[vc_row fullwidth="false" attached="false" padding="0" visibility="" animation=""][vc_column border_color="" visibility="" width="1/1"][vc_column_text disable_pattern="true" align="left" margin_bottom="0"]"Stupid Bing Bong." The phrase spilled through tears from my little man the other night. Family movie night. Disney Pixar's latest (and truly greatest) Inside Out had us all laughing and in tears. The moment came when the imaginary friend, Bing Bong, gave one last push to save the little girl, giving his own (albeit imaginary) life in the process. We were all thinking it, but Caleb's words gave perfect definition to this beautiful collision of love and sacrifice.
I loved his little boy heart in that moment, but I was also worried about my own.
In this day of instant news and social media, we have no less opinions than we had 20 years ago, but the availability of those opinions has compounded beyond measure. Each one is like a match thrown into a pile of matches, which, if timed correctly can set the whole world on fire. Those fires spread quickly, consuming anyone and everyone in their path with whatever fuel happens to be carrying the flame. Hatred, fear, racism, ignorance, and anger are the easy ones to name. There are many more. What bothers me more is that I have thrown those matches, provided that fuel, and reacted with brittleness and dryness of heart to a world that I should care about.
It wasn't always that way. I used to be a little boy, innocent and tender at heart.
I remember being at that age where I was moving from playing war to wanting to know what it was really like. My friend Jay and I had somehow convinced our parents to let us watch Rambo, First Blood, Part 2. Who knows how we pulled that one off? But I had this stirring in my heart that was both thrilling and a bit disturbing. Jay and I were determined to meet the beast inside and see if we might tame it. We planned a movie night, followed by a sleepover in his backyard. We both had new knives that looked just like Rambo's knife. Obscenely huge blade, serrated on one side and a wickedly sharp edge on the other, capped with a compass that held essential survival tools inside the handle: fishing line, hooks, matches. We were all set to join the cause, whatever it was.
Jay's parent's took us to the movie. (Actually, I'm not sure I secured permission from my parent's for the movie, but I did have permission to sleep over at Jay's house. Mom, I guess this is me telling you now.) It was everything we hoped it would be. Rambo was as tough as ever, his acting was as horrible as ever (Adrian!) but Rocky always has a way of getting the win. Bad guys were caught or killed and Rambo's "needing a shower", chiseled form stood strong in the end.
We left the theater with the beast roaring on the inside. A slight drizzle of rain began to make the car windows glisten. Jay's Dad saw the rain and suggested it might not be the best thing to sleep outside tonight. We looked at each other with little boy determination that said: "If Rambo can do it, we can do it."
Then it happened.
A sharp turn of the wheel sent the car sliding and a massive thud impacted the front of the car. We stepped out into the cold night, the rain falling hard now. The headlights beamed through the congested air onto a dog that lay motionless in front of the car.
In an instant, my need to know what real war was like vanished. I no longer had the desire to be the tough guy, or even find out if I was the tough guy. All I could think about was the dog, which struggled every time it tried to take a breath. By this point, the owners of the dog had come outside and knelt beside the fading life. They decided to move the dog, but were afraid that it might bite them. They gently tied a bandana sealing the mouth closed. It's weird the things you remember.
Jay's parents decided we had seen enough and took us to his house. We tried to forget the dog. We lasted a few hours in the cold rain as it pelted the tent. Our new knives, sheathed in cheap faux leather, could do nothing for us. Our hearts were already eaten up. Hollywood had been swallowed up by reality and our little boy innocence fought our desire to be calloused.
We went inside to the warmth of Jay's bedroom. What I really wanted at that moment rang loud in my heart:
To go home… in more ways than one.
Over the years I have fought this beast. A battle between strong justice and loving compassion rages in me and a thousand others as we try to make sense of new enemies and unimaginable terror. Instinct says to protect and fight, but my heart feels the pull to compassion. I also wonder when this beast will go after my little boy. Don't misunderstand me, I want him to be that warrior, strong and ready to fight and protect whatever needs protecting. He has shown that side with his love for knives, Playmobil wars, and epic airsoft battles in the back yard. But I also want his heart to stay tender, drawing him home to the heart of Jesus.
When I think about ISIS and Refugees, I don't have answers. I can't say exactly what should be done, but I know which way my heart leans. I'm drawn to someone who is perfect love, who can cast out fear with a single word. I will trust in a God who is not wringing his hands, wondering what to do. He has already done it, which leaves us with a choice.
I asked my children the other night (after the latest round of governors closing their doors) - what we should do about people who are fleeing from their homes, hungry and afraid. They didn't hesitate.
"We should help them."
I think they might be on to something. Even they recognize sacrificial love when they see it.
I still believe that sacrificial love is the only answer. Isn't that what we are all banking on anyway? That the ultimate act of sacrifice and love, poured out for the darkest of sins and enemies has ultimately won the day?
May we be granted the grace to remember that He's a Savior who loves the outcasts and refugees, and invites the terrorists (Simon the Zealot, Saul of Tarsus) to follow Him.
I pray for the courage to follow Him with all my heart.[/vc_column_text][mk_icon_box2 icon_type="icon" icon_size="64" icon="mk-li-paper-plane" icon_color="#02b3ff" title="Follow Chad's Blog and never miss a post." title_size="24" title_weight="inherit" title_top_padding="10" title_bottom_padding="10" align="center"]