Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Cloudy with a Chance of Holy; or How I Started Praying for My Country

Tonight the Star of Bethlehem, Venus and Jupiter converging in the sky to create the appearance of a double star, was supposed to be visible. Maybe it was for some, but here in cloudy central Ohio, I missed it. I missed the holy because of the clouds.

Several weeks ago I started feeling like I should be praying for America. I didn't do it. I talked about it, I pondered a prayer schedule, I asked my friends if they did it. But I didn't do it. A couple weeks after that nine of my brothers and sisters in Christ were killed in a prayer meeting. That got my attention. I stopped theorizing, and I began to pray.

Like a locomotive with an engine stoked too hot, the following week or two took me on a a wild ride into divided America. My window to the world is Facebook. I'm a stay-at-home-mom and we've recently moved so I'm pretty disconnected here. Facebook is where I 'see' people. And you know what I saw? You probably saw it too. A lot of squabbling, name-calling, political posturing, and judging. And that was before the SCOTUS decision to rule in favor of gay marriage.

Excuse me while I choose to NOT comment on gay marriage. Over the last few days enough has been written on it to level a decent-sized forest. Go ahead and read that stuff, and share it out the wazoo. Some of it is quite good. I just don't feel obligated to add to it.

What I do feel obligated to do is talk about all of this *noise*. You know what I mean. You hear it too. If you're on Facebook or not. It's there, always droning. Like the neighbor you had in your first apartment that played his music just a little too loud all.the.time. Constant noise so you can't think straight. Sometimes it gets so loud you can't hear the person you're talking to. That noise. You know what I mean.

There's a lot of running around, flapping of arms, and insisting that the sky is falling. Maybe it is. As an evangelical fundamentalist, I do believe there's a second coming and there will come a day when Chicken Little is right--the sky is indeed falling. And there's a lot of, 'oh Jesus come quickly!' and 'this garbage will only end when Jesus comes!' Both statements I agree with. I do not agree with the tone and attitude with which they are said. It's a defeatist attitude. It's throwing hands up and saying that evil is winning and we just need to sit at the bus stop and wait for Jesus to roll in.

I am fully aware that the Bible makes it clear that things will only get worse before the second coming. Like the forest scene in The Wizard of Oz, it'll get darker before it gets lighter. But let's take our cue from everyone's favorite Scarecrow, Tin Man, lost girl, and little dog, and let's keep moving forward in faith that the light is coming.

Be dressed ready for service
and keep your lamps burning....
It will be good for that servant whom the master
finds DOING so when he returns.
--Luke 12:35, 43

Many people believe we're in 'end times'. Perhaps we are. I'm not 100% sold, since every generation since the Ascension has believed they were in end times. Then again, I'm not saying we're not. The evidence is stacking up at an alarming rate. But whether we are or we aren't, our job as Christians is the same. Do the work. Share the gospel. Feed the hungry. Love one another. And if we are on that overly stoked locomotive headed for the end, I argue that we should be working with more fervor and more urgency.

To be perfectly honest, I am deeply burdened and troubled. Primarily I am grieved for America because I am an American, it makes sense that my troubles would start at home. But I am also grieved for the world beyond. There are atrocities and horrors I wish I could close my eyes to, as I've done for the first thirty years of my life. But I asked God to show me, knowing full well I wouldn't like it. And now that I've seen just a sliver of what he sees, I am sick in my heart. Yet, I have no answers. I'm still waiting for the exact thing I'm supposed to do. A friend of mine learned about foster children who have no personal belongings, so she and her husband organized a campaign to get the duffle bags and a few things for in them. Other friends of mine are burdened about free trade and the workers who fuel the western world with coffee, so they started a coffee business that speaks to that need. Gosh, I admire them and I envy them. They saw the need, they did something about it. I see a huge gaping hole, and I have yet to figure out how little old wimpy me can fill it.

But I know where to start. On. My. Knees. Remember, that's how this journey started for me a little over a month ago. That still quiet voice that prompted me to pray for my country. And I would urge every single professing believer to join me. Stop talking about it. Stop sitting in pews and listening about it. Stop clicking on links and reading '5 things Christian should do to be awesome'. Stop talk, talk, talking about all that's wrong with the world. Stop flapping arms and squawking about the sky falling. Stop being apathetic. Stop being bored. Stop being too engrossed with everything else. I get it. I get it one-thousand times over, because that has been me. But if evil is going to be checked in this country, it starts with the Spirit being unleashed in the hearts and souls of every professing believer.

I'm an idealist by nature. I'm an ENFP, look it up. So I'm doomed. I see the brokenness, and yet I say we can fix it. I know that it'll only get darker before it gets lighter, and yet I say, if we all shine together it'll be pretty bright in here. I can't help it. I can't get on board at the bus stop and just wait for Jesus, and let evil run a muck because the sky is falling. I just can't do it. I have to believe that "hope does not disappoint us." You want a reference for that? Okay, it's a long one but it's worth reading. Slowly. 

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith,
we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 
through whom we have gained access by faith 
into this grace in which we now stand. 
And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. 
Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, 
because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 
perseverance, character; 
and character, hope. 
And hope does not disappoint us, 
because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts 
through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
--Romans 5:1-5

Alright. I'll put my soapbox away. For now. The moral of my long-winded story and tirade? Pray. If you're a Christian American and you are not on your knees praying for this country, then you don't get to complain about how it's all going to ruin. That goes for me too. If I get lazy, then shame on me. And I want someone to print this off--all 37 pages of my wordiness--and slap me in the face with it. Okay, that might be a bit dramatic. But seriously, PRAY. And then do the work the Spirit leads you to do. Pray. Do.

Oh, and the next time a glimpse of something holy comes a long, I hope I don't miss it for the clouds. 

1 comment:

  1. I love your heart Rebecca. Thank you for sharing it with us and reminding us the workers are still needed in the field, so to speak. <3


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