Look, I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. So be as shrewd as snakes and harmless as doves. (Matthew 10:16)
Relate: Columbidae. Dove. Pigeon. Technically, there’s 310 species of the bird and in English the two words are used interchangeably. Too bad. I love doves. I hate pigeons. I love doves because of their theological implications in verses like this one, and in songs like Misty Edwards’ Dove’s Eyes. I hate pigeons because they used to wake me up every stinking morning. Some time around 5-5:30 AM they would be right there, outside my window cooing, murmuring and staring right at me. I mean, literally, within arms reach if that stupid window wasn’t in my way. If that window wasn’t there I’m sure they would have flown right in and started pecking at me. If that window wasn’t there I’m sure I would often have been eating pigeon stew for breakfast.
On most mornings I would wake up with my back to the window but when I heard them I would roll over and there would be a flutter of wings. In seconds they would all be back. I’d open my eyes and a dozen heads, with those beady eyes would be staring at me. If I was annoyed enough I’d make a sudden movement. They would flap away but it was no use. In a few seconds they were back and, I swear, they brought reinforcements. Cold or warm, rain or shine, it didn’t matter. They were so faithful. They were so focused. They were so… I’m getting all tense and angry just remembering that bedroom in the attic.
React: “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves.” Ever think about that? We often talk about the power we have in Christ. This is true, but it is not power like we, or at least I, normally think of power. God has sent us out to get slaughtered. To be devoured.
“Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as harmless as doves.” Way back in my preteen days I remember playing a game with some other boys. There were little green snakes, garters I think, everywhere and we were trying to catch them and tie them in a knot. Catching them was tough, holding them was tougher, and tying them up… impossible. When I think I think of the shrewdness of snakes I think of that impossibility. When I think of the harmlessness of doves, I think of that which is watching me every morning, ready to take flight at my slightest movement. Have we been caught and tied down to the things of this world or are we focused on Christ, ready to take wing at the moment he moves? Snake wits and doves eyes. It is the only way to survive as sheep among wolves.