Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Might be a Good Time to Get Rid of the Beard...Musing on guns and facial hair

This afternoon, while coming home on a leisurely drive from exploring the surroundings of Cusco with my family and some friends, an interesting thing happened…The officer approached the car...while he was coming up to my door, he got a fearfully strange look in his eyes, quickly drew his pistol, and suspiciously looked me over.

Teri and I...June will be our 20 year anniversary...
Wasn’t expecting that one! In fact…every person in the car including my wife, two daughters, and their two friends went on red alert. What in the world is this guy going to do with us? I cooperated. Sometimes my sarcastic side gets the better of me. This time, I figured it might be best to suppress any urge to make the guy feel like he might be overreacting. He suggested to me that it would be a good idea to allow him and his cronies to look into the car. With one hand on his pistol, he placed the other hand up to the glass to cover the sun reflection to peer through the window. Little did he know there was a squirming teenage girl just inches from his face. I doubt it was as fun as Disneyland, but gave her a good scare nonetheless.

Crazy thing is that this was not the first police we had run into on the drive home. There was a police car parked by our car when we got into it to drive home. Just up the way, there was a checkpoint setup with, oh I don’t know, about 400 thousand cops with big guns. Then as we dropped into the valley towards town, there were another batch of police. This is where we stopped to make a “friend” with the pistol totin’ camandante.

We found an old geocache that we planted 2 years ago
After the ordeal went down, and we were allowed to drive away, it seemed as if we all took a deep breath at the same time. I think if everyone in Cusco did that at the same time, there would not be enough oxygen to light a match. The altitude is about 11000 feet. Regardless, we caught our breath and the car then erupted in expressions of relief that we were still alive.
It got me to thinking a bit about the guns that we are toting when we are trying to reach out to people. Think about all of the threats that you carry when you are trying to establish relationships…They may be stereotypes, legalistic views, harsh words, closed mindedness, ignorance, and the list goes on. These are the pistols that we carry when first making contact in a relationship. I am talking about relationships where you are trying to influence someone to take a look at your own belief system. It is called proselytizing. Those in the evangelical circles have certain words for it. Evangelizing, sharing your faith, converting, winning someone to Christ, etc.

Some of the expedition party...
As I drove away, I thought of all the things to say to the policeman with the pistol. “you know, sir, we could become better friends,  but the gun thing is slowing it down a bit!” or  “Is it the beard? Cuz this ain’t the best way to start a friendship?”  or “just because my windows are tinted in the back, doesn’t mean I am a bad guy!” They all came to me as I drove away.
Inside looking out of a cave we found...
We all made it out alive. There had been an armed robbery and the police were sealing off every road that led out of town. It was a bit tense at the moment, but once we got through the stress, it really helped me think about how we develop relationships.

It was a good reminder of how we present ourselves to others. I would like to challenge each of you to put the guns away in your relationships. Start out with as few barriers as you can. The fewer pistols you are bringing into the situation, the more open the other party will be. And no, bearded men with tinted windows are not all bad!

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