Gays, guns, church and politics! You name it and someone has an opinion locked, loaded, and ready to be voiced with a… BANG! Sadly, the conversation on these topics often has more in common with a Wild West shoot-out than it does with fair-minded, respectful dialogue. For this reason, most people have learned to leave sex, politics, and theology out of the family gatherings, work picnics, etc. But, as we’ve all experienced, there’s always at least one in the crowd who has an itchy trigger finger.
As for me, I’d have to confess, through the years I’ve been armed-to-the-teeth with quite a few powerful weapons (a.k.a. opinionated-convictions). But as I’ve grown older, wiser and more compassionate, I’ve willingly surrendered many of my discreetly concealed weapons. Why? Because, time and experience eventually taught me that I cannot not be trusted with them! In order to shed more light on my confession, let me begin by telling you about a dream I once had.
We’re Under Attack!
Years ago, I had a very vivid dream, the kind you don’t forget as soon as you awake. You know the type, don’t you? It was in 3D with vivid effects and surround sound! In my dream, I was a keeper of an ancient walled city. While the King of the city was away on business, I served in his place as the Royal Magistrate. My duties involved overseeing the daily order and well-being of his flourishing city.
All was well until one day an unrecognizable armed force appeared on the distant horizon. Immediately, the only thought I had was: “Defend the King’s city at all cost!” Emboldened with responsible conviction, I rushed to strengthen the walls and gates, making sure every war machine was fully stocked with ammunition!
By sunset the distant threat had fallen fiercely upon us. The battle raged on all night long. Our unidentifiable foe was too powerful for us to oppose. Sadly, many casualties were sustained and massive destruction occurred to my city. By daybreak, the extensive damage was apparent and the city gates were at the point of failing. I was also seriously wounded, and only one war machine remained functional—a large trough filled with darts resting under intense tension aimed directly at the front gates. While bleeding out from a chest wound, I prepared to offer a final heroic act of service for my King and city. I laid down beside the remaining war machine, and placed my trembling finger on the trigger.
The Enemy Is Not Who You Think He Is
As the gates started to bulge inward from the outside bombardment, my resolve to launch the hundreds of missile-like darts paused. I had been so full of courage and determination during the entire battle; why on earth would I pause now? For some reason or another, something was telling me not to trip the trigger. At that very moment the gates burst open under the pressure. And to my shock and bewilderment, the unidentifiable threat I had been defending my city from was none other than her King! Immediately, I was completely undone, filled with humiliation, and terribly thankful I had taken my finger off of the trigger.
With great pomp and circumstance my King road up to me on his majestic white horse. To my surprise his sword remained sheathed as he extended his right hand. Upon his touch my life-threatening wound was instantly healed, and the devastated city was engulfed in creeping flowering vines which eventually filled in every hole and crater with unimaginable beauty! In the days that followed, it didn’t take long until “The City That Blooms All Year Long” became a legendary attraction for pilgrims near and far.
As for my fate, I was celebrated as a hero for not shooting the King! Crazy, eh? And, in the King’s absence (he had promptly left right away on business again) I continued to serve at his good pleasure as the city’s Royal Magistrate. Simply silly! But that’s how things go in dreams… and in Disney movies too.
I Won’t Trust Myself With…
For years now this dream has stayed with me and has faithfully supplied me with many timely insights. When I first was awoken by it twenty years ago, the immediate lessons were apparent to me. Here they are contained in two brief points:
(1) Oftentimes, we mistakenly believe we are “fighting the good fight” when defending ourselves and others from all perceived threats and offenses. Sadly though, our heroic deeds often end up leading to extensive damage and needless suffering for everyone involved, including ourselves.
(2) In the end, the real battle actually being fought is the one that rages fiercely inside the heart. And for me, the two things that mainly lead to fierce hurt within the center of my chest are: Love for the things that do not offend me, and fear of the things that do offend me.
From an early age we develop certain preferences, ideas, opinions, and convictions. Some are good, some are not so good, while many are naive and need to mature. As we grow older, those closest to us help us grow (hopefully) by challenging us with a sense of responsibility. And this burden can either lead to harmful results or beautiful outcomes. For me, the patient and gracious influences in my life have helped me understand that I am capable of both. Therefore, my greatest held opinion and conviction has come to be: I won’t trust myself with fear, offenses, or a defensive ego. For in the end, only love and openness will save me and all those I care for.
Live The Dream With Me!
Before entering this blessed city, lay down your arms. You won’t need them here. The gates are open day and night to all arriving from near and far. Enter humbly and find rest from your weary travels. Behold the place that once was leveled by fear and ego, but now has been graced with beautify beyond description! My gracious King and I say, “Come!“