Avoid Becoming Misplaced

Why do some Homeless persons want to remain Homeless? In the article below, Will Salyards description of Biblical Israel parallels the experience of many homeless. The words in parenthesis will help you see the similarity.

Avoid Becoming Misplaced

Ever think about God’s leading Israel (the homeless) from Egypt (Homelessness)? Like me, you may only consider that achievement in the positive sense: How great a thing. What a great victory and so on. But for a moment consider the negative aspects of the undertaking. These people had been enslaved for multiple generations. What limited self-government they enjoyed was an organic one based on age and its respect. Now some 2 million strong and essentially told when to get up, when to rest, and when to go home, they were hardly candidates for an experiment in self-government much less the ad-hoc, make it up as you go kind that a new nation must create. They were not only challenged in their governing but most likely challenged as well in the fundamentals of everyday life.

What Egypt (Homelessness) provided before their exodus and had come to be a matter of course would no longer be available. Who’s going to…? This is a simple and

direct question but depending on the level of self-sufficiency that Israel (or homelessness) was willing or able to maintain could become a major, even paralyzing, decision. I suggest that’s what happened. On more than one instance the result of their referendum was to return to Egypt (Homelessness) and make nice to Pharaoh in the hopes of getting to be slaves (put down) again.

Be a slave again?! Who would ever? After living through incredible miracles of deliverance, after seeing provisions of food and water appear from nowhere, and the impossible become possible, how could any people say that the slavery of their past was better than the hope of their future? Because for them it was. Literally. I think it is so because Israel had become a misplaced people. That is, they were in a place they had never before experienced. It didn’t matter that their heritage was as a nomadic people – that was 400 years ago – nor that God himself had ordained their journey, what was immediately apparent was the pain of the unfamiliar.

We become misplaced not merely because our surroundings change but because the cultural moorings shift. That was the problem. Although Israel’s (the new homeless) culture shift meant the preservation of a nation (their future), the first real hope for their future, it wasn’t held with the same fondness as the known and familiar. But then it seldom is. As much as we decry sameness, still we crave the security it brings, even when that security comes at the expense of a future.

It’s good for us that personal cultural shifts don’t come along very often. I think it possible that most folks will live their lives and never encounter one. But for those who do the stakes are high. The generation who left Egypt (newly homeless) couldn’t get beyond it. They didn’t found a nation but wandered in the wastelands of great nations. Eventually, they died and were buried neither in their beloved Egypt nor in the new land. No stone marked their passing; no enduring monument marks their achievement. They were misplaced and died in the misery of lost identity.

It seems to me that when our identity is challenged by a personal cultural shift we’re called upon to equip ourselves to meet the challenge. In real terms it means accepting a new reality while giving thanks for the good that was in the old. It means looking for life while speaking words of life and not death. It means seeing that our journey’s are always in the providence of God and that His hand directs the course of our life. I suspect it also means our acceptance and embrace of the belief that through us the course of our personal history, even that of our family, has the opportunity to be altered to the better. (This in most cases is the biggest challenge of the homeless person)

Dr. William J. Salyards Copyright 2010 All Rights Reserved

“We must recognize that some of the homeless we encounter are afraid of the changes that would occur if they would have to step out of that environment. Thus they remain perpetually homeless. They are content to stay in an environment that they are familiar with. That fear of the unknown, the familiarity with the homeless life is most comfortable.

Ron Sachs