Shrewd & Innocent
Pushing my body from the bed, I shook off the rather strange and cryptic dreams to walk slowly into the living room of my small apartment. Knowing the work day alarm hadn't run, I hesitated before engaging my smart phone's ambient light to reveal the time.
"Yes, Lord," I said in a voice aloud, barely above the whisper stage, "I'm with you."
As I prepped a quick breakfast, I pulled one of the prayers from my arsenal and prayed for life. These prayers - authored and offered through the Wild at Heart site and app - aren't the short cut or easy type of prayers. They engage my heart and plug me into the Source every time.
Afterwards, I turned on the TV to check the news. Death, violence, politics, arrogance, and pride. Nothing new in this news. Click of a button and the large screen instantly fades to black. My heart, I notice, is restless still, wanting more, knowing that it's 30 degrees colder outside in the Louisville morning than it was yesterday. Going to work these days feels like war, like a boot camp of cubicles and egos.
"What now, Father?" I ask, a child's voice in my mind speaking not out of boredom but more so from expectation. His answer was, as usual, mysteriously inviting and sure.
I'm not a Bible scholar...but I love the Word and how it draws me in, deeper to Him, and how the Spirit speaks to me in the language of my head, heart, and soul as I read the words that are examples of how to live and walk with God and not exceptions, as if He's gone for good and no longer talking since the canon was closed.
As I opened the book and found my place, I noticed the subheading midway in the 1oth chapter:
A Hard Road Before Them.
The six verses I read after that were like a cold shower followed by a walk in the winter's air outside.
"Behold I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves. But beware of men, for they will hand you over to the courts and scourge you in the synagogues; and you will even be brought before governors and kings of My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles. But when they hand you over, do not worry about how or what you are to say; for it will be given to you in that hour what you are to say. For it is not you who speak, but it is the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.
"Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. You will be hated by all because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved." (Matthew 10: 16-22 NASB)
I closed the Scriptures, satisfied beyond the simple meal and vestiges of pilfered sleep, almost as if He were saying:
'Here are your marching orders for the day, son. And you are good to go.'
Good to go, indeed...but be shrewd and innocent.
Linguistically, that entails being "marked by clever discerning awareness and hardheaded acumen" and "free from guilt or sin especially through lack of knowledge of evil." (Merriam-Webster online) For some reason, I get with the hardheadedness of being shrewd - and for another reason entirely, I determine that pretending to be a wolf just so that I'm not found out to be a sheep isn't going to cut it in this world at war I'll be walking out into.
Innocent as doves...
At my morning bus stop, I considered this innocent question: Who would fuck with a dove? I mean, come on: all the cooing, song singing, and symbols of love entwined with flight; we're not necessarily speaking of the rumble between the Jets and Sharks here. As for serpents? Yes, yes...I know the experience of laying in silence, awaiting the strike that would render my prey helpless.
Why would God "send us out" into the wolf pack marked as sheep? Not fair odds and not exactly the most advantageous situation to be in. But the Enemy of God is constantly sighting us in his cross hairs. John Eldredge, in the expanded edition of his book Waking the Dead, has it right:
"This is the heart of our Enemy. He is determined to hinder and harm and ruin God's image bearers. To steal and kill and destroy. So let me say this again: the story of your life is the story of the long and brutal assault on your heart by the one who knows what you could be and fears it. I hope you are beginning to see that more clearly now. Otherwise, much of the Bible will not make sense to you. Much of your life will not make sense to you." (Thomas Nelson, 2016: p. 156)
Turning to look, I see the bus coming down the road. I'm ready. Good to go. Shrewd and innocent and having no intentions of fighting bravely and dying quickly today.
JOHN FONTAINE, Writer @ Large