I spent a few days with a younger version of myself. I recognized the idealistic values, the enthusiasm for life, and the drive to help others. I also caught glimpses of familiar doubts about God, struggles that continue unabated with time, and the thirst for something more than what he had. There were three chance meetings in the sauna and our conversations flowed as if uninterrupted through time.
It is clear that our thoughts are lingering at a bend in the stream. We know that they will continue but there is no sense of when and where. In many way I came away encouraged; it is good to know some of the seekers. I am confident that God always answers the cry of the thirsty. I do worry about the openness when one is stretching out to what they do not know and that in itself brings out the compassion often hiding in my heart.
In moments of fear I remember Wisdom’s observation. “Loafers say, “It’s dangerous out there! Tigers are prowling the streets!” and then pull the covers back over their heads.” (Proverbs 26.13)
Poison darts are flying from every corner! Being nimble isn’t enough. One needs to be able to duck, weave, and slide! Armor is highly recommended. Danger is there, it is here.
Yet retreating is not an answer. We thirst to live. We long to be part of community, even if it hurts us. We have a mission to nurture those around us, even if they are often the source of our pain.
There answer lies in acknowledging the threats and responding in strength. Far too often I believe strength lies in an attacking offense only to rediscover that throwing darts back only increases the barrage headed my way. Real strength and armor rests in ideas that come in the disguise of mercy, unconditional acceptance, and compassion. These methods of defense always touch the shooter even if the barrage continues.
It’s a war zone out there so be careful! Always take the Spirit and his quiver with you; mercy and compassion.