Hope

Nahum 1:7-8 (ESV)

The LORD is good,
a stronghold in the day of trouble;
he knows those who take refuge in him.
But with an overflowing flood
he will make a complete end of the adversaries,
and will pursue his enemies into darkness.

Instructions

When it feels like the wheels are coming off . . .

Stop the car.

Take a deep breath.

Call in the family.

Call your closest friends.

Remember – this has happened before and you made it, all of you, intact.

Get a wrench.

Lift it to the sky.

By God’s grace, work on tightening the lug nuts. Even though you know the whole axle may yet come off. You have a duty to do that’s right before you.

Thank the Lord that you still have firm ground underneath . . .

2nd verse

2016 was a really rough year, personally. I know that many, even many close to me, had worse years. We faced death but we were rescued. Others were not.

But still it was a very hard year.

While I know the turning of man-made calendar boundaries don’t really grant a “new start”, there was a hope that 2017 might be a year of healing. I think it might still be, but we once again are facing darkness and despair. It came on quickly, striking another of our beloved ones.

But there is more intentionality and certainty in our steps this time. Swifter action. The fear is still there – the yawning abyss of fear that kept me up all night the night before last. But, dear Lord, may the endurance, peace, love, and even joy that your word promises be ours.

We need thee every hour.

2 Consider it a great joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you experience various trials, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4 And let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing. – James 1:2-4 (CSV)

Heartbreaking implications

A friend of mine posted on facebook: “Our President is new…the Great Commission is not. As our President begins his new work, it’s time for Christians to get back to their work.”

Here was my original response. The only part I left in the comment is the part in bold below but I’m posting my full thought below.

I fear for many of our American Christian brothers and sisters, the “work” they think they’re supposed to be doing is furthering political agendas, garnished with Jesus-talk to give the facade of spirituality. I came of age in the 80s and the early days of the religious right and was an enthusiastic partaker for many years. In this election the mask was finally taken off. Principles that they swore were unshakable (and that they used to bludgeon past Presidents) suddenly were discarded. So I really appreciate the sentiment, Mark. But I don’t believe it anymore. Lord, we need a generation of Kingdom-minded, not Nationalistic, Christians who will have their focus on God’s kingdom and not on political idolatry.

The Republican party is not now and never has been the answer. I repent for ever thinking it was.

Implied in your post is a heartbreaking truth – so many devoted so much time in service of a political idol while the great commission calling on their life languished,and the witness of the American church suffered greatly. Unpopular opinion, I know.

Awash

I came of age at the beginning of the information revolution. I got a degree in computer science in 1984, was on my first set of networked computers in 1990, and first experienced the web a few years after that. I remember when it was uncommon to have an email and almost unheard of for average folks to have anything approaching a “web presence”.

A few years ago I read something by Isaac Asimov in which he predicted the Internet. He envisioned it as a great repository of knowledge where learned people all over the world would share information and truth and knowledge would flourish.

I’m not saying that hasn’t happened, certainly. But what Asimov didn’t predict is that liars, attention whores and knaves would also flood the Internet with their stories and outrages. In other words, he didn’t consider the human condition.

This brings us to today. It’s getting increasingly harder to separate the truth from lies.

We are awash in propaganda.

News of the day

I’m reading the various streams about the new Trump/Russia allegations. I’ve learned a few things recently.

1. If something is unverified, do your best to ignore it. It may be partially true, very doubtful it’s all the way true. Wait for verification.

2. If the tasty bit of scandal is about your “enemy”, work even harder to stand down. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Love the truth. Steer miles clear of propaganda. Bless those who persecute you.

Working hard to practice the above.

People see what they want to see

Now that Donald Trump was criticized (not by name) by Meryl Streep at the Golden Globes last night for mocking a disabled reporter, I’ve noticed an interesting phenomenon: More and more of his supporters are hardening their stance, claiming that he did not and would not do what it certainly appears that he did.

In our post-truth society, there is no getting through to the true believers. For example, I could point out this Washington Post article. But, of course, we all know the MSM is nothing but lies, right?

Snopes also suggests he did.

Of course, you can find lots of websites, many transparently pro-Trump, that say he didn’t mock the reporter’s disability.

I know we’re all guilty of confirmation bias. Do I know 100% for sure that he did? No. But after observing Trump, his petty cruelties and outrageous behavior, for way longer than I wish I had to, I’m pretty sure he did.

But it doesn’t and won’t matter. It’s hardly worth digging into to find the truth. People will see what they want to see.

Decisions

We prayed

We talked

We laid it all out

We made plans

We adjusted plans

We prayed again

Our youngest is going to get the ball rolling and take care of what he has to take care of.

God is good. We’re believing the decision has been led by him and so I’m not going to worry about it anymore. It is done.

Determined to move forward on the new path intentionally, with courage, and to do whatever tasks fall to me.

Not knowing

What do you do when you don’t know what to do?

I don’t know what to do. I’m coming out of my skin right now because so much of me wants to do something, anything. Oddly, most of what I want to do would be a distraction from the decision/problem/heartache/fear we’re looking at. Because about that, there’s not a lot I can do other than offer advice and love and push down, down, down the fear that I feel.

I want to create. I want to dig in. I want to make a difference, to play music, to construct something. I want to push back on the strange feeling of being twenty five in my head and fifty three in my body. I want to do ministry, and to give ministry away, all at the same time.

I passionately want everyone in my family to flourish and thrive. I’m pushing back on the feeling of the unknown, of ticking through every second of twenty seven years of parenting looking, searching, scouring for the reason that not everyone is. It has to be my fault. It’s always the father. But I don’t know the root cause. Maybe I’m blind to it because blindness to obvious things is the root cause.

I know that the future is all we have. I know, I know, usually we say “all we have is the present” but that lasts an infinitesimal slice of time and inexorably leads to the immediate future of the next tenth of a second and all the daisy-chained ticks afterwards. The present doesn’t stand alone – it’s the tail that wags the future’s dog. Choose Carefully.

I am stuck in the not knowing. I’m fighting against fear and the background noise of despair and learning patience in my old, tired, weary soul because while I believe the promise, with all my heart, that all things will one day become as they were intended to be, I know that we are often compelled to wait years or lifetimes for that one day. I’m tired.

I’m writing this because I have to. I’m writing it publicly (not that this will be read, but because it can be read) rather than in a closed journal, because I need to risk.

Lord Jesus I need you. I need my distracted mind calmed. I need to know if it’s OK to just go to bed and pull the covers over my head and rest tonight or do I need to take action? The future has a million different paths. I know the fork we’re standing before only looks dire because of the events of this summer and the awful scourge of this sickness that I hate with the fire of a million suns that has attacked my family. Was I not supposed to protect my family? But how can I fight against an attacker that I can’t see, who always, always sneaks up on me by surprise?

Do I know I would choose the right path?

I don’t know. I’m covered, buried in Not Knowing.

What would have been a simple decision in May now doesn’t look so simple. I don’t know. And it ultimately – if my words are to be believed and I’m to stand true to them – isn’t my decision. And maybe both paths have their merits and ultimately this will be no big deal. If I described the situation to you, you probably would think so. But that’s not how it feels. Perhaps being held over the edge of the cliff so recently has me afraid of heights of any kind.

But listen: God is sovereign.

Lord, this is what you meant when you said we needed to have faith. Faith isn’t believing the Bible to be true, though that’s a good foundational starting point. Faith is believing, leaping, trusting, falling, burrowing into the YOU that your true word speaks of.

It is resting in the not knowing,

knowing that you know.

To be honest . . .

I stated in the previous post that I’m pushing away from putting my trust in “chariots and horses”.

In the interest of truth, after thinking about it, I know I still put a lot of trust in steady paychecks, retirement funds, health insurance, and all the other strands of the enormous safety net under me and mine.

So some spiritual humility and truth-telling is called for. I’m pushing away from some of the “chariots and horses” I used to trust in.