Saturday, April 9, 2011

Lent Day 28: Fearless

Was he spoiling for trouble? Looking for a fight? Or just passing through?

"When Jesus arrived on the other side of the lake, in the region of the Gadarenes, two men who were possessed by demons met him. They lived in a cemetery and were so violent that no one could go through that area." (Matthew 8:28 NLT)

Most of us would avoid going through an area where there was trouble. We have two opposite acquaintances, who approach danger in completely opposite ways.

The first makes a wide detour at the faintest whiff of conflict. We once hugged the path on the far walls of a parking garage of the symphony hall, returning to the car after a concert.

A few college students stood chatting near the normal walkway. "You never know if they're friendly," said my friend, leading me the long way around.

The second moved his family to the inner city to begin a long-term (probably lifelong) commitment to that community and contribute to its rehabilitation as an insider. His kids go to the same schools as their neighbors. The family is part of the dangerous, conflicted world around them. Seeing their staying power, everyone looks out for them, as they look out for others.

I'm somewhere between. Staying with some women at a friend's property, I hollered from the roof deck at a gun-toting hunter who crossed over onto the acreage with his dogs, "Hey, get off my land!" I knew our friend wouldn't want anyone shooting a gun in his yard.

My girlfriend was shocked and turned to me with eyes wide: "You don't know if that man will turn around and shoot you!"

What? That never crossed my mind. He was trespassing, and a dog person. He was shooting grouse, not a man-hunter. Besides, Tom would want him gone. We were there. Tom was not. So, a shout seemed in order and did the trick, even if it nearly caused a heart-attack inside our house.

Jesus had courage born of security in his heavenly Father. There was no doubt in his conversations and no fear in his approach to those others found extreme or scary. Knowing his God was capable of transforming the hardest heart and healing the deepest wounds, he walked boldly and with confidence through the world.

There's a place for wisdom and caution, but it may not always be best to avoid challenges. Learning to listen to the Spirit and God's wisdom can give us holy audacity and wise bravery to join God at work.

The wise man said, "My child, listen to me and do as I say, and you will have a long, good life. I will teach you wisdom's ways and lead you in straight paths. When you walk, you won't be held back; when you run, you won't stumble. Take hold of my instructions; don't let them go. Guard them, for they are the key to life." (Proverbs 4:10-13)

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