One of the bloggers I subscribe to had this phrase at the top of her Friday email:
2021, I am going to need you to do better.
You would think I would get used to the fact that the hustle and bustle of the holidays never really leads into a quiet month for rest and refreshing.
At least in our history it has been a roller coaster of weather interruptions, health issues and some manner of upheaval that rips away the hope of just tucking the Christmas trim away and sitting on the couch with a cup of hot tea and a good book.
We have managed to pack the first few weeks of 2021 with multiple doctor visits and a scheduled procedure for me to clean up a meniscus tear, plus therapy for an injured rotator cuff. Add to that in our home, some rooms to be painted and the usual commitments for helping with the little ones and I feel the pressure of a too-full calendar and too-little physical resources to meet the demands.
We have added the unthinkable acts for protestors thinking it’s okay to storm into the Capitol building and the actions and inactions of leadership. The pandemic is spiraling out of control in so many areas of the country and yet the strain of closures is causing economic repercussions that pouring money that doesn’t exist into is not going to fix. Voices are speaking out and demanding other voices to speak out.
Add to that the growing list of people in our daily lives who have asked for prayer for so many heart-wrenching health and relationship situations. As we sit to eat our dinner and start lifting people in prayer who have deep needs right now and then we move out into the country and world where all heck has broken loose, the food has grown cold while we move from one to the next.
This morning I copied a recipe for cookies that Rachel made last week.
Hers were delicious so of course I needed the details and I actually made them. But the ingredients confound me because it calls for a “heaping teaspoon” of baking soda. I want to know how much is in the heaping. Exactly how much. I want a definitive measure for what to add to a teaspoon to make it heaping.
I want my cookies to be exactly like her cookies; and they weren’t, by the way.
I want answers to questions that are clear cut and I want to know what I can do to help bring peace to the chaos.
I am asked where faith fits into all of this mess. Where does my Christianity meet up with the mess of the world and this nation and people who are saying they are Christians but living so counter to the teachings of Christ?
I want to be able to give exact answers.
But I can’t.
My answers in conversations may be countered and challenged. I won’t have exact responses. There are thoughts I have that are not fully informed or formulated and there are beliefs I have that are based on what I know up to this point and then there are convictions I have that I will hold to and not budge on.
So in conversation and dialogue and intake and output of words, I want to be careful about how I use my own words. I can see a lot that is wrong and needs to be fixed, but I also see that I do not have the solution for fixing it.
This morning I was reading something a friend wrote about Psalms of Lament and how they have five parts. I read some other commentaries and articles on a Lament and I see this is a place where I can start a conversation with God before I converse with others.
N.T. Wright lists the elements of a Lament as Praise, Proof of relationship, Pathway of intimacy with God, Prayer for God to act and Participation in the pain of others.
I believe this is the recipe for what the world needs the followers of Christ to be doing right now. The exact recipe.
As the Church of Jesus Christ – maybe not meeting in a local church setting, maybe not led by a pastor who called a formal prayer meeting…no. Maybe just each one of us who have been saved by the Blood of Jesus and are seeing the pain and confusion and injustices around us…not with our agenda…but with our hearts set on meeting with God. What if we each one made it a daily habit to sit before Him and bring before Him the pain of others that we are seeing played out. What if we called out to Him to act and to bring truth and justice and wisdom into all the settings that are upsetting us WITHOUT nodding our heads smugly and thinking He must certainly be agreeing with the side we think is right and upright?
What if we just straight up acknowledged that we don’t know what to do but our eyes are on Him and that we are committed to intercede for all of our leaders in this nation? What if we, as Christians, humbled ourselves under His authority and sought His face on behalf of this country and those who are having to make difficult decisions as elected officials in every area of government? Since we do know that is what we, as believers, are told to do.
These are the questions and thoughts I am asking myself today.
I don’t know how much more baking soda turns a teaspoon into a heaping teaspoon. I don’t know how to move forward out of the mess of this country. I don’t know how to end a pandemic and fix an economy. But God does. That is my belief and conviction.
The article by N. T. Wright is much better than I have worded any of this so head on over to it for yourself here https://www.ntwrightonline.org/five-things-to-know-about-lament/