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What the World Needs Now

As the world is beginning to reopen and life picks up again, I’m asking the questions: Should life go back to normal? If not, what is the new normal? Have we learned what we should have? Where do we go from here? 

The answers to these questions hold lots of implications. From a political stance- what have we learned? From a racial reckoning stance- what is the new normal? From a pandemic stance - where do we go from here? While I don’t have all the answers to these questions I think I have a starting place. 

We were challenged to shift our perspectives.

Our church has been meeting to pray on what we call ‘Upper Zoom,’ a play on the upper room Jesus met with his disciples in since we started meeting for prayer leading up to the Day of Pentecost. God has used this space to speak to me, challenge me and grow my faith. In one of the sessions, as we discussed hard times and difficult situations, we were challenged to shift our perspectives. To look at the difficult situation and ask ‘What have you come to teach me?’ 

To ask that question really requires humility. I know that we’re now well into 2021, but we’re still dealing with some of the effects of 2020 and so I still ask of 2020- What have you come to teach me? And even more I ask, God, how are you using this to grow your character in me? What are you doing in the midst of this?

If there’s anything 2020 has taught us, it’s, we’re not in control and we don’t have as much control as we’d like. Our response to that can be to resist, to strive, strain, and still try to have our way or we can take a posture of humility and seek how God is moving in the midst of it.  

That as my pastor says 2020 was the refiner’s fire versus a dumpster fire.

Humility means to retire, withdraw and yield. I got this definition from a Bible school class. We Bible students even thought to make it into a dance: the humility 3 step. Yes, we were that corny. But, the definition stuck with me and maybe made the challenges of 2020 slightly easier as I recognized resisting gets me nowhere but retiring from my way, withdrawing from moving my plans along, and yielding to whatever God might be doing has much better outcomes. This is of course after expressing my disappointment and frustration openly with God.

1 Peter 5:5 encourages us to be clothed with humility because ‘God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.’ Think Paul on the road to Damascus. I know I’m not the only one who’s experienced going along with a plan that I knew was not God’s and feeling like I’ve hit a wall. When we don’t respond in humility to others and to God, we’re met with a wall and it tends to feel like we’re striving in an unnatural way. This is not to say when you’re pursuing God’s will that challenges won’t come but they’re met with God’s grace. As life spiraled out of control last year and didn’t really gain much control this year, I resolved to not resist the changes but to yield to God and trust that he was working in the midst of the unknown. That as my pastor says 2020 was the refiner’s fire versus a dumpster fire. And as I continue to pursue humility I am finding rest in him because even though my analytical brain tries to figure it all out, I can’t. 

They dig again until there’s enough for everyone

I’m especially working on responding to others in humility, which is really love in action (one of my definitions). And you know it ain’t easy. As the world--particularly the US--has become more polarized on even the smallest of topics, it has been increasingly difficult to respond to others in humility.  I think last year should have taught us that responding any other way gets us nowhere. 

I was recently introduced to the BEMA podcast where the hosts move through the Bible discussing it from a Jewish and eastern perspective. Their theme which has been stated in most, if not all the episodes is to ‘Trust the Story.’ These episodes were recorded several years ago and yet are profoundly relevant. That’s just the way the Bible is- timeless. I digress, in an episode about Isaac they mentioned how parts of Isaac’s story were similar to Abraham, and how he in a sense redeemed some of his father’s mistakes. One example is when Isaac settles in Gerar and as he’s prospering he’s forced to move. When he moves his servants begin to dig up old wells that Abraham’s servants dug but the jealous Philistines had filled with dirt. After Isaac’s servants dug the well, other  locals  say  of the wells: ‘It’s ours!’ Instead of arguing Isaac moves on and they just dig up another well. It happens again. They dig again until there’s enough for everyone and Isaac proclaims “Now the Lord has given us room and we will flourish in the land.”

The BEMA podcast host says this of the story “I wish we would trust in the process enough. We don’t trust in forgiveness. We don’t trust in selflessness. We don’t believe that truly actually being selfless would actually move the Kingdom of God does take some time...but the mission of God is working.” I wonder if the church responded to current culture- the pandemic, race relations, whatever-  with this much grace and humility, what would happen? If we trusted God and retired from our way, withdrew from our plans, and yielded to his will? What would happen in the world?

Photo by Mona Eendra on Unsplash

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