last saturday night i was awoken at 3:30 in the morning by a very loud noise. actually it was several loud noises. in fact these loud noises were gunshots. and there were about 20 of them in maybe 10 seconds. all this was followed by some screeching tires and then a building up of sirens, just like a symphony will add parts as the music goes along until it reaches its grand climax. after a few minutes the sirens faded out.
we've heard gunshots before down at our church. not infrequently actually. but none of them have ever been this close. they had to have come from less than a block away. i'm a pretty heavy sleeper and not much wakes me up, but this shot my eyes open rather quickly.
after the sirens i laid in my bed for a few minutes, my eyes still wide. i thought about how my car was parked on the edge of the lot and how it could have taken a shot. i thought about how a bullet could come through the window and hit the wall above me, though with the exterior stone and roof section off my room that is basically impossible. but truly it was the first time that i have felt a good amount of fear at the church. it took me awhile to fall back asleep.
admittedly most of my thoughts were about myself and others in the community. in fact just as i'm typing now it's the first time i've given any real thought to our neighbors or the people in the gun fight themselves. nothing was in the news so it seems as if no one was hurt. but my inability to consider others just shows how deep my own selfishness goes.
why do i tell this story? to share something interesting? to show everyone how dangerous our neighborhood is and how we are so badass for living there? i don't want people to worry. and actually i don't think that this story really shows things are any more dangerous than we already knew they were. and while it's something of a crazy story, i think it doesn't really show anything conclusive--except that maybe this is what you'd expect.
tuesday morning i was walking to my car and i pressed the button on my keypad to unlock the car, upon which instead my car locked. this simply means that i had somehow failed to lock my car the night before. i shook my head at myself and opened the door. everything was still there; nothing was missing. the car was still there, obviously. and unfortunately i have to say that this isn't the first time that i've done this since moving into the church.
and i guess i tell that story because maybe it isn't what you'd expect. maybe we should though--i mean, it's not as if people are lurking around our cars every night testing them to see if the doors are locked. and yet it seems like a shocking thing--or at least that's what some people have told me when i casually mentioned it to them.
i don't entirely know why but these two stories keep rolling around in my head. perhaps because of their seeming contradictions, for the way they somehow show very different things. perhaps the contradiction is obvious enough in itself and i don't need to explain it to you. in fact i really could have just put these two stories side by side without all the commentary, but for some reason my voice is coming out. i guess i must have something to say. let's see if i can find it.
yesterday in class we were talking about persecution. we talked about the church worldwide and how it is growing, though it is shrinking in america. and we talked about the persecution the church is facing worldwide and how in reality that tends to just make the faith grow even more. that is, when people live out of their faith despite persecution--because then people can actually see that it is something very real and very significant.
but in our society we don't really have the stomach for very much. we like our comfort and we get very upset when it is upset. we don't really know what it looks like to truly sacrifice. we like our security. we like our doors locked to keep out all the critters. we don't like bullets flying over our heads.
but when i hear and read stories of people suffering for the faith, when i read the scriptures talking about persecution, when i consider all that people have given and lost--then i see a few gunshots for what they really are. then i see my fears for the weakness they are. then i see that for all i look to and wish they were doing more, there are many who should say the same of us. i see faith. and i want it more myself.
Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. Romans 8:17
we like to quote verse 39, but not what comes before it.
"So do not be afraid of them. There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs. Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.
"Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven.
"Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn
" 'a man against his father,
a daughter against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law -
a man's enemies will be the members of his own household.'
"Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
who can accept this teaching? who then can enter the kingdom of God? but where else will we go? you alone have the words of eternal life. may you help us listen.
oh and just in case some aspiring car thiefs happen to read this blog, my car is the black hyundai.