Randy and Katy Smelser

Americans living in Germany but citizens of heaven

Boudaries-Yes! But where?

We are caught in a dilemma. On one side we want to be gracious like God. He gives and gives and shows grace beyond measure. God is wasteful according to human standards. He gives heaping to those who do not deserve it. People reject Him and yet He gives. He has blessed Germany beyond what anyone 60 years ago would ever imagine. Yet the numbers of people who follow Him continues to shrink. Yet God gives and blesses.

On the other hand we live with limited resources of time, money and energy. We want to be like God and take on his character yet we are not limitless like him. So when we spend too much time or money on taxing people who do not really want more from our message are we showing God’s grace or are we taking away from those really need it. Are we showing love or enabling. With my low iron levels, my energy level is also low and anything tires me out quickly.

We have a poor man who comes around for food every now and then. He came from Kosovo during the war there 20 some years ago. He still has refugee status which means he can not move out of the county. His German is poor and so talking with him is very difficult. He is in poor health. His 4 kids are all German citizens now and have scattered with their families across Germany. He and his wife can seldom see the kids because of finances. He and his wife are “Muslim” but his mother was Orthodox Christian.

I am really struggling with my heart when dealing with him. The last two times he has not been satisfied with the amount of food the church was willing to buy. He comes rings the doorbell for an hour until we open up. One day off I was sick, trying to take a nap and did not want to deal with him but that doorbell he did ring and ring.

We also have people who have given their lives over to Christ and were baptized but do not want to come to church or a Bible study. But they want to have fellowship with us - privately. They want our full attention. They do not want to serve or grow in the Word. They do not want to be in a group where they have to show consideration for others and are not the center of attention. Are we showing them love by making private appointments with them or are we enabling their egoistic desires. They suck the energy out of us and we are wiped out and on edge after 2 hours with them. We have tried to set boundaries with them but they ignore them.

One recently was not happy with me because I had been up at 5:30 AM and worked all day and he had slept in and gotten up in the early afternoon and wanted to have a talk at 5 pm. I said no because I did not have the energy to listen to him. He will not speak loud enough that I can understand everything and yet he demands full attention for hours.

These people, we feel, are wanting to manipulate and control us to use us. We like helping people in need and showing love and attention. God has given us so much that we want to help people but are we really helping these people. People try to control and use God for selfish reasons and God continues to show grace and mercy. Should we ignore them because they take energy and time from other things or should I extend the goodness to them that God has extended to us? Can we set boundaries when I am sick and have a day off or is that being selfish and not living in the power of the Spirit?

Oh, that everything in life were cut and dry. Where does God want us to set boundaries, where does He want to stretch us, what is love and what is enabling. That is what we are chewing on right now.