My 2-year-old daughter had gone just ahead of me at the park. I could see her, but I wasn’t close enough to tell what had made her stop. She was looking at something on the ground. Not just looking. Staring. Intently. Crouching. Pointing. It had her full attention.
Then, she yelled it. Just one word. But it had an immediate impact: “SNAKE!”
By nature, I am not normally fast, agile or quick to run toward fear. When it comes to bravery, on a scale of Cowardly Lion to Chuck Norris, I’m somewhere around a Barney Fife. But something took over and there I was, sprinting headlong in the direction of nature’s danger noodle. My daughter’s safety was at stake. And I had to act.
My spontaneous heroics were short lived. I reached the edge of the sidewalk where my daughter, still crouched and pointing, had spotted a 4-inch earthworm. To her credit, it was wiggling like a snake. And kids books with pictures of animals these days rarely draw them to scale. I was relieved, shaken and proud. In the face of perceived danger, I had sprung into action like a good dad. I passed the test. I had proven worthy of my title. Then I picked up the worm and chased my daughter with it for a while. Stress relief is important, even for the Dad of the Year.
My point is – it’s a natural response for human beings to avoid bad situations. But sometimes, for a variety of reasons, we can be compelled to run toward danger. Sometimes love drives us, like a father protecting his daughter. Sometimes it’s out of a sense of duty, like firefighters rushing into a burning building. Sometimes it’s because of a passion to care for others, like medical professionals treating infectious patience.
Whether love, duty, passion or perhaps a mixture of all three – sometimes we are compelled to confront risk and danger. It is a noble, heroic calling. And it requires more than just an adventurous spirit.
As Christians, we are not called to avoid the darkness of this world. We are called to identify it, confront it and to take God’s light right in the middle of it. In a world full of problems, the people of God should be a part of the solution! (Matthew 25:34-46).
We don’t hide when something bad has happened to our neighbor. We comfort them. We don’t run away when we see a friend struggling with temptation, we encourage them and keep them accountable. We don’t pretend to ignore the loved one who has become enslaved to some type of sin, we correct, guide and do all we can to help bring them back into the light.
But as we run toward the darkness to bring about God’s redemption in a broken world, we’re not foolish about it. It’s not an excuse to be reckless or ill-prepared. A medical professional still wears a mask before examining a patient with certain symptoms. A firefighter still puts on all the fireproof gear before running into the smoke. And both undergo countless hours of training in preparation for that moment of danger. If they were to try some type of heroics without gear or training, chances are they’d fail.
So, as a follower of Christ, what gear are you wearing? What training are you doing? Are you setting yourself up to succeed or fail? Before we run into darkness to comfort a grieving friend or plunge into the edges of temptation and brokenness to bring home that lost loved us, have we prepared ourselves? Train. Prepare. Practice. Suit up!
“So stand with the belt of truth around your waist, justice as your breastplate, and put shoes on your feet so that you are ready to spread the good news of peace. Above all, carry the shield of faith so that you can extinguish the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is God’s word. Ephesians 6:14-17
What are the tools of preparation for the Christian life? Truth. Justice. Peace. Faith. Salvation. The Holy Spirit. And the Word of God. Don’t go into battle without them. And whether you’re facing a snake or a worm, be prepared.
‘til the storm passes by,