You’ve got to love these guys. Bill Akers, Brian Dennehy, Patrick Schultheis, Sean Raftis, Mike Konesky, Joe Tombari and Chris Ammann have been playing a game of “tag” since they were at Gonzaga Preparatory School 23 years ago.
You’ve got to love these guys. Bill Akers, Brian Dennehy, Patrick Schultheis, Sean Raftis, Mike Konesky, Joe Tombari and Chris Ammann have been playing a game of “tag” since they were at Gonzaga Preparatory School 23 years ago. The Wall Street Journal featured their story in the Jan. 28 edition. The seven men, along with other friends, had kept up a game of “tag” as teenagers, which ended on their last day of school in 1981. But eight years later when some of the original gang met for a weekend, the game was resurrected. Schultheis, who was then in his first year of practicing law, drew up a “Tag Participation Agreement,” outlining the basic rules. Each year during February, “It” can ?tag any of the other players (though there are no “tag-backs"). All five men signed on, and the game was afoot. Since then the men have broken into fellow player’s homes at night to make the tag. They have frightened wives, cajoled secretaries and hidden in car trunks. Raftis, now Father Sean Raftis, jumped out of a car trunk, startling Tombari’s wife so badly she fell backward off a curb and tore ligaments in her knee. During the entire month of February, the players — who are now spread out all over the country — diligently guard themselves against “It.” Dennehy, who just started a job as chief marketing officer at Nordstrom, worries about corporate security. His office staff doubles as his security detail. Tombari sums it up this way: “You’re like a deer or elk in hunting season.” As a pastor I have seen many people play “tag” with God. He’s “It” and they remain diligent to avoid him. They hide behind distractions and build up layers, psychological and otherwise, of protection to guard against his touch. Some people never let their guard down, though they honestly couldn't say what they are guarding against. They bury themselves in busyness and surround themselves with noise, lest, in an unguarded moment, something should leap from the bushes and catch them; lest a voice should whisper in their ear, "You're it!" The former atheist C. S. Lewis once wrote: "A young man who wishes to remain a sound atheist cannot be too careful of his reading. There are traps everywhere. ... God is, if I may say it, very unscrupulous." The Renaissance poet George Herbert was deeply impressed by God's ability to sneak up on people: "Fine nets and stratagems to catch us in," he wrote. "Bibles laid open, millions of surprises." A person can hardly be too careful. The 19th century poet Francis Thompson tried hiding from God in a fog of opium. He wrote, "I fled him, down the nights and down the days. I hid from him, and under running laughter. I sped … from those strong feet that followed, followed after (me)." But still the "Hound of Heaven" pursued, and there was at last no place to run. When it comes to playing tag, God has a definite advantage. No matter where we run, he is already there. The psalmist said, "Where ... can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there." We hide behind schedules and surround ourselves with noise, hoping to drown out the voice we are afraid to hear. But God waits patiently, waits for the world to grow silent, waits, if necessary, for death to call. Then the voice we've gone to such lengths to avoid surprises us, not from without but from within, and we have no place to hide. Shayne Looper is the pastor of Lockwood Community Church in Branch County, Mich.