I am fascinated with the details associated with the six cities of refuge outlined in the book of Numbers. In short, those cities were designated as “safe zones” for Israelites who were in danger. Perhaps they were accused of accidentally killing a neighbor. The murderer could flee to one of these towns and would be protected while an investigation ensued.
God set up those cities as literal places of refuge. He knew that the human experience is complicated and there would be plenty of opportunities for men and women to “blow it.” He wanted to make sure there was a “legal” procedure for sorting out the guilt and a safe place for the accused.
During our time of human history, we no longer have such literal cities of refuge. But I have come to believe that God intended for His kids to be a kind of refuge for others.
Stop just for a second and “walk” through your “world.” Is everyone well adjusted? Happy? Content? Healthy? Settled in wonderful families? Safely ensconced in financially stable environments? Everyone free from pain?
I am betting that the answer is NO. Truth is, many of our co-workers, family members and neighbors are scurrying around with real needs. They have been hurt, misunderstood, ignored, and rebuffed. They suffer from physical and mental pain. They are pressured on many fronts.
They need a place of refuge. A “place” to go where they can be heard. A safe “place.” I have come to believe that that “place” is the responsive heart of a caring believer, someone like you or me.
So what does a person of refuge look like? Well, they have big “ears” and even bigger hearts. They listen better than they talk. They are patient. They are flexible. They give away time as an incredible investment. They see themselves as a “place” of relief and refreshment.
Maya Angelou once remarked, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
This week let’s all be challenged to be places of refuge for our neighbors and friends. Let’s put out the welcome sign for those who are hurting.
And remember, it won’t be long until it’s our turn to go find a “place” of refuge. We need to “pay it forward!”