Sunday, July 13, 2008

Alligators and Boars and Jesus, Oh My!!

Today wraps up the first annual "Be Not Afraid" Youth Conference Retreat at Ave Maria University near Naples, Florida; strategically held at a place where there is, in fact, much to fear.

The following list of deadly beasts is authentic and has not been doctored up or exaggerated in any way (and was revealed to me by "Christie," who gave me this list AFTER she picked me up at the Fort Myers Airport... ha ha ha)

- panthers
- black bear
- wild boar (I met a guy named Anthony who has bagged 14 of them with
a bow and arrow. I am NOT making any of this up)
- alligators (exhibit A, pictured above; sadly his ferocity may seem
dwarfed by my finger. I found him this morning, floating just outside
the main hall where the retreat was held. Awesome)
- five species of poisonous snakes (and of course, lots of non-
poisonous cousins)
- black widow spiders (helloooooooo)
- mosquitoes that could carry small packages on their backs.

"Be not afraid."


Ave Maria University just moved into town a couple years ago, in fact, the town is being built "around" the University. It's brand new. So as Christie says, "Nature has not quite gotten the concept yet of "people." It got me thinking though, as I pedalled into town this morning on a
borrowed bike, past palm trees, floating gators, and prehistoric birds drying their huge wings atop street lights (while whistling the theme from Jurassic Park) - I think the scariest presence of all for some of these teenagers is God Himself.

Who is He really?
What does He want from me?
Does He know me, all of me, my heart's deepest secrets and desires?
Do I even know myself?

It's scary terrain, this interior landscape of the human heart, no doubt. But to live an authentic human life, we must step out, wade into the water, take that uncharted path.

Leaving today, with the final farewells and the testimonies of the young, I knew many had discovered some peace. A fellowship too, so desperately needed. And best of all the truth that God is not scary; life without Him is.

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