It has been a long week. Frankly, I haven’t wanted to take on the fears and the fury that have been unleashed in far too many places, far too easily, far too loudly. There has always been more than enough anger to go around, and this week has been unparalleled in extremeness, at least in my lifetime.
So I’ve been searching for the words to say and the words not to say, the thoughts to keep and the thoughts to discard…
I’m still without clear answers. And that just has to be OK.
Because sometimes clarity isn’t supposed to be ours. Or at least not yet.
Sometimes finding answers requires patience and faith and trust. For everyone. All around.
And sometimes finding answers requires acceptance and humility and grace. For everyone. All around.
And that’s not always acceptable in our minds. Think about why. Seriously.
We each have our reasons, however defeated or volatile or numb. And those are your reasons or my reasons, mostly for all of us to keep tucked away.
Largely because there are already enough emotions and hypotheticals that have been thrown at high-speed velocities without consideration for the aftermath of the impact. And even if we are weighing the outcomes carefully now, we still have no idea what the long-term effects will truly be.
Because we are not God.
Thank you, God, that we are not.
For then, judgment would reign with a vileness and a bitterness that is ungodly.
And we potentially repeat America’s past, chock-full of violence and sit-ins and protests and more…
Example after example can be found throughout our country’s very passion-packed history. Look to the American Revolution and the Civil War, the Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War, the Korean War and the Persian-Gulf War. There were times where we pulled together for the common global good like we did during World Wars I and II, but there were more times where the battles we have waged within ourselves and our country have been far more destructive physically, mentally, emotionally, and even spiritually than those battles we have fought elsewhere.
And it isn’t like we haven’t seen the riots and heard the debates before, however organic or manufactured they may be, just in the past few years and throughout our tumultuous past. This isn’t new.
Where civil unrest is again the revived way of handling problems. Because shattering glass and burning cars is apparently a better solution to the larger problems. Because bombs and guns and threats anywhere speak louder and more vehemently and more abruptly than a more constructive and useful approach.
Because getting to the absolute core of the issues would unravel us and expose the vulnerabilities we each have.
When we’re stripped bare in front of an exceedingly judgmental jury with unfettered voices, survival mode kicks in and we immediately fight or flight in response.
Which tumbles head over heels into instability and insecurity. A vicious cycle.
And to be honest, such fight-or-flight reactions aren’t new on a global level either. Where countries across the Earth are filled with disputes and marches and much, much worse. Where people are massacred for not succumbing to the louder, more decisive and violent voices. Where educating women would be a threat of outrageous proportions to those who determine the minds of the people, and a gunshot to a young girl’s head is used to quell her public awareness-raising. Where civil war is the only way to attempt survival under regimes so horrific that exile in a rubber raft on an open ocean is a happy alternative. Where children are brutalized physically and mentally to become child soldiers and brides and left to die gruesome deaths, too often alone. Where fighting or flighting are both of the utmost necessity and beyond terrifying to consider, much less to attempt.
And if we’re even more honest, such intensity of emotions and fervor of actions was present at Creation’s beginning. Where a snake’s conniving and manipulative words convinced Eve that she needed something more than the best that God had provided, the outcomes of which decision brought about exile from the Garden and eventually trickled down into the jealousy between her sons Cain and Abel and the first murder. Where hostility and lawlessness ruled instead of peace and mercy, causing untold damages to people and eternity, as in the days of Noah and his life-protecting ark upon life-taking floodwaters. Where fear ran amok when unstable Egyptians threatened the existence of the Israelites in enough horrible ways that plagues were brought upon the land as lessons taught to the unwilling and flight through Red Sea walls was of paramount importance. Where hatred and mob justice defiled the hearts of even the most compassionate, like those that turned away when Jesus was beaten mercilessly with a nine-tailed, glass sharded whip and adorned with a piercing crown of ragged thorns and driven through bones and sinews time and time and time again onto a rough-shod slab of criminal-bearing wood.
And what we’ve seen far too many times in innumerable places is that there is a vast rippling effect that follows the tiny stone or large boulder that is heaved into perceived still waters.
But what we’ve too often overlooked is that the waters have never truly been calm under a seemingly placid surface.
Any glimpse into the world under water, both literally and figuratively, results in an eye-opening experience to see the life and death and the cycles in between that somehow coexist with unimaginable and simultaneous fear and peace.
And thus, we seek reconciliation with such a broken and mended world, a way to comprehend such coexistence without tarnishing our gleaming perceptions of perfection. We seek redemption and desperately search for its rising out of the ashes of fire and fury, to grow life new and fresh and budding with promise.
Because, surely, this cannot be all that there is. The anger and the deception and the mess.
And thankfully, it is not all that there is. There is the promise of something so much more, so much better than what we can possibly grasp. There is the light that shines in the midst of so much darkness and confusion, but yet it still shines with hope because, as long as there is faith, there is hope.
Matthew 7 is so obvious, and yet so hidden at the same time. After Jesus firmly explains the consequences of judging others, particularly when not one of us is above reproach and without utter need of repentance and forgiveness, we are handed an offering, a promise.
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 7:7-12, NIV).
He clearly shows us that the answers are available.
They may not be loud enough for you to hear yet, but His words are present.
They may not be quite ready for you to see fully, but the answers are in the process of being unveiled.
They may not be obvious enough for you to understand, maybe not ever, but the answers can be clarified with deeper trust.
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law” (Matthew 7:24-29).
When your faith and your house are built upon the one Rock that has withstood the tests of time, the turmoils of the whole Earth’s issues, the breaking of nations, the worries of the people, there can be no fear left.
There will always be tempests among us, as passions rise quickly and inhibitions not as much, as insecurities are revealed and weakness is vulnerable.
There will always be the storms.
And there will always be the Rock. Always.
For God has used even the most desperate of times and the most despairing of situations and has offered redeeming value to all who care to seek it.
He has left Grace and Mercy on the table, for either side of the argument to take up His mantle of Peace and to share that same Grace and Mercy freely with all involved as they will.
He has shuttered the eyes and shattered the hearts of people that they may be mended together by the only One who can truly heal such hurts and erase such disbelief, if they so choose.
He has sacrificed Love itself, drop by drop of precious Love blood on Calvary’s hill, in front of and because of Hate and Anger and Fear, as a Hope offering to those who can find no other refuge, if only they want it.
Ask. Seek. Knock.
The answers are waiting. Be patient. Have hope. Hold on.