Over the next hill.
Tsé Bitʼaʼí, "winged rock"
As I write this, it is Memorial Day is the US, a day to honour their fallen. In Canada, we honour our fallen on November 11th, on Remembrance Day.
I cannot fathom the courage it took to go into combat. I just can't. Even so, I am profoundly grateful to have been born and raised in a truly free country, especially as a female Christian.
Those last two words mark me as a dispensable target in many parts of our world. A non-person who is unworthy of the air I breathe. You may want to argue that point, but hop on a plane and go to a country that insists its women cover themselves completely, and/or that publicly executes anyone who decides to follow Jesus.
Anyone who doesn't think there is widespread spiritual warfare going on needs only to look at the headlines. Manchester. Minya. Even Mississippi.
And to look back across the years and cultures, we can see an almost constant state of war, and rumours of war.
So, what can be done? Well, get rid of the denial, for one thing. "All you need is love" is FINE if you live somewhere calm and peaceful. For the rest of the world? All you need is back-up, cover fire, and a way out.
I was chatting with two friends -one of whom is my pastor- yesterday about why I did not feel led, or willing, to take a more deeply involved role at my church (serving on the board) which would ask a lot more of my time and my energy.
I love my church and my church family, but I have sensed a mountain coming that I cannot see, but the feel of it gives me goosebumps.
It's not a dark shadow, per se, but a presence that I cannot deny.
As a writer, as someone who uses story to bring the message of Christ's redemption, there is not a giant welcome mat out there in the big, wide world.
I had one notable and very well educated person refuse to work with me because I was a Christian. I was offended, but not surprised. That was her prerogative, but I will eventually cross paths with her, and trust me, the only acceptable response to her will be grace.
I had a meeting with another person, one who shares my faith, but who held a very important place in his people's world, made me earn the right to be heard. He said to me, as he fixed his very intense glare my way, "Why fiction?"
Oooooh, this was not a light chat. This was a deeply intense and extremely critical meeting in which my years of hard work hung in the wind on a paper hinge.
I was dripping sweat down my spine and wanted to run away and never come back. But I stole a glance at my friend Joy Stoner (a rock that day, and many other days!), and took a deep breath. "Because, Jesus was a storyteller. People listen to well-told stories before they'll listen to hard facts pounded at them."
The world of which I write has been left scarred and hurt by those claiming God's direction of their actions. There are, to this day, many walking wounded who do not want one more sugary platitude or misguided good intention tossed their way from anyone associated with Christianity.
What those people deserve is someone who will stand up and willingly walk into the firing line and answer the painful questions lobbed across time and circumstance.
Do I want to be this person?
Well...I didn't ask for it.
Didn't see it coming.
Didn't have the credentials for it.
Don't have the spine for it.
Didn't know what I didn't know about it.
Don't even like to think about confrontation.
And didn't think it was remotely possible to say 'no' when God calls.
But when it's obvious that God is preparing a person to stand up and say "What was done in God's name was not done with His blessing", then that person better clear her decks, roll up her sleeves, and get down on her knees.
Is that somewhat arrogant, to claim that God is calling me to speak for Him, to clear a few things up?
Uhh, no. It's audacious, but not arrogant.
God calls all kinds of people, and He equips those He calls. Hence the years and years of focused study and learning, and listening. Lots and lots of listening.
It is a mountain of responsibility, and even though I have no idea when it is coming?
I know it IS coming.