This post is written to link with Five Minute Friday: write for five minutes on a one-word prompt. The prompt today is “crowd.”
This prompt reminds me of the time I almost died in a fight with a dragon! (Don’t worry, I’ll explain!)
The thing is, we never intended to be there. We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. We were just caught up by the crowd.
I was with my band, playing at a festival in Belgium and, after a busy couple of days of playing, we finally had a few hours off, so a group of us decided to walk into town to have a look around.
It seemed extremely busy, but after all there was a festival on, and we had no idea what to expect, so we kept on going, towards the town square.
As we got close, it all happened very quickly.
Suddenly the crowd behind us surged forwards, pushing into us, almost knocking us off our feet in their desperation to get close to what was happening in the middle of the square. We had no choice but to surge forwards with them.
And there is was, in the middle of the square- the dragon, which looked something like a giant piñata!
We had no idea at the time what the fuss was about, but we learned later that people believe if they get some of the dragon’s hair it will bring them luck in the coming year. There were men actually wrestling with one another in their attempts to get close to the dragon!
We thought this might be a good moment to leave, but our efforts were foiled by the arrival of St George!
(I have yet to understand why a festival in Belgium involves a re-enactment of St George slaying the dragon, but apparently that’s the yearly routine!)
This was the point at which it got truly scary.
St George had to ride through the crowd on a horse, so the security people needed to clear a path. They did this by linking arms in a line and charging at the crowd to push us back.
I don’t like crowds at the best of times, but with the security people pushing us one way and the crowd still pushing us the other way, trying to get close to the dragon, we were crushed in the middle. I felt I was being squashed from all sides and I was really struggling to draw a breath. At one point I genuinely thought I was going to die there.
Fortunately we managed to find our way out to a place where we could breathe freely. As the crowd continued to fight their way towards the dragon, we sat at a distance taking some time to recover and eat some ice cream, vowing that we were going to find out more about what was actually happening before venturing into the town square again!
Looking back, it’s a fun story to tell, but it’s also a reminder of how easy it is to be swept along by the crowd and how it can get us into situations we never intended, that may even be dangerous.
This was the case for the Israelites as they settled in the Promised Land. As I read through the book of Judges this summer I was struck by how, time and time again, they were caught up in what the crowd around them were doing, instead of being faithful to God.
It’s a reminder, and a challenge, that as Christians we are not meant to follow the crowd, but to follow God. We are not meant to be swept away by what everyone else is doing, but we are meant to keep our eyes fixed firmly on him.
That is the path to life.
“Don’t copy the behaviour and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.” (Romans 12:2 NLT)