Monday, February 17, 2020

Thoughts While Reading Proverbs 14

I usually choose to steer clear of writing about politics on my social media platforms. I find that these days we seem to be so divided and easily triggered that I don’t want to waste time on something that is divisive and distracts from what I believe is most important - that is, Jesus and His gospel. I don’t want things I say or write to obscure the opportunity to share the truth that is the only thing that can truly unite and bring peace and which lasts for eternity. And I most definitely do NOT want to get into arguments and discussion about such things on social media. And I am NOT interested at all to discuss or entertain conspiracy theories and such from any side, either. That doesn’t mean I don’t think about and have opinions on politics, but it does mean that I am trying to keep such things in proper perspective, and not ponder and spill about them much on social media and my blog. I found that when I quit watching the 24/7 news channels so much, I have had a much more calm approach to life in general. In fact, I seldom turn the cable news networks on these days because so much of it is not ‘news’ anyhow. Anyway, not the real point of this post, but more a disclaimer before I continue.

My pastor recently said something along the lines that really, it’s good for a Christian to find him or herself politically homeless. That resonated with me. I’m not really comfortable anywhere, though I feel more at home on the conservative side than not, but that’s mostly because of the abortion issue. I just cannot vote for so-called ‘pro-choice’ candidates. That’s my conscience and it’s not negotiable for me. There are other major issues that concern me deeply and prevent me from voting for the leftward side as well, but that is beyond the scope of this post. But that also doesn’t mean I love everything about the Republicans or the President at the moment, either. But….the options are extremely limited so I have to thoughtfully consider and vote as my conscience allows, even if the ideal candidate doesn’t exist. Has an ideal candidate ever existed? Some of what I see among my side of the aisle makes me uncomfortable - we seem to try so hard to marry politics and Christianity and we end up with this weird syncretism of Americanianity that is, to be honest, offensive. Christianity transcends nationalism, but so much of what we see these days is a dangerous civil religion that is more American than Christian. I cringe when I hear pastors on TV sounding angry at everyone who disagrees with ‘their side’ and come across as more concerned about Americanism than about the gospel, and defending character issues in their chosen candidate that just a few years ago they vehemently opposed in others, and honestly I am much more disappointed and angry with them than I am with the secular politicians because of how they distort the gospel message. That could be a whole blogpost in itself, but I don’t have the energy to go there right now. So I’m politically somewhat homeless and more so all the time it seems. As something I saw recently, I don’t remember where I saw or heard the discussion, but the thought was that the more homeless we feel with earthly politics, the more prone we will be to remember that our trust and hope are not in earthly politicians anyway. Yes and amen.

Anyway, all that is a very long lead up to what I actually wanted to write about today. While reading through Proverbs, I came across this:

“Wisdom rests in the heart of a man of understanding,
but it makes itself known even in the midst of fools.
Righteousness exalts a nation,
but sin is a reproach to any people.”
(Proverbs 14:13-14)

I got to thinking, as I lean into and embrace the idea that political homelessness is better for me than entrenching myself too deeply into hoping in earthly, worldly philosophies, this is a good way to pray for our elected officials. Pray for people of wisdom and understanding to rise up and become people we can confidently vote for, and pray for those who we may not always be thrilled with that even in their midst, may wisdom make itself known. I pray often that our elected officials will pursue what is best for the country and the people, even in spite of themselves. I think it is our duty to pray for our government, whether we like them or not….they have a difficult job and they need our prayers, and they certainly need real wisdom. And as I pray, I can confidently put my trust in the One who is sovereign over all. He oversees all by His Providence and I can trust Him to do His will, even when I don’t see it or understand it. I can trust that He is working all things as He wants them to work ultimately. He is sovereign over the nations.

*You can find the sermon from our pastor that I was thinking of as I thought about this at this link .

Saturday, February 08, 2020

From This Darkness…..Seeing the Light

I am wanting to start writing again, both here on my blog and the creative writing I’ve let sit for far too long.  This is an admission of the push I’m trying to make to get out of the gray fog that seems to have settled over me with our recent move. I say recent, but looking at the calendar, it has been a little over six months since we moved away from Texas to our new home near Washington, D.C. Wow. It doesn’t feel like it’s been that long. 

Back to the gray fog, I don’t know any other way to describe it, and part of the whole mess of it is a big sense of guilt when I try to put my finger on my malaise. I don’t have any real reason to be depressed. Not really. But there is just this sense of flatness, for lack of a better term, that I don’t know how to explain which descends sometimes. I’m not sad, but I just don’t have energy to truly enjoy things, sometimes, either. I told someone once when trying to explain, I KNOW what is true, I run to the Word and prayer, I embrace the Bible, and when I’m in this grayness that’s where I find the real life line and a resilient joy that is settled and resides there deep underneath it all, but at the same time there’s this physical inertia that settles sometimes that no matter how much I preach the truth to myself, it just takes time for my emotions to catch up.  But I know enough not to spiral into it, and eventually the fog lifts. It is at times like this when we have major life changes - a difficult move, leaving behind truly beloved friends, community, and church (y’all, I miss my church family from Texas and I miss the friends I could call and say, “Hey, we need to do lunch!”), our second son starting his first year of college and going through all those heart-wrenching emotions of leaving him and his older brother back in Texas for school and knowing they are spreading those wings and flying (this is good, and it’s right, and I love seeing them grow and succeed as they are, but it’s also HARD to be all the way across the country, so far away from them), helping our youngest to adjust to the move and her brothers being away making her almost an only child as far as new friends here know, and as I said before this move, the energy that’s required to start over again here is not always an easy expense.  

BUT GOD has provided a wonderful church here in our new city where we are slowly beginning to feel like we are home. I chose not to spiral into the gray darkness, but to plug in - first in the choir and an Adult Bible Fellowship (I still call it Sunday School), joining the church as members, and starting in January, joining a women’s Bible study. In our Wednesday women’s study we are looking at Romans, and it has been a breath of fresh air to join with the sweet ladies in our group and fellowship over the Word together. I have missed this.  It was probably a mistake when I decided to take last semester off and just get used to living here. I really needed this. And the clouds are beginning to lift. I find that all of a sudden I’m not feeling quite so flat and gray. So much so, that the reason I wrote out all that too honest and depressing stuff is because I wanted to share something that happened recently. 

A couple of Sundays ago, the choir was singing and as we sang this one line in one of the songs, all of sudden I kind of woke up and thought, this is for me. The line was, “From this darkness, You will lead us, and forever we will say, You’re the Lord our God.” All of a sudden the thought flooded in, “He will lead me from THIS darkness, this gray, flat, inertia….one day all will be made new, no more tears, no more flat and gray weeks, and even today, a glimpse of His glory in the midst of the gray today.” And then we sang “Is He Worthy,” and the part that says, 
“Does the Father truly love us?
(He does)
Does the Spirit move among us?
(He does)
And does Jesus, our Messiah hold forever those He loves?
(He does)
Does our God intend to dwell again with us?
(He does).”

Again, I found myself filled with joy that bubbled up to the surface as we sang those words. And after we sang, we got to be immersed in a biblically sound and encouraging message from God’s Word. Jesus overcomes the grayness. He is the Light of the World, and He holds forever those who are His.  His mercy is more - more than my sin, more than my gray flatness, MORE. I am so thankful for the Body of Christ and corporate worship. What a kindness God has done in allowing us the grace of weekly gathering with believers to join in expressing our love for Him and to be taught and encouraged with Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs and the opening of His Word together. 

I am so very thankful.