He was wearing a snow suit on an 84 degree summer day, that was the first sign he wasn’t mentally sound. The second, was the eerily slow pace in which he walked.
Come on, pee faster… my inner dialogue begged of my 65 lb boxer. Watching, out of the corner of my eye as the strange man crossed closer to my side of the street. Taking note also, of how nearly every inch of his body was covered in layers upon layers of clothing.
I hurried into the safety of my apartment building, stopping briefly at the entrance to say my usual hello’s with Carlos the doorman. Asking, as I always do, if anything noteworthy happened for the day ( P.s. NYC doorman have the best stories, and Carlos’ exuberance to tell them and to exaggerate every detail and make subtle jabs at Trump, make them all the more fun to listen to.)
But that’s when I heard it… a booming voice behind me. I knew instantly it was the man I had been watching. He was yelling in my direction.
I never did make out the words he was barking, but it was clear he was angry. More than that, he was unstable.
Looking back, there was so much to be afraid of in that moment, so many reasons to cower down and recoil in fear. Yet interestingly, at the moment, the maniac wasn’t the one I was taking note of the most… it was Carlos the doorman.
In the presence of danger, he was so notably fearless… So fiercely protective.
As the man continued hollering profusely at me, I watched as the doorman arched his back to stand tall; positioning himself directly in front of me, as if to block each of the man’s verbal assaults from reaching me. Seemingly absorbing every venomous, untrue, word, he protected me…effortlessly.
Carlos never once said a word (he didn’t have to.) Within moments, the man in the snow jacket backed down and quieted. Slinking back, so much, that he even crossed the street so as not to have to pass Carlos on the sidewalk.
And the streets became quiet again.
Carlos, not missing a beat, snapped right back to the conversation we had been having, about ‘the mean little ‘effer in apartment 6F’ (an English bulldog.)
And as we carried on laughing, I thought about the two things I learned that day:
- How bad@$$ Carlos the doorman is (Truly, I’ve never looked at him the same way.)
- How unafraid I was because of it.
I suppose that’s the power of knowing the capabilities of the one you are with.
And I believe the same is true of God.
When we know the strength of who’s standing beside us, and how fiercely protective God is of us, it changes our posture towards things that used to scare us — It changes how we respond to criticism, hurled insults, even, maniacs on the streets of NYC.
Though I doubt many of you have had a maniac in a snow suit yell at you this week… (I live a strange life, I know.) Maybe instead, what had you cowering this week was people cutting you down and sabotaging what you feel called to do. (Who knows? Maybe its been you who has been cutting yourself down, and with it, sabotaging what you are called to do!)
Maybe even, some of you were faced with a real reason to recoil in fear, like so many New Yorker’s were this week; when while shuffling our kids off to school and kissing our spouses as we went to work, a terror attack happened on the subway — The second, in the last 6 weeks!
Maybe in the presence of these things you have been quick to hide under the covers instead of stepping out in confidence of your calling — but can I offer you a better solution? It’s what God is instilling deep within me these days.
Psalm 46:1-3 says this, “God is a safe place to hide, ready to help when we need Him. We stand fearless at the cliff-edge of doom, courageous in sea storm and earthquake.”
I don’t know what has stolen all of your courage this week, but lean in, oh fearful heart and hear me say this:
If you could grasp the strength of the One you were with and how much He cares for you, you would be immovable.
…You would stand fearless at – even the most treacherous – cliff-edge.
Here’s the truth: Following Jesus isn’t ‘safe’. Whoever told you that God is a ‘stay put – stay comfortable – stay small – and stay quiet’ kind of God, has FLIPPING NO IDEA WHAT THEY ARE TALKING ABOUT. Like, legit, they don’t read their Bible (and you can tell them I said that.)
I speak from experience when I say, while doing what God has put you on this earth to do and while being who God has created you to be, it can feel as if you’re walking through a field of landmines. (And I’d argue, the more important the mission, the more crazies that will cross to your side of the street in hopes of derailing you. )
And yet, while there may be so many real reasons to get afraid, Romans 8:31-39 (MSG) says THIS:
No trouble… will faze us.
No hard times… will shake us.
No hatred… will ever have the power to rope us in and force us to cower down.
No hunger or homelessness, or anything else the world can take from us… will ever be too far out of our God’s ability to restore.
No bullying threats or insults hurled… will ever make us give in, get afraid, or make ourselves small and compliant.
No backstabbing… will ever make us give up on humanity and withhold our own (much-needed) love to the world.
No maniac… no terror attack… no cowardly critic…
NONE OF THIS WILL FAZE US, the day we understand this one simple thing: …just how much Jesus loves us. (vs. 39)
Listen, people! I’m preaching now! (If I were T.D. Jake’s this is where I’d cue the organ) — Because if only you could grasp how much God loves you, if only you knew how irreplaceable you are to Him and could see the position He has taken protectively by your side, not only would you be indifferent to the critic, you would be unswayed by even the most perilous threats, the same way I was on the street that day.
Like my doorman, (but with far fewer f-words) God is standing with us. He’s right by our side, absorbing every blow, and shielding us from anything that has the capacity of tarnishing what He’s restored in us. He doesn’t have to say a word and the loudest, most venomous attacks will be silenced in His presence. (And, side note: I’m learning that if my God doesn’t have to say a word in response to the critic, then neither the heck do I!)
No matter how steep the cliff edge we are up against today — We don’t have to be afraid anymore.
We need only rely on the strength of the One who is standing with us, seek to grasp His unrelenting and fiercely protective love for us, and continue walking steadily, even if painfully slowly, on whatever field of land mines that has been set before us today.
For He is a safe place for us to hide.
(and that goes for God and Carlos the bad@$$ doorman.)