D.L. Mayfield

living in the upside-down kingdom

dangerous territory

I had a dream last night. My family and I--including my sisters and my parents--were going on a cruise. We had been preparing for this, and we were excited. As we entered the large ship, things began to get strange. I saw piles of shoes everywhere. I saw people sleeping in cots stacked side by side. We were shown to our room and discovered it was a section of the dining hall, that the tables and chairs were to be our beds. I went onto the main deck and saw large shipping containers full of simple food items like bread and water, and people lining up to procure items. I saw people laying out blankets wherever they could find room. I looked around, and as the large ship started to sail I had a realization: this wasn't a luxury cruise ship, after all. As it turns out, we were all refugees, and we were all being sent to the middle of the sea, with no idea of what would come next.

//

What does this dream mean? Is it from God, or my anxiety, or my years of hearing stories from refugees, from recent weeks of absorbing the narrative of how no one wants to help the stateless wanderers of our earth? I don't know. All I know is that for all of my life I have yearned for comfort and safety and clear and correct answers, but I have been propelled into the very opposite waters.

I thought about this dream and I thought about a book that my friend just wrote. It is called Dangerous Territory. What is dangerous? The country that she got kicked out of due to her Christian faith? Or the place she came from, which gave her too many simple answers for the complexities of a world broken by colonialism, racism, misogyny, and inequality? The answer, of course, is both.

I think of the dangerous territories I always wanted to live in as a young and wildly self-assured woman. I never got to go to any of those places. I never smuggled Bibles or started an orphanage or led a resistance movement. I never got to be great. I never got to convert anyone. I never got an easy narrative of victory. 

Instead I have been crushed by defeat, bruised by proximity to the suffering, I have had despair of my own complicity in systems of sin dig deep wells into my heart and then--they were filled by a God who always was and only ever will be love. 

In her book, I think my friend was writing a love letter to her younger self, and to all of us who want to be world-changers. I wish I had been able to read it a few years ago. I wish growing up didn't always have to feel so hard. I wish I had been more aware of all the ways our world can be dangerous, especially if you find yourself at the top of an unequal system. 

//

I do not know where our ship of a country is currently going, and this feels very dangerous to me. But no matter what happens, I do know this: I am grateful for where God has brought me. I am grateful for my neighborhood, my life, my school, my community, my friends and family and neighbors. I am surrounded by those who will be the first to feel the effects of injustice. I am surrounded by people with very thin life vests. I am surrounded by people who have taught me how to be brave. I am surrounded by people who have survived more than I could ever even imagine. 

And together, I know, we will work to see God's kingdom established, on earth (and sea) as it is in heaven. 

 

 

(linking up with Amy and her blog. I encourage you to buy her beautiful and thoughtful book!)

 

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