Bear with me as I share a metaphor that came to me this morning while driving to pick up everyone for church. Part of the trip takes me past the cows at Cuello's farm. They have a nice fenced in 30 acre piece of land for the cows to roam and feed on grass. There are several trees that offer shade. As I drive by it seems like that have a camaraderie, or a community gathering. Some are nudging each other, some are just comfortably close.
Then I looked across the street and there was one cow that had gotten out. Somehow it had managed to find a hole in the fence, crossed the highway where cars go about 65 mph, climbed down...and then up a ditch that is about 4 feet high and was munching on grass in this wild piece of savannah where there are certainly snakes, maybe poisonous ones, scorpions, and holes in the ground to trip on.
|This is just a picture of what the field across the road looks like. When I drove by in the morning and saw the cow, I did not have my camera. So I drove back later to get a pic and the cow wasn't there. At least you get an idea of what the savannah grasses are like.|
Some people have recently left our church. They are like that cow that did not like fences. Our deaf friends did not like rules...rules like thou shalt not commit adultery, thou shalt not steal, though shalt not bear false witness. They say that they can do what they want. Last week one of these boys arrived at church on his bike, tossed the bike on the ground, walked into the church, went straight to Alva, and slapped her in the face saying she had better stop gossiping about him...then he turned and said "I quit church" as he walked out the door.
Our church doesn't have a lot of rules. We don't have a dress code. I try to keep the rules on a short list: The 10 commandments and loving your neighbor.
Like the cow who was sure the grass outside of the fence was better, this young man has been testing the rules for a while and choosing to break through the fence to the other side of the road. But the other side of the road is so dangerous. That escaped cow will not survive long in the bush. There's no water there. There are dangerous things to get tangled in.
I thank God for making a short list of rules that protect us from harm and lead us to a way of peace and safety. I pray that God will draw this young man back into the fold and help him to choose to stay inside the fence.
UPDATE May 3: I talked with this man several times since the church incident and told him that I still love him even when he does bad things. I will always love him and God loves him even more. I told him that he cannot come to church if he is going to threaten anyone or hit anyone. I asked him what happened and why he did it. He gave reasons that showed his anger and sense of righteousness. I asked him if I could pray with him. To my surprise he said, "Yes". So we prayed. I invited him to come to "Boyz Bible Study on Saturday". He said he would come.
UPDATE MAY 4: The young man came to Bible study. He shared good answers and tried to study God's word. On his own... in the midst of our discussion of Jesus telling Peter and Andrew to follow him, and what it means to "follow Jesus" the young man said he should not have said he would kill Alva and does not want the people in the church to be afraid of him. I told him he needs to stand in the front of the church and tell people he made a mistake and will not threaten them. He needs to ask for their forgiveness. He thought about it. We continued our study for a few more minutes and he interjected. "I will stand up in front of the church tomorrow and ask for forgiveness". Awesome! Praise God!
UPDATE May 5: He did not come to church. Please pray for this young man that he will humble himself to receive forgiveness.