So Delta Airlines has successfully transported me from the frozen “not-a-waste”land of Iowa to the drizzly dark green land of Oregon. It’s been about a month since my last post and many things have happened. In my life and the life of our nation.
As some of you know, I have been accepted as full time staff at the Youth with a Mission base in Salem, Oregon! This is, daily, becoming more and more thrilling to me. That is, as long as I am shielding my heart from the ache it feels when I think about leaving Natalie, Casey, the Kolts and the wonderful community of people here in Iowa behind.
God, in this season, has taken the opportunity of my undivided attention (made abundant through minimal employment and residence in a small town) to remind me of how Great and Powerful He is. As I sit, anxiously, in my living room, watching the news, hearing first about a shooting in front of my mom’s Seattle’s Best Coffee inside Clackamas Town Center, then of the Newtown shooting, I feel almost “sidelined”. I want to do everything and anything to make a change in this world of violence, self-worship and dehumanization. I look at my writing in the calender marking tomorrow, 12/21/12, as “the end of the world” and quietly ask the Lord to come quickly. What could He possibly be waiting for?
Then I look up and see the verse, “Be still and know that I am God”, written above a doorway in the Kolt’s dining room. I remember the promise that follows: “I will be exalted among the nations.”
Casey preached last Sunday at Massena First Baptist about the Magnificat. For those of you who don’t know, that’s Mary’s prayer in the book of Luke after telling her cousin, Elizabeth, about her pregnancy. This pregnancy would have appeared to everyone as infidelity to Joseph and would have qualified her, by Jewish law, to be stoned to death. In this moment, though, we see Mary choose to worship God instead of worry. We also see in 2 Chronicles 20, King Jehoshaphat finds Judah encircled by deadly armies, with no hope to defend themselves. They also choose worship over worry saying to the Lord, “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” We know the ends of both stories. Joseph takes Mary anyway and she has Jesus. The Lord sent an ambush against the armies coming up on Judah and turned them on each other, allowing for Israel to spend the next three day collecting the plunder from their dead bodies.
The whole history of mankind has witnessed many atrocities. I’m sure in every generation someone has asked God what He could possibly be waiting for. This week we’ve all been bombarded by each other’s opinions on what should have been done and what should be done now in the wake of these tragedies. It is as true as ever that “we do not know what to do.”
This reminds me of a couple Christmas carols. Maybe because I’m surrounded by lights and evergreen, or maybe because Christmas celebrates something I rejoice in everyday, which is a Savior who is “no stranger to our suffering.” In the song O Little Town of Bethlehem we sing the line “the hopes and fears of all the years are met in Thee tonight.” This makes me doubt the line in Away in a Manger, claiming “no crying He makes”.
Lord Jesus, I don’t know what to do, but I look to You. My God King who became a man to show me the way to live, I look to Your example. I want to be Your agent of love and mercy in this dark dark world. You made this world good and we made a mess of it, but our eyes are on You. I would be thrilled if You came back tomorrow, but if You don’t, I will live each day for the rest of my life doing my best to keep my eyes on You. Everywhere else is scary and confusing. All other ground is sinking sand. We need You so badly. In the face of catastrophe, yet will I praise You. Heaven sounds so nice. You’ve seen from the beginning of time how impulsive and violent we tend to be. Thank You for being brave enough to be born here and then allow us to kill You like the scared wretches we are. Thank You for then defeating death, triumphing over it for us so that we can live in hope. You are the Mighty and Merciful God and our eyes are on You!