“Cities of Refuge” were designated cities to which one who had accidentally committed manslaughter could run in order to escape the pursuit of the avenger of blood. No part of Palestine was more than 30 miles away from a city of refuge. Provisions were made so principal roads were always open, every river bridged, and every turn marked so that a man who was running for his life might have a chance. You can read about these cities in Numbers 35, Deuteronomy 19, and Joshua 20.
I am not guilty of manslaughter (some people better thank God for His restraining grace in my life), but there have been times when I needed a “city of refuge.” Maybe you too have experienced times when you wanted to go somewhere and cry out, “I’m beat!,” “I’ve had it!,” “I am sunk!” Times when you felt like you were running for your life. When you didn’t know if you could hang on any longer. When you needed someone to be kind and tenderhearted, gentle and sensitive (Ephesians 4:32, NLT & The Message).
I am so thankful that Southern Hills is a “city of refuge” where people can find that chance to live again. If you find yourself in this place now, I would encourage you to talk with someone from our Soul Care Team.
If you are not running for your life—then you need to open your arms and let someone run to you. You need to be kind. A good beginning place is to:
- Remember. Strange, isn’t it: we remember the things we ought to forget and and forget the things we need remember. Remember God’s kindness toward you, and do not “presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience (Romans 2:4, ESV). Am I so much better than others that I should withhold what I have received from God? Try to remember what hopelessness feels like.
- Take the risk. Jump into it wholeheartedly. God did not buy my salvation with Jesus’ blood by calculating the risk. A good businessman looking at the cross would say, “It’s not worth it; the returns are not good enough.” But God trades in kindness, not investments. And so should His people. Paul said, “But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God.” (Acts 20:24) A hundred years from now you will not care one bit if someone took advantage of you and used your generosity and kindness against you. Take the risk. Geronimo!
The late J. Wallace Hamilton (Still the Trumpet Sounds) writes of a TV drama he watched based on the true story of the kidnapping of a young businessman. The DA asked the newspapers not to print anything to give the police a chance to find the victim and his abductors. Hamilton says it was fascinating to watch those newsmen restrain in order to save a man’s life. When the search successfully ended, a hard-bitten city editor sat at his desk saying, “For twenty-five years I’ve been writing stories about life. This is the first time I’ve had a part in making the story come out right.”
God’s people—kind people (1 Corinthians 13:4, Galatians 5:22) always look for opportunities to make the story come out right. Accept those who need a place of refuge and a demonstration of God’s kindness.