I’ve been totin’ a gun.
It’s actually been part of my daily garb for many years, tucked away just out of sight.
But I have a little problem. You see, I’ve been trying to get rid of the gun. How do you ditch a gun? I mean, I could just put it in the garbage, but that doesn’t seem safe or practical. Plus, you don’t just put guns in the garbage unless you need to be arrested for something.
Perhaps a couple of monks can help you understand my predicament. These monks live in Snowmass, Colorado at the St. Benedict’s Monastery and one day, an unnamed monk was working alone in the vegetable garden.
A second monk happened upon the first and tells the story:
“I squatted down beside him and said, “Brother, what is your dream?”
He just looked straight at me. What a beautiful face he had.
“I would like to become a monk,” he answered.
“But brother, you are a monk, aren’t you?”
“I’ve been here for 25 years, but I still carry a gun.” He drew a revolver from the holster under his robe. It looked so strange, a monk carrying a gun.
“And they won’t… are you saying… they won’t let you become a monk until you give up your gun?”
“No, it’s not that. Most of them don’t even know I have it, but I know.”
“Well then, why don’t you give it up?”
“I guess I’ve had it so long. I’ve been hurt a lot, and I’ve hurt a lot of others. I don’t think I would be comfortable without this gun.”
“But you seem pretty uncomfortable with it.”
“Yes, pretty uncomfortable, but I have my dream.”
“Why don’t you give me the gun?” I whispered. I was beginning to tremble.
He did, he gave it to me. His tears ran down to the ground and then he embraced me.”
~~Monk story from Ruth Haley Barton’s book “Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership: Seeking God in the Crucible of Ministry“~~
Ruth Barton goes on to say, “Most of us have a gun– some way of protecting ourselves and making ourselves feel safe, hidden, under the robe…Holding on to our self-protective patterns is one manifestation of our unwillingness to surrender ourselves to God for the journey that is ahead.”
I know it. I mean, I really know it.
My gun, my self protection, is what’s hindering God’s work in and through my life.
And though I’ve been a Christian for a long time…even taken some risks… left home to live my life working overseas...I still carry a gun.
I’ve known the problem of my self protection for some time. In fact, the monk story has been sitting in my drafts since 2/25/12, waiting for the right moment to be shared.
I’ve struggled hard to put the gun down. The sad truth is that I’ve not been willing to take the risk required. Give up the control I hold so desperately to.
Maybe I’ve been waiting for some dramatic moment, some monumental point of decision, like when God touched the blind man’s eyes and he was healed of his infirmity.
Self protection is an infirmity.
Some of us know that. Some of us see how the disease has manifested itself in our relationships.
It isn’t pretty.
But Jesus didn’t always heal the same way. For these, he told them to go. Go in obedience, in faith, taking one step after the other in the direction of holiness. They were healed, not instantaneously, but as they went.
And I’m pretty sure that’s the direct God wants me to go. Down the foot path. One foot in front of the other, pushing through the fears, doubts, pain, one step at a time.
I’ve been putting it off long enough.
It sort of reminds me of Pikes Peak. I’ve been there a few times. I’ve driven up the thing and for a girl from the flatlands, it was a frightening drive to be sure. I’ve taken the tram up. Beautiful and scenic. But I’ve never walked up. That’d be hard. Risky, even. And certainly not quick. The view at the top is the same either way. But for those who’ve climbed, the scenery is sweetened by the victory of the journey, the sense of accomplishment, the fellowship, the win.
I could get the workbook on overcoming self protection. I could do the bible study, take the tram up. And I could laugh shallow and say I’ve been up Pikes Peak.
But I do believe God is gracious enough to tell some of us there isn’t the direct route plan in our trip agenda. There is no instantaneous healing, no quick fix. The is no car, no tram.
There’s something better. There’s ownership. There’s a hard climb and each step is a victory and there’s this sharing in His cross and crown.
Yeah, there’s fellowship.
Maybe that’s what the self protective heart needs more than anything.
So I’m on the journey, the difficult foot path. And my loving husband told me, “Why don’t you take Complete and do the 21 day journey and apply it to this area of self-protection? I’ll help you.”
And at first I balked because that just would be over the top and what if I can’t? And what if it doesn’t work? What if it’s too demanding and how will I know what to do? And a thousand other what ifs. Can you believe that? How audacious I am?
Of course I must do it!
Last night Jackson and I stayed up late talking about it. Self protection is THE thing that is standing between me and my promised land. I simply cannot run from it any more.
So friends, I’m doing something very scary. I’m publicly declaring war on the giant in my land. Yes, I’m trembling in my boots. When it comes down to it, I’m no Caleb. And yet I do know without a doubt that the Lord has given me this land; and not only that, He has graciously given me a battle plan specific for this: Isaiah 58.
If I’m sporadic around here over the next few weeks, it’s because I’m camped out on the mountain somewhere in the wild. Living this thing out with God. Battling the giant. Living Complete.
Oh, how it’s time.
Update March 2015: I wrote this post over a year ago and yes, there’s an update! Part II coming soon!