Riot and Rest
I have been in the midst of 2 riots in my life.
One of them was in December 1984 when a concert in Aotea Square, Auckland turned into what is now known as the ‘Queen Street Riot’.
I was there when the mood of the crowd turned from being entertained to becoming violent.
I saw the change from bands playing music to bottles being thrown and baton charges by the police.
I witnessed what some would call police brutality but equally I witnessed police being brutalised.
One thing I’ll never forget was the look of fear and confusion in the eyes of a policeman who seemed to be walking aimlessly in circles around his smashed up vehicle stalled in the middle of Wellesley Street.
I knew I had one job and one job only during that night. It was to get Nikki and my younger sister through the crowd and away from the violence.
I had to get them home and back to safety.
I’ve always been pleased I fulfilled that duty.
But just recently I realised I never once considered this important question.
When I was busy focusing on everyone else’s safety – what did my own heart actually need?
Shock Grief and Anger
In the days that followed there was such shock expressed at the unexpected spiral of events.
It brought about a deep anxiety and a grieving within for what had happened. There were some uncomfortable questions that surfaced – what did this riot say about the state of our society?
We were struggling to understand what had happened yet we didn’t have a grid of understanding for our hearts to be able to process our shock, our grief and our anger.
And oh boy, was there anger!
We didn’t have access to anything like social media back then, but it was clear we were upset and we were looking for someone to blame.
Anger a mask over our deeper need.
Over the years I have observed that so much of our anger comes from a deeper place within us, that instead of just venting, it actually benefits more from caring attention.
This anger comes from a more primal part of our hearts that is often hidden from our minds. In this deeper place there can be unresolved feelings of pain, anxiety, disappointment and fear that our anger is reacting from.
Disturbing and distressing events such as the Queen Street Riot and recent events in Washington DC this last week can actually trigger these latent issues in our hearts and bring them to the surface.
Yet we can be unaware of our heart’s reaction.
When we are triggered, our hearts will seek out many kinds of answers to relieve this growing inner tension. This can often be quite unhealthy.
After the Queen Street Riot many in New Zealand thought blame was the answer to this tension.
Some blamed the event promoters, some the Council.
Many blamed the crowd and the alcohol and others the police.
Like this past week some even blamed the man with the microphone – in our case it was the singer in the band.
Yet while we were busy blaming others, we were overlooking and denying our hearts the opportunity to find the help each of us needed within.
Because whether or not we were there at the time, we had all been affected.
Listening to our hearts
Things need to change and people we know sure need help – but we need help too.
As we turn from the clamour and the noise that demands our attention we can stop and take time to listen to our own hearts.
We can also start to find the One who is waiting for us.
It is in this place of recognising that we have need, that our God can meet each one of us.
In Corinthians 12 Paul beautifully wrote that Christ power rests on our weakness. It’s the only place I know of that mentions power resting.
Sounds inviting doesn’t it – to have His power rest on us.
Paul moved from trying to be strong to face his difficulties to realising
“when I’m weak I sense more deeply the mighty power of Christ living in me” V9 – TPT.
I now have more than 3 decades of hindsight that I look back with. I would have benefitted knowing then, what I know now. I have come to see the deeper questions we really needed to ask went unasked and therefore unanswered.
I now extend those questions to you:
- There is much going on this world right now that is both disturbing and distressing – How are you? How are you really?
- In this moment what is the need of your own heart?
- Right now, is there anything you are experiencing within that you really need help with?
He longs to meet us in our weaknesses and in our need.
As we turn to Him and talk with Him, we can share with Him all that is going on within us.
I have found Him to be the best listener there is.
We can find how His power rests on us and in time, like Paul, we can begin to sense more deeply His life within us.
During this time I believe some have been shaken to the core.
It is to this core that He now comes.
With all that He is and all that He has to love you and hold you.
Today In the midst of all the noise and clamour He is with you.
He sees your heart, He knows your needs and He is loving you.
And we don’t have to do that all by ourselves.
We can reach out to others and find help to pour our hearts out to Him.
In those moments on Queen Street I knew I needed to get Nikki safely home – but I needed to get home safely too.
And many years ago our loving Father sent His Son to all of us for the same reason.
He created the Way for His children to come home.
To find a way through all that is troubling us to the safety that only He can provide.
Father Thank you that you are with us right now.
Thank you that you are here for each of us.
You are present.
You stay and will never leave.
You never overlook us or forget us.
Thank you that you are loving each of us right now.
Thank you that you are loving us through and through.
Let your love that is being poured into our hearts by your Spirit reach even deeper into all that we are.
May you find Him more and more.
– Mark Head