Don’t Go There!

There’s a species of bird native to where I live called a Killdeer. They’re quite common and if you take a summertime walk near a river or any place where there’s gravel you’re likely to encounter one. Their “KILL-DEE” call is hard to miss but what really drew my attention to them as a young boy was their instinctive flair for the dramatic.  If you should happen to get too close to their young which they nest on the ground, they put on their wounded bird performance. It’s their way of saying “don’t go there”, an academy award winning act intended to draw any potential threat away from that which is vulnerable, their chicks.

Here’s a shot of the “performance”

The more I studied on these birds the more they began to remind me of people. There’s something familiar to me about an animal that lives on the ground instead of living in a tree where it’s ability to fly is a distinct advantage thereby necessitating the aforementioned defensive tactics to survive.  Although it doesn’t seem to make good sense, living by the art of deception in this inhospitable rocky place is simply part of what defines them as being a killdeer.  In my “human-ness” I prefer to think that by making different choices their lives could be so much easier but alas, they have to do what’s in their nature to do. There are no real “choices” for them as far as how they survive other than picking a nesting site that perhaps affords them more security, that’s about it .

We have a “nature” to overcome as well but with a much broader spectrum of choices to make that can either lift us above or deliver us over to what we’re hardwired to do. It’s difficult to spend much time around people and not notice a pattern similar to the Killdeers,  most typically while having a “discovery” conversation with them.  If they think you’re getting too close to an area they feel protective of they’ll do their darnedest to divert the conversation away from it. They’ll scream,cry and yell if need be, often holding up one or both hands using a rapid back and forth motion from the wrist, palms towards you while in a stern voice warning us “Don’t go there!”.  If they’re at all skilled at this tactic, soon you’ll be having an altogether different conversation than you might of originally intended to have. But just like the killdeer’s performance the technique is only good SO many times, an experienced “seeker” won’t continue to follow the ruse and will instead investigate the spot they were heading for initially.

From a human perspective, where exactly is “there” and why are we all so afraid of it? Maybe “there” is a place where it’s real, where it’s personal, where all of the pretenses and compromises have fallen away and the plain truth is all that’s left. A place where there’s an absolute right and an absolute wrong that cannot coincide or abide with the other. A place where we set aside the needs of our ego and lay our self on the altar.  Where there is no ambiguity, and no one can afford to sit on a fence or be half hearted in what they’re doing.

I found these examples of instances where Jesus chose to “Go There” and studied on them. the first one is definitely literal in one respect but figurative in another. Jesus is going to Jerusalem, but in response to Peter’s rebuke He chooses to call it like it is with Peter and speak to the real sponsor of his thoughts

Matthew 16:21-24

21From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.

22Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee.

23But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.

24Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

After He told the disciples of His plans to go to Jerusalem and of what was going to happen to Him there, Peter tried to tell Jesus “Don’t go there” but of course Jesus had to “go there”, and praise God that He did!

The next passage is more of a figurative example that most of us can relate to.

Matthew 21:12-13

12And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves,

13And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.

Why couldn’t Jesus have just calmly moved about the room and “lovingly” convinced everyone to stop what they were doing? Once again He had to “go there”,  perhaps this is one of those instances where I guess you had to “be there” to fully understand it. Sometimes speaking the truth in love to people means “going there” with them. This is one of my own favorite quotes…

“Knowing the difference between who just needs a hug and who needs a kick in the pants is at the essence of what love is“.

I’ll admit that knowing the difference is a tricky business. Jesus always knew it because He had the Holy Spirit living within Him and was able to discern between the urgings of The Spirit and the the deception of Satan. I’ll always be grateful to the people in my life who took the risk and went there with me, who talked to me instead of talking about me especially if “going there” with me wasn’t an easy or pleasant thing for them to do. Thank You Jesus, for loving me so much that that even though they told You, “Don’t go there”  Praise God You did!