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Friday, February 19, 2016

Wells and Walls

There are many, many things I could write about the Wesley Conference.  I expect that they will come in bits and pieces over the next weeks.  But, for tonight, let me begin with this little piece of information that I had heard before from Scott Daniels.  I did not mind hearing it twice.

In Australia (or maybe it was New Zealand, look how well I'm doing at remembering details), the shepherding process is different than you might imagine.  I'm talking about real sheep, not metaphorical ones.  These shepherds don't build fences or walls to keep the sheep in.  The idea is that if they dig deep enough wells, the sheep will not go far.  Although, perhaps not a perfect parallel, this also works with people.

If we dig a deep enough well, we do not have to build a wall to keep our people in.  They will stay with us, simply because of the life giving water that we have to offer.  I experienced this, tonight, 2000 miles away from home.  NNU has a deep well.  The professors here are life giving.  Sometimes I don't think they even know it.  They are humble people, and they speak truth.  I often need those kinds of people in my life.  I guess that's the real reason I was willing to travel this far.

Fear mongering is huge right now.  Maybe it always has been and I am simply more aware lately.  We start with subtle deceptions. 

Build a wall to keep your people in.  Keep them safe.  Unfortunately, if your people are really running from the well, they don't feel safe near it, which means a wall will just put them in more danger (or, at the very least, perceived danger). 

Interestingly, I am also drawn to people who have shallow wells or no wells at all.  To be completely honest, my well is deep enough for anyone who wants to drink from it.  We can share.  God provides like that.

Build a wall, because there isn't enough water, and it's your responsibility to make sure your people get what they need first.  Except, there is enough water.  To say that there is not is both to deceive your people and to deny a basic need to others.

This raises the question, if there is enough water to go around, why do we build fences... or walls... ever?  The only reason is to keep something (or someone) out.  We appeal to fear.  Fear is the only reason to build a wall.    

Build a wall, because there are dangerous things and people that will come in and hurt you if you don't.  This is true, but love isn't safe.  We preach this crucified and resurrected God.  Why would we ever assume that a life of discipleship is safe or should be safe? 

And so, in the face of brave or at least dedicated people, we up the ante.

Build a wall, because there are dangerous things or people who will come in and hurt your children (forget about everyone else's children) if you don't.  And...  BOOM.  Got me.

If you know me, you know that the very best way to control me is to threaten my children beyond what I can handle.  Oh, I'll fight you first... tooth... and... nail.  I'm not saying that's the right thing to do, only that I know exactly how much adrenaline kicks in when somebody takes a shot at one of my kids, and it's too much.  I even have really embarrassing stories.  But if your threat is big enough, I will cave.  When I have stopped to assess the situation, if it is more than I can control, if the outcome of my refusal is worse for my kids than my compliance, I will give you whatever you want.  True story.  I might even build a wall.

But that's not the kind of person I want to be.

I have no good solution for this, tonight.  Mostly I'm just sitting here arguing with myself about how to break down every wall and dig as many deep wells as I can.  And yet...  It's harder than it seems...

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