I walked onto the second story porch to hear a sound so familiar, even though I hadn’t heard it during this time of day for months. Drums.
Not just any drums.
I looked over at Mickens and asked him in Creole, “vodou?” He looked back, “wi”.
He told me he could show me, and even though I knew where it was coming from I went with him. As we walked I tried to learn, and knowing a common theme for ceremonies I asked if it may be for someone who is sick.
Mickens replied yes non-commitedly, then started to talk about the real root being money. For Satan (the literal word he used*), from Satan. “They just want money. It’s not good.”
*We weren’t heading towards the home of a vodou priest, but a green building that I can’t remember the name of for the life of me this second that has ‘temple’ on it as it’s the equivalent of one, for the devil. More than vodou this place is literally for giving things to the devil. Not to be confused with vodou, which is not normally associated with satan by those who practice it. Mickens replied vodou because it all gets grouped together.
Especially haunting on an abnormally overcast afternoon, we walked as the heavy sky was minutes away from rain and I had so little I could say. We circled Bercy and passed the building as they openly danced and raised instruments in the pavilion, a sight I had been expecting since we first set out. I know the ceremonies, the feeling in my stomach when I see peoples faces so in the moment and I get the gut feeling of wanting to wrap them up and open their eyes myself and ask them if they really find hope here. I kept looking forward as we passed men making comments about my presence further down the path and used my limited Creole to try to communicate with Mickens….”When they die, that money will be gone.”
Mickens nodded, agreed, and talked about why Jesus is better. We both knew but you can’t pass and not talk about it as your mind tries to grasp why others would put their hope there, of all places. And as he spoke…it just hit as a low blow. It was so clear in that moment: The exact same idol that born-and-raised Christians struggle with is the key component here.
Money. ‘Security’, or the feeling of it. Social status (that includes what you’re willing to do for more followers or half a dozen more likes). There’s this sad, sick feeling as I think about it – because I’m no better.
Here we are with the perfect, all-knowing Creator of the ridiculous mountain and ocean view I get each day and the beautiful, crisp autumn colors that I’m missing. The God whose character is somehow 100% – faithful, loving, a present help in trouble, beautiful. Everything on the earth is HIS, including whatever coins we’re throwing around for our temporary stuff in whatever country we’re in and what do we do? We choose to chase the money. The beauty. The boyfriend who the world says will fill all yearnings to be known and save us from any trouble. Instead of the one who made it, we go the opposite direction in a feeble attempt to get it and control it and live this great life driven by a bank account or pretty face – both of which are CLEARLY everlasting, right?
Yes, the war is more visible here. Yes, here there’s an actual ceremony going on and members are literally sacrificing to the devil. Yes, people in Bercy are lost. But how dare we ask how people are so blind? How could people choose THAT? How could their hope be in THAT?
Friends, if we aren’t chasing God there’s no difference – whether or not we hide it in our hearts instead of dancing to drums on aWednesday night – we’re lost. We have let the enemy draw glory to something that is not the Lord. We have out our hope in ….that.
The beautiful news is that no matter what we have chosen to this point, all we have to do is turn around. He’s right there waiting. Did I mention patient earlier? Forgiving? Cause those are a part of God too.
We need to understand that we are just as entirely lost as the dear members of my community drumming away today. We need to understand that until we turn to him, nothing will last.
Not just eternally – it’s usually a challenge to get any of the idols we worship to last long at all.
I didn’t mention money being gone at death to be a downer with Mickens, or to be dramatic because that’s the only way you’re going after a dark ceremony – I mentioned it because it sums it up. Work hard, choose the idol, chase it, give yourself over to it, lift chants to the sky for it…and what? What happens? Don’t you feel empty when you look at the big picture with a focus of something so temporary? Yes, it’s important now, I get it, believe me – I have kids too young to talk begging me for change. But how we need to stretch to the One whose importance is higher by leaps and bounds. And then some. And notice I didn’t say ‘waving hello on Sunday’ or ‘reposting that convicting quote on Insta’ earlier. I said chasing
And when you look at the big picture with Him…all of a sudden, it’s so full. The exact same thought that crosses everyone’s mind when they hear the drums…”Why would you chase anything else?”