A prostitute makes 'her corner' at the end of my street, tonight. She flashes her smile and shows interest to anyone slowing down.
My first thoughts were of anger. Of punishment. Of jail.
My second thoughts were of fear. Are we living in the right neighborhood? Is crime really on our doorstep? Are our kids safe? Do we need to move?
But most troubling to me is this:
I realized I know her. She's sat right across from me, in my home, on my couch. We've talked and eaten together and laughed.
She's a real person.
She's not the sum of her actions tonight.
Sometimes life seems neater when that stuff stays on the other side of town. Or when it only happens in the movies.
I don't know a lot about it, I realize. I imagine she gets hungry. She wants out. She wants to be numb. She won't think about it. She'll do what she has to do.
And she still has the capacity to wonder if God could love her. Will she find out? How will her story end?
I'd love to say I know what to do tonight, but I don't. I don't want to contribute to the white picket fence version of Christianity. But I sit here nervous as I think about walking out my front door and down to her "workplace" to talk.
I don't know how successful her night will be, but I know at the end of it, she will still be hollow.
And I know that the God she's at least sometimes seeking understands prostitution. After all, His people have prostituted themselves for years.
His concern for us as prostitutes, while at times did involve punishment, never involved fear. He wasn't compelled to move away from us...but rather to pursue us. I now realize it wasn't coincidental that God led me to read the book and retelling of the story of Hosea recently.
Now's the question:
Will I choose to look like my God? Or will I just theorize about it?
Will I be that "minister of reconciliation" that He calls me to be? Or will I just seek the healthy, the safe, the reasonable?
Will I let her know that He offers "freedom for the prisoners, and release to the oppressed", though I fear she'll not believe it for all she's experienced in life? Will I trust Him to answer for her the questions I can't?
Do I risk my own safety to do so when there's another man across the street, likely watching her and making sure she does her job?
It's comfy here in front of my computer.
It's past midnight.
It won't make a difference, really.
I have kids to think about.
No one would blame me for not going out. Some would call me stupid and unwise if I did.
But if I don't go.... if WE don't go.... "crime" does creep up to our doorstep. Crime in the form of people, making desperate choices, missing out on something more. On Someone more.
Because we're too scared to offer the name of our God to transform the "lawbreaker". Because we've decided the prostitute probably wouldn't be open to Him changing her life. Because that's just a bit more messy than we like to deal with.
A reminder to myself, and to you, if you need it.
The gates of Hell will not prevail against that Name... so we have nothing to lose.
"He is no fool, who gives up what he cannot keep, to gain what He cannot lose."
And she has everything to gain. Such is the preciousness of the gospel.
She, though she doesn't believe it yet, and may consider me a fool to suggest it, is the target of Christ's affection. I don't have to prove it to her... He has, and will.
But He has entrusted the telling her of that to me. To let her in on it. To show her. To help her believe He could love her by showing her I can and do. To love Him more than I think about myself so she has a shot of receiving all He offers her. To invite her back into my home... back on my couch. To eat together, and laugh together again.
And maybe, to give her a chance for freedom.
If she doesn't take the offer... I've nothing to loose.
If I don't make the offer... she's got nothing better than the corner at the end of my street.