We've Got to Find Our Voice
Greetings Narrow Gate,
I pray that this missive finds you and yours well. Please know that I pray for you all daily that you may overcome what seems to be a permanently fear-based pandemic culture. Let's all get our shots, when our turn comes, then get on with our lives.
What is most interesting for me, as a pastor watching and caring for people, is this: Things seem to be getting crazier and crazier around the world. For the first time in my life, there seems to be no normal anymore. Now, generations throughout history can easily claim this as also happening. The Civil War 1860-65, WW I 1914-18, and WW II 1939-45 are the most recent examples for us here in the U.S. Even the 1960s & 70s was a crazy time. But like a ship whose ballast has shifted, things seem to not be swinging back to trim (normal). Our world seems tilted and we don't know how to live after the shift.
Some of us are in denial, some of us are angry and frustrated, some are scared and fearful, and some of us are just shutting down and checking out. I think I'm each of these things at different times. But this much is clear, everyone of us will have to start making some difficult choices soon. By spring of this year, we are going to be needing to make some tough decisions. This means we must think and choose, and to make the right choices we must discern. You and I are going to have to start making some serious choices.
I am continuing with our look at testimonies and today I will begin with King Solomon. Arguably, one of the wisest people to have lived. God had blessed him with wisdom. So, what does one of the wisest individuals to ever have walked the earth say about wisdom and acquiring it? Proverbs 1:1-7,
"The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel: for attaining wisdom and discipline; for understanding words of insight; for acquiring a disciplined and prudent life, doing what is right and just and fair; for giving prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the young--let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance--for understanding proverbs and parables, the sayings and riddles of the wise. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline."
We have talked about fear of the Lord before. This fear is not an earthly fear, but a reverential awe, a loving worship that includes faith, trust and submission. One of the smartest people to ever live is teaching us that fear of the Lord is the source for wisdom and knowledge. The other fear is the spirit of fear, the worldly fear that is evidenced by panic and hysteria.
Funny, but this is just the opposite of what the world is telling us today. Science is knowledge, science is wisdom, this is what the world says. But science and numbers can be fabricated. We just cannot take a scientist at their word anymore. Often, it depends whose grant is funding the scientist as to what the scientist discovers. The details are important for us to understand. We have to crunch the numbers, or at least, have someone trustworthy crunch the numbers. Oh, for the record, I do not believe politicians are trustworthy, and they're the one's selling science for the sake of science.
Just because you and I don't believe something right away, doesn't mean we won't believe it. But we do have the right to ask questions. Solomon said something interesting, "the wise listen" and "discerning get guidance". What I see and hear today is different people all talking and shouting at the same time. No one seems to be listening. I'm watching and listening more than I've ever done in my life, because I am a talker and I know I need to listen. But I'm finding fewer and fewer voices to trust.
But that really doesn't bother me, because I have the fear of the Lord. I know where wisdom and truth reign, and that is in God's word. Don't let the world get you discouraged during this pandemic and period of political change in history. Understand that you are not alone in your feelings of unease and distrust. Just don't let your distrust filter over to a distrust of the Lord.
My testimony today is this: I am coming off the most difficult and challenging year of my life and I trust God more than ever before. This is simply because God blessed me during each and everyone of my great challenges for 2020. I'm not going to list them, because you're tiring of the list I'm sure. By the way, do let me add something new for you to pray for, about me. I have been dealing with some lingering pain and discomfort in my left forearm, right wrist and my tailbone (this is the most painful). This past Tuesday I went to a orthopedic sports doctor. A couple x-rays later I discovered that my right wrist and tailbone were also broken in the accident back in October. I appreciate your prayers. God is with me I know. Where I struggled last year, God was there. Where my family struggled, God was right there with us. As he is right now. He's with you too. God is with us.
The isolation from the pandemic has each one of us discouraged and some of us depressed. Do not think you are alone in any of this. We all feel this negative vibe to a certain extent. But don't own it like you created it or are the cause of it, because you're not. This is the result of the isolation from the shutdown.
The first thing that tortured prisoners are subjected to is isolation. This is to breakdown their ties to other people. The result is discouragement and depression. These people are then easier to interrogate. So, do not buy into this isolation. Communicate with others as much as you can. And remember, you are not alone.
I am going to go to Paul for our final testimony today. This is at in the final chapter of the book of Acts. Paul is in Rome. He has the opportunity to speak to the Jewish community before the arrival of adverse opinions from the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem. Remember that Paul was a Roman citizen. This would carry some additional weight of influence with some of his listeners. Acts 28:23-29,
"They arranged to meet Paul on a certain day, and came in even larger numbers to the place where he was staying. From morning till evening he explained and declared to them the kingdom of God and tried to convince them about Jesus from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets. Some were convinced by what he said, but others would not believe. They disagreed among themselves and began to leave after Paul had made this final statement: "The Holy Spirit spoke the truth to your forefathers when he said through Isaiah the Prophet: 'Go to this people and say, You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. For this people's heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn (repent), and I would heal them. Therefore, I want you to know that God's salvation has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will listen! After he said this, the Jews left, arguing vigorously among themselves."'
Some people today have calloused hearts. For whatever reason, they cannot or will not hear or understand the word of God. This message of salvation for the Gentiles was big news, today it is common teaching. So much so, that now the Gentiles hearts are the ones in danger of being calloused.
What are you seeing today? I see a world in dire need of a loving God. What do you hear today? I hear a world crying out for love, peace, healing, justice and truth. Jesus is the answer. Jesus is definitely the answer. So then, where is the testimony? The church is either closed or has been muted as a result of the pandemic. This is harvest time and the church is nowhere to be seen or heard.
As we come out of this pandemic and political stupor, created by isolation and an over dependence upon corrupted news and communication sources, I pray that we all will find our voice. Seriously, we need to find our voice.
What is your testimony? Speak it!
Do no harm, do good, and stay in love with God. Blessings, Thad Brown
and Harmony UMC