Dangerous Calling

Way back over Labor Day weekend, we took a drive out to Teller County to walk some land. I didn’t realize that we’d be brushing up against anything so dangerous as a llama ranch until we came across this sign.

While it seems completely ridiculous to me, I imagine it wasn’t funny for the victim of the first llama injury or for the rancher who got sued, thus prompting such conspicuous labling.

That same weekend, a friend wrote about his encounters with far more obvious dangers, along with the vocation that had him face-to-face with stuff that doesn’t carry the polite, legally-correct signage of the llama ranch. There are no tidy answers for his questions.
The world is fraught with pain and uncertainty, whether it’s inflicted by spitting llamas or drug-crazed murderers. A victim is a victim is a victim. Danger abounds. When Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble,” he wasn’t kidding

Nobody wants this trouble; no one wants the pain. We cover our butts with legal-ese, lock our doors, and participate in Bible studies all in an effort to keep the ouchies at bay, as if there’s really anything we can do about it. Jesus spoke that line about trouble just a few hours before he was arrested, tortured, crucified. But his trouble started long before Passion week. And he was perfect. If he didn’t escape, why do we think we will or even should?

But if we can’t escape, then what? Do we fight back? Become paralyzed? Put up signs?

I don’t know exactly, but a recent encounter with Ezekiel 8 is making me wonder if our first response should be to simply listen, see, recognize. It makes me wonder if we (at least some of us) might not actually be called to be witnesses.

Ezekiel 8, in short, goes like this:

As I was sitting in my house with the elders of Judah sitting before me, the hand of the Lord GOD fell on me there. … He stretched out the form of a hand and caught me by a lock of my head; and the Spirit lifted me up between earth and heaven … Then He said to me, “Son of man, raise your eyes now toward the north…do you see what they are doing, the great abominations…But yet you will see still greater abominations.”

…And He said to me, “Go in and see the wicked abominations that they are committing here.” So I entered and looked, …Then He said to me, “Son of man, do you see? … For they say, ‘The LORD does not see us; the LORD has forsaken the land.'” And He said to me, “Yet you will see still greater abominations which they are committing.”

Of course, God goes on to punish these evil-doers. And Ezekial goes on to see even more horrendous abominations. But mostly I’m struck by the force with which the Lord “calls” this prophet to witness the darkness — to see what is detestable — to feel what breaks God’s heart in such visceral and unrelenting ways.
In a Christian sub-culture that mostly buries it’s head in the sand in order to stay untainted, this is a striking picture.

I’m no theologian. I can’t claim any authority to really interpret this chapter, but it doesn’t seem too far of a stretch to say that God may call and equip some of His followers to see, to bear witness, to stand in the presence of hard violence and suffering — and to testify to its darkness, because the darkness is not the end.

“I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.” ~ Isaiah 42:16

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