The Time I Looked Down the Barrel of a Gun
For whatever reason, I find myself in the most precarious situations. Once, I walked up on a bulldozer trucking along barreling over trees, headed straight for a church parking when I was on staff at North Cleveland COG. I quickly learned how to drive a bulldozer…lucky I didn’t get run over in the process. People heard the noise and walked out to see me sitting a top a big yellow machine. My first thought when I saw them was, “I bet they think I’m crazy and that I did all this carnage.”
Three times in my life, I’ve looked down the barrel of a gun: once in Homestead, once in Florida City, and once on a lonely dirt road in southeast Tennessee when I was in college. The time in Tennessee is such a sensational story that no one would believe me if someone else hadn’t been there to witness it.
In Florida City, I was doing a ministry project on a Saturday with my friend, Mike Hall. We had just spent the morning talking to kids. We were on our way home. I was driving my car with the windows down. Someone approached the car pulling a pistol from his waistband. What was going on didn’t even register with my brain until about 30 seconds later after I had casually pulled away from the corner and was on my way.
Mike and I just looked at each other and basically said, “Did that just happen?” It was a big non-event that should have caused me to change my pants. Ironically, Mike is now the Drug Task Force Director and busts those kinds of guys routinely.
That moment didn’t really have any shaping effect on my life. It turned out to be just another historical artifact on the timeline of my life…just another story to tell. Come to think about it, neither did the bulldozer, the Tennessee hillbilly with a gun, or the other quasi-sensational events in my life. Crises points do impact us on some level. But, it seems like after the initial euphoric let-down, we resume our regular lives. Perhaps, you can look at 9-11 or Hurricane Andrew as some similar point where you experienced some kind of spiritual yearning only to fall back into previous levels of spiritual apathy.
WHAT HAS IMPACTED AND CHANGED MY LIFE?
A thousand inconsequential actions peppered across the course of my life. I think if we’re looking for silver bullet kinds of moments to propel us forward or to destroy us, I think we’ll be disappointed. Of course, that isn’t a rule. I easily could have had bad outcomes in the three experiences I’ve had with gun violence. But, we are much more likely to die of apathy than we are to die at the hands of a violent person.
Likewise, we are more likely to be greatly impacted by the seemingly inconsequential, mundane actions of a good person consistently pouring into our lives. This conclusion has helped me to press through the pain of feelings of insignificance, feelings and questions about whether or not I’m making a difference. I’ve concluded that changing culture, changing lives, and obtaining success in sharing Jesus isn’t going to be won or lost in some grand event or great crash. Rather, it will be won or lost in the seemingly inconsequential decisions of our routine and daily decisions.
So, cheers to the mundane, the boring, the repetitive, the disciplines. I’m looking for victory…and I think it will be found in the most inconspicuous of places: the shadows, the grocery story, the swimming pool, the office, predictability, commitment, and the routines of life.