to be. But a Visiting Angel entered a Stranger one day and easily left a friend the very same day.That was her role and she played that role well.

Strangers pretend you are invisible as they pass you by. I remember when I was a child as I walked alongside my Mother Strangers would smile at us. I mimicked my Mom and began smiling back. It wasn't until many years later when I had gum surgery and could not smile at Strangers that I realized the reason Strangers smiled at my Mom and then later me.  I realized my Mom had been smiling at Strangers and then they smiled back. The smile was ignited as we made eye contact. This was a chain reaction which occurred and which I had learned from my Mom. What a gift she had given me!

As a result of not being able to smile because of gum surgery when I was 42 I realized the power of the smile chain reaction. The gum surgery and inability to smile made me sad and so I struggled to then share a smile with just my eyes. It did not work. Because my smile did not happen a smile was not returned. My world was not the same until I could smile again...

Being almost 50 now, I realized this week that I smile less. With all of the ills of this world and the lack of love I see around me, I have begun to frown more than I smile. I looked in the mirror the other day and realized I had tiny frown lines beginning to form. I had never seen those marks before. Just for fun I smiled and then my entire face became beautiful again! In that moment I vowed to smile even when no one is around. Who wants jowls and frown lines? Besides, practicing a smile never did a body harm.

A Stranger can return a smile. He or she will still be a Stranger but will become a Stranger with a smile. One of my favorite Bible stories is the Good Samaritan. There was no smile in store for the Samaritan. He did the right thing because he knew the wrong thing was to walk by and remain a Stranger. In that story, the Stranger Danger was walking by and doing  nothing. And God in His Goodness has given us that story to remind us that Strangers are people placed in our path to provoke us to not just smile but to be the hands and feet of Christ.

My hope this year is to engage. To look for the need, to hear the woman 4 stalls away sobbing and to not only leave vowing to pray but asking if this Stranger is okay. The danger is in not asking to help. The danger is regretting to respond to that orchestrated situation in which God placed me to help, to love, to be the salt and light in a dying world.

How many Strangers have you pretended were invisible as you walked by today? Dare to step out of your comfort zone. Try some eye contact. Try a smile, a hello, a hint of a greeting. Be wise but be bold. http://www.kingjamesbibleonline.org/Bible-Verses-About-Angels/

These are the days in which we cannot faint, fall, or follow anything or anyone which does not lead us closer to the Cross! After all, we truly are just Strangers ourselves - in a strange land.  So why not roll up your sleeves and smile? It's a start! And it is contagious! More smiles = less frowns and the grand total of this equation is a whole lot more LOVE. And at the end of the day Love is what Jesus did for us on the Cross and Love is what this world needs more of.  

Drop me a line and let me know about your Stranger story today! I will cheer as I smile a big smile because I can! If ya got it - use it!!

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