Antelopes and Nets

I remember the first time I saw a dead deer strapped to a truck. It was deer hunting season – and folks have their reasons for hunting deer – but I was a kid.  The sight made me sad. Seeing such a beautiful, strong animal (possibly killed because of the size of its antlers) lying lifeless in the bed of a pickup truck – well, it was not what a deer was supposed to be like.

At college today, I was given the scripture Isaiah 51:12-23 to read during our college worship service, and I cried. This is supposed to be the happy part of Isaiah. The bit where God starts to restore things for Jerusalem. But as I read it, post-election, I just felt sad.

And I blame the Christian song writer Stuart Townend.

Prior to the reading, we had just sang “Beautiful Saviour”, and my heart sang verse three. I too long to be in that place, where people are so focussed on loving God and loving each other that the rest of the ‘stuff’ we focus on just fades away.

Yet life feels so far from that place.

When I read Isaiah 51:20, “Your children have fainted, they lie at the head of every street like an antelope in a net”, I struggled to read on.

I remembered the deer.

I was thinking about lies and truth. And about the lies shared as truth. And about the truth that refuses to be extinguished by lies.

I was thinking about the woman on the news whose son had been conned into joining a terrorist group. He was killed. She now campaigns to help other mums and their sons. To stop the ‘antelopes’ from getting caught in the ‘net.’

I was thinking about the Syrian children being bombed and gassed again.

I was thinking about night time at Standing Rock and how water cannons were being turned on the water protectors.

I was thinking about the DREAMers, the Mexicans brought to America illegally as children who have grown up in America and know nothing else. People who may get ‘sent back’ to a country that they never really knew.

I was thinking about Americans being beaten up and bullied because of their race, religion or political affiliation. I was thinking about the lie that there is a big difference between being a ‘white supremacist’ and a ‘white nationalist.’

I was thinking about the shifting concept of truth and trust. Once the mainstream news was trusted as ‘the source of truth’, then a different news channel was, and now a web-based platform for the alt-right. I wondered – where will people find ‘truth’ next year? How far right can people go before they turn back on themselves?

I was thinking about the conversation I had with a colleague who had survived genocide in his country. Literally, people around him were slaughtered, but somehow he survived. The church in his country had participated or had stood back and done nothing.

But I shouldn’t blame Stuart Townend. He didn’t put that longing, that hope for somewhere better in my heart. And as painful as it is to see people holding lies as truth, I know that part of being a Jesus follower is to walk with people, to speak ‘truth’ into their lives, to help free the ‘antelopes’ from the ‘nets’. To walk alongside people, and never to walk all over anyone (see Isaiah 51:23).

If a mum mourning the loss of her son can do that, maybe, by the grace of God, I can too…

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