One more blog. Part 3 of Peaceful Protest and then I promise to move on. But there is one player from that night that keeps coming to my mind. And, as usual, I have a few things to say about how his presence that night helped me learn some truths about my own, everyday life.
The intent of this Protest was to pull it off peacefully. Because the police were on board with that part of the plan, they positioned themselves about a block away, alert and ready for the “just in case”. Just in case someone decided to do it their own way and stir up trouble. Just in case the emotional energy of the crowd got out of hand. And just in case the guy circling the crowd with an automatic rifle strapped across his chest took matters into his own hands. I noticed him walk past me at least twice. I couldn’t tell if his gun was real or not, but either way, it seemed to be the antithesis of what the protesters were trying to communicate. No one seemed very motivated to confront him on this. People who saw him would give him a head nod and a nervous smile, not wanting to incite a riot. There was not one police officer within a block in any direction who might let him know that this wasn’t acceptable. They were there to keep the public safe, yet were instructed to only intervene if things went south.
So, I am struggling to figure out how to explain what I want to say. Let’s try a comparison game.
The Peaceful Protesters are like you and me and our fight against our signatures sins or temptations. We really really want to kick some bad habits or root out some ugly behaviors or conquer some sinister thought patterns. We are determined to do it and do it right. We have prayed. We have made goals. We have asked others to keep us accountable. We are passionate and willing participants in making the necessary changes in our body, mind and soul.
The Guy With The Weapon is the Temptor. The Intimidator. Though we are determined to fight while still maintaining our serenity, his job is to hover, circle and taunt us. He attempts to provoke by subtly making his presence and his weapon known. I am sure you have experienced this. Sometimes it’s a force and sometimes it’s an actual person. There are many forms that temptations visits us. It might be as innocent as someone offering you ice cream when you just started a diet or sugar fast. But it can also be much more devious. It can be a summoning from something darker that invites you engage in the very behaviors and thought patterns that you truly hate about yourself. That you would be mortified if you saw them on the big screen. One’s that you have gone to great measures to arrest. One’s that could ultimately ruin you.
The Police are like God. They are there to keep us safe and protect us. However, there is one grand exception to this comparison: God, my God and your God, is not far off. He is not watching from a block away, waiting for the proverbial poop to hit the fan before he swoops in to rescue us. I have been looking up verses about how God is, in fact, near to those who invite him to be there. He is capable and willing to help us stand up to anything that threatens to harm or corrupt us. But here’s what I was reminded of when I turned to the next page of a book I was reading this morning called Jesus Today; He is not only near us. He is in us. In Him we live and move and have our being. Because of this, we have divine power to fight peacefully. He promises to always give us a way out of our temptations. An escape route. Instead of giving in, we have to give it up. He can handle it. He can deliver us.
Anyone else think it’s clear that God might have had more to teach me at a Protest than at a Comedy Show?