Exodus 22:21 “You shall not wrong a sojourner or oppress him, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.”
I’m traveling to Washington D.C. to begin an internship under the pastoral team of Capitol Hill Baptist Church as a member of that local congregation. We begin on January 4. As we travel across the country I feel particularly vulnerable.
It’s easier to oppress a sojourner than a local resident of the community, even today. A sojourner is not familiar with the area, the law enforcement, the phone numbers, the culture, and the people. If a local were assaulted he would at least know the area and have some web of relationships that can come to his aid in a way that is not possible when you are half-way through the country and your friends and family are 700+ miles away. Maybe that is why God, in his kindness, commands people not to wrong or oppress the sojourner, because they are particularly vulnerable and it can become a stronger and more enticing temptation to one who is given to some form of self-centeredness.
I am learning two lessons from this journey across the country:
- This feeling of vulnerability I have right now is a way of sensing what is always the case, namely that I am vulnerable and not in control of my surroundings or even my life. I can be killed or crippled at any moment and left unable to protect my pregnant wife. I will do my best, but there are some situations, like the 5 guys outside my motel room, who, if they wanted to rob us and rape my wife would easily be able to do it given our situation and vulnerability. But is it any different at home? Am I more in control of the sinners around me and my circumstances just because I grew up and lived in an area for a long time? I don’t think so. It could easily happen down the street from my house. So I’m learning that we are always actually vulnerable (even though we don’t feel vulnerable) and that somehow I get into a comfortable niche where I live and get numb to the hundreds of circumstances in my day that are completely out of my control. I don’t like this feeling of vulnerability, but as I think and write I may hate my numbness to my everyday actual vulnerability even more. Which leads to my 2nd lesson…
- Why does God allow me to feel vulnerable? If all things work together for good, then how is he working this together for my good? I’ll be honest, I don’t like the feeling of vulnerability. But I do praise God that he’s making me more aware of how much I need him and how much he must be trusted. God is showing me my faith is weak and my numbness to actual vulnerability is strong. So, though I don’t enjoy this feeling, I do praise God for calling me to trust and call on him and consciously depend on him, knowing he is good and will work all things (including suffering and sin) together for my (and my wife’s) good. Lord, please help me to trust your promises now and lead and protect my wife well.