Last night, I went weak in the knees for the first time in a very long time… let me back track, so yesterday, Sarah and I went to a small award ceremony put on by a local independent school district, for organizations that volunteer or adopt schools – I’m not sure how I get talked into going to these to represent ANC, especially considering I’m the only introverted pastor on staff. Either way, it was good, as out of all the organizations, there was only ONE church invested in this school district…so it was good we went. Anyway, as we were driving through gates of the ‘ranch’ where the dinner was being held (10 minute drive from my house – had no idea it existed), we began to see a lot of different animals…and I’m not talking horses, cows, the normal ranch animals you see here in Texas, but camels, zebras, addaxs, gazelles, beisa oryxs, giraffes, and many others… all of them were running in the open. We were a bit taken back. After all the driving we finally came to the event center on the ranch and as we are parking, I looked to my left and noticed a ‘caged-in’ area, and the road leading up to it, was blocked off by cones. So, as we are parking, I’m cranking my neck back to see what it was, and there it was, a large, powerful, white rhino. If you know me at all, you know I love the white rhino, in fact, I have an armored one tattooed on my arm (story for another time). This award cerimony now took the position of back burner in my mind. In fact, during the ceremony the only thing I could think of, was passing those orange cones to get close to the rhino.
I couldn’t take it any longer, after I received the award for ANC, I snuck out the back to scope out Mr. Powerful. I approached the rhino hoping I had Harry Potter like skills, and could just connect with the rhino, but on the first attempt, the connection was not made, in fact, he walked quickly to the other side of his barn, as to be hidden from me. So, I was sure the connection was there, he just didn’t know it yet, so, I walked to the other side, and he approached the fence in an aggressive fast walk, it made me walk backwards slowly, and say to Sarah, “let’s leave.” So, as we were walking away, he followed us, and followed us quickly – I was wrong, he wasn’t being aggressive, rather the connection had been made, so I took his invitation and approached him quickly and as I got closer, I quickly learned I had mistaken his following of us – he was not inviting me closer, rather making sure we were leaving – he snorted, raised up on his back legs with power and aggression and with that same power waived his horn in the air…there, that’s when my knees went weak … though he was behind a gate, I knew that he possessed the power in him to break through it and turn me into a one-dimensional character with more holes than swiss cheese…so a connection was made, but not the one I was hoping for.
So, after the slight adrenaline rush went down and my knees became solid again, I began to think, “how in the world did this 2-3 tone embodiment of power feel threatened by this little 190 pound human? How could this rhino, that had the power to throw a massive safari truck 20 feet into the air be held captive by this gate? How did this rhino become so deceived that he felt like he needed to defend the very thing that held him captive (he had allowed the very cage that imprisoned him and held him back to become the home he now defended from weaklings like me?) – better yet, did this current reality of the rhino represent the reality of many people?”
While, I would like you to think that this evolution of thought was propagated simply by the rhino, a friend of mine had already seeded this thought in his most recent blog, What of your Dream.
I like Lewis’ spin on this idea:
“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea…”
What happens to us…? When we’re young, we have a dream, ambition, we are ready to conquer the world, to do the impossible and not be like our parents who lost theirs, raised us, and settled for an average american like based on “have-to’s” or “should-do’s” all to keep up with the status-quo. We get married, the kids come along, the responsibilities of marriage, bills, soccer games, and the 9-5’er become so necessary, that we are now afraid to go afterthat dream, after all it would be, “irresponsible”, and we may risk the well-being (average/status-quo life) of our kids and wife – our dreams are now separated from us by a fence of fear. Then we live inside that fence for long enough, it’s no longer fear holding us back, but now we don’t even remember the dream, and the very fence that once held us back is now the domain we defend from anything that tries to interrupt our status quo – and those still with a dream, are, well, silly. Why is this? We become like the all powerful rhino who has been fenced in by the equivalent of a straw, for so long it becomes the home we defend. We are humans made in the image of God to display his glory to all the earth, or as C.S. Lewis says in the Weight of Glory, “immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.”
I wonder how many of us have passed the point of fear, and it’s not the fear of breaking out of the fence to follow the voice calling us, rather, we’ve lived so long in the fence, we can no longer hear the echo of the dream, our cage is now the domain we defend.
Maybe we need to step back, and ask ourselves, “are our lives really concerned with the things that matter in this world…are we more concerned with ‘fitting-in’ because a life that may confront the status-quo lives of those around us would be too uncomfortable; are we more concerned with big suburban problems like yard-of-the-month; making sure our kids are the best athletes at their school; or gossip of who shouldn’t be in the neighborhood, when we live in a world with orphans, slaves, and the impoverished, because yards and surface relationships are easier to deal with than injustices in our world…or to use the Rhino analogy, are we these powerful creatures made for so much more scared of the 190 pound man, when we have a great expanse waiting for us to charge into, if we would only listen to the echo…”
Let me finish this off with my third C.S. Lewis Quote:
“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.”