When bullets fly, suddenly everything you said about safety being an illusion becomes a mirage you actually want to see. Just tell me what I need to take to hallucinate safety. Cloak my family in that illusion, please-and-thank-you, because I don’t much care for the sight of police cars and caution tape.
We spent our last year in Louisville “raising support” – meeting with potential financial and prayer partners. With the help of a Powerpoint presentation, we shared our family’s back story, the history of our Miami neighborhood, statistics about poverty and people unreached by the Good News.
As a picture of an AK-47 flashed on the screen, we narrated a shooting that took place last summer. “It’s not a particularly violent neighborhood” we would say, “there is some targeted violence…” (As if bullets contain some sort of global positioning system) “toward people involved in things they shouldn’t be.” (As if somehow being involved in those things makes a bullet intended for those people acceptable.)
Our aim was to calm the nerves of loved ones, to somehow communicate that even though we think safety is an illusion, we’ll be “safe” there, in that neighborhood with “targeted” violence…
I was warned about culture shock; no one told me it would be this hard to b r e a t h.
When bullets fly you wonder, Do I really have the power to push back darkness? The spiritually correct way of saying this is: you “question the call.”
But what I’m really questioning is, Do I even want to? Do I want to be light in the dark when streetlights are overpowered by strobing red and blue on every corner?
Do I want to?
Counting the cost is no one time event. It’s a minute-by-minute decision to choose the margins over the mainstream, the center of God’s will over the illusion of safety, dependence on Him over a steady paycheck.
When the water stops running and groceries are hard to come by and you can’t read the street signs and you find a lizard in your hair you ask…
Do I really even want to be in the center of His will if it’s on the margins of society?
It’s tempting to think plumbing problems and internetlessness and driving miles for groceries and lizards in the bathtub are things that make you a “real missionary.”
I’ve seen the looks on faces as people struggle to understand a missionary on domestic soil. But there is no such thing as a “real missionary” because Jesus didn’t distinguish between Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, or the ends of the Earth.
And frankly, anywhere bullets fly on streets where children play, that is the end.
My friend Liz says this Advent is basically saying, “I’m going to be more stubborn about hope than you. I’m going to be more stubborn about possibility than you. I just am.”
The thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices…
How in the world does a weary world rejoice? I’ve been asking myself all week, or all month, or all year. I’m not sure how long…
But I am, I am, stubbornly believing Christmas is the shadow of a reality that’s on it’s way.
I’m rejoicing not only because Jesus came once on a scandalous night in Bethlehem, but because HE IS COMING BACK.
And when he does His sword will stop bullets.
His justice and mercy will drown out darkness.
His tattoo will read “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.”
Oppressive leaders will get on their knees.
Those on the margins will be welcomed in.
The weary, the tatted, the bruised, the poor, the hopeless and those at the end – He’ll wipe their tears and put death to death.
That is t h r i l l i n g Good News. It is the hope-giving, rejoice-worthy reality I’m setting my weary soul down on.
And it’s big enough for the whole weary world.
(I came across the below video after having written the first draft of this post. It made me feel right at home and I think it might do the same for you. I dare you to get through it without tears.)