This certainly hasn’t been the year we all hoped for, but even with all the adversity, we have to admit; there have been many good things to come about in 2020.
As we think of 20/20 vision, we had hoped to be enlightened this year, and I think we are… but not in the way we hoped.
Most of the time, when we are praying long, for things we know won’t come about quickly, but our hearts are burdened to keep praying; God will answer in a way so unexpected and, His way might actually shake us up.
I have often experienced the Lord answering my prayers in His way, in which my world seemed to be falling apart, only to find how much better things were, coming out of the storm. God used the difficulties to bring about better.
And I truly believe this about 2020. I think we have been shocked at everything hitting us at once, but as we stand back up on our shaky legs, and we shake our fists at the storm demanding to survive; I think we are beginning to see little ‘sprigs of green’ popping up in several places.
I beg you not to miss it.
Look around, and open your eyes to what God is doing. First, keep in mind that we will never have a perfect world until the resurrection. The Bible tells us in II Timothy, that people will be lovers of self, of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to parents, unholy, heartless….
And if we let the world events today scare us, then our hearts are not readying for the coming of Christ and that should be our focus.
Where are our hearts? We must think Kingdom minded now more than ever. When I was a kid, I thought Christ’s coming was way far in the future, but with the way the world is right now, it honestly could be any day. I have seen God work, and when I have thought He seemed to take a long time answering one of my prayers, He would come all in one swoop to bring it to fruition – I call Him an in-the-nick-of-time God. And I believe when we see the last days, the resurrection will come fast.
So I am not worried or fearful when things get topsy-turvy in the world. I welcome it. I trust God to answer my prayers and the prayers of Christians who are awaiting Christ’s return.
What do we do until then? Should we not hope for better? Of course we should hope. Of course we want better. And, we should be on the front lines trying to make changes for a better world, and turning hearts to the Lord.
As we have noticed the division surrounding us, might we see this year a coming together? Could it be that God is shaking things up to make things better? Do we not want to see unity? Do we not want to Love each other as brothers and sisters in Christ? If we are truly after God’s own heart we do.
Right now we are hearing cries from the grave. Voices that have gone unheard. Are we going to turn a deaf ear? Are we so complacent in our lives that we will not listen to others’ cries because we ourselves are content? Will we not welcome the pains of change even if it means better is coming?
For years, in the heart of the south, I have heard people talk about the confederate flag as being a symbol of state’s rights. That the flag wasn’t about slavery. I had accepted what I was taught by different people who seemed to know what they were talking about. Now that I am an adult, and as a Christian with my eyes focused on the Kingdom; I see things through my Father’s eyes.
And when we do that, we can’t deny injustice when we see it. We can’t sweep things under the rug just because it doesn’t seem to affect us. We are called to Love. I cannot Love the way God wants me to, if I turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to the cries of others.
I have never been an activist or stood on a soap box, but when God gave me my voice in writing, and a publisher who let me talk about my faith; I knew I was given a platform to speak the truth. To write honestly, and openly and to speak to the heart of others.
I cannot keep silent when it comes to speaking to the heart. I am speaking to your heart (I learned that from my Father).
You see, it isn’t about being popular or about fitting in. It isn’t about taking sides. And …it isn’t about staying out of it – because like it or not, we are all in it. We are in it, because God gave us the great commission in Matthew 28:16-20 “Go ye therefore…”
He doesn’t tell us to sit on our bum and be content in our own little worlds, yet how many of us have done just that? I hope my testimony is what God wants it to be and that others see Christ in me. I hope that I share the Gospel of Jesus Christ enough to a lost and dying world. I hope that I am bold in speaking or writing about Christ and urging others to know him. I hope I am compassionate enough to meet someone in their problems and pain and share the answer that I have been given. The answer is Jesus.
And so, how could I stay in my comfortable upbringing, if I know part of it was wrong? If being told a flag meant a certain thing, yet it causes pain to my brothers and sisters? Today’s pain of injustice is crying out. Not just about a flag, or a bottle of syrup, or a box of rice… but today’s injustice is crying out for change.
This is the year for change. 2020 seems to be the prefect year for our eyes to be opened. Wow… I had never seen it like I do now. Thank you Lord, for 20/20 vision. My eyes have been opened to the heart cries of my brothers and sisters who are black. How could I have gone so long in my life accepting the things I was told that made them okay?
I had heard justification such as, “That was a long time ago – slavery and oppression is over….” “We didn’t have slaves, so that’s not about us…” “Robert E. Lee was a great general…” “The flag is not about slavery, but state’s rights…” I had adopted these things I had been told as my own thoughts – and that’s wrong.
And even this last decade as I lived life thinking I know what’s right and what’s wrong, I sided with certain opinions I read across Facebook, as if I was supposed to choose a side. The posts came about Colin Kaeprnick, and his taking a knee not to stand for the flag during the national Anthem. As the patriot I was brought up to be, I was saddened and angry at his disrespect. I already formed my opinion about him not because of the color of his skin, but over his lack of patriotism. Because he did not hold in his heart the Love of his country the way I did, and I did not hear him. I closed my ears to him.
Even if Colin and I are like night and day in our beliefs, the thing I should be concerned about most is that he is lost and needs Jesus, not that he isn’t a patriot. Not that he is disrespectful. Christian, if you can think about where your own heart was before you were saved, you will remember that you too had certain sins in your life and that once you gave your life to Jesus, those sins were forgiven and you were a changed person. We tend to look at other’s sins and pick them apart, forgetting to look at the person and that they may be lost, but WE have the answer. Why, oh why, are we not sharing that answer! Are we blinded by satan’s lies that “They will never come to Christ” so we ignore them? Because it is NOT by our power that people will be changed. It is only by the power of the Holy Spirit, our call is just to, Go Ye Therefore. We are still to tell other’s about Jesus even when we think it will do no good. And in order to do that, we must care.
We are conditioned to ‘take a side’ on controversies, but we must step out of the world’s box we are put in, and we must hold true to what the Word of God says. I love my black brothers and sisters and stood by them in most things, yet when the issue came up about the police officers – even though the police officer who killed George Floyd was terribly wrong, I still feared for my police officer son and other officers. That they would take punishment for something one police officer did, and so I felt a little offended by the strong outcry of the black community – especially the ones who rioted and were attacking police. But I cannot judge this tragedy by color. In a previous article I wrote, I called it for what it was – crime. It was about crime, not color. I am in support of blue lives and black lives.
Right now, our black communities are crying out. Are we listening? I have a very close friend who is Head of School in Chattanooga. She is passionate in her voice, and to give others a voice. Last month, when things were so raw, I was hurting for the police community, and my friend Becky was hurting for the black community and she was encouraging us to listen. I hurt for them too, but my ‘mother’s heart’ was mostly focused on my son, that I had heard enough about the riots and how some of the black community were behaving, that brought fear for my son’s life.
I told her even though I was saddened about what was going on, I just couldn’t listen to anymore. Because I was focusing on the wrong people. I was focusing on the people who were being destructive and who were threatening and killing police officers. I was scared for my son. After much prayer, God began changing my heart. I know not to fear but to trust God, so my fear dissipated as I trusted God to work all things to the good. After I shut off the noise, I was able to hear the heart cries. And, there were people in my community crying out.
Do I really care about the Robert E. Lee statue at the court square in Murray Kentucky?
Do I care about the shame and pain it initiates for others each time they pass it? At first, I was indifferent, “who cares?” What did a carved stone matter? I even used my faith to justify my indifference, “God doesn’t care about a statue, He cares about our heart…” Well, where is my heart if I look the other way when my brothers and sisters are hurting?
When I read the open letter of Sherman Neal, my ears heard their heart cries (and he did so respectfully). My eyes were opened to a new vision.
In this year of 2020 may we open our eyes!
It is time. It is time to hear the cries of our brothers and sisters and stop listening to the rhetoric of others justifying why we have chosen to stay silent, or to ignore the cries of others just because we aren’t affected.
What will it hurt us if we change things? Do we not trust God’s promise in Romans 8:28? That He will work all things to the good for those who Love Him and are called according to His purpose. We are called to HIS purpose, not ours.
The Bible tells us His purpose is LOVE. And that should be our sole purpose. How dare we decide to close our ears and our eyes to what has been going on – and going on way too long, just because we were taught by our parents or people we looked up to what they thought was right… did we ever challenge it with God’s word? Why not? Christian, we cannot be lazy or complacent, we must grab our Bible, look in God’s word and ask His Holy Spirit to convict our hearts on all of these matters.
He has convicted my heart. I hear His word, to Love. My eyes are opened. And now I see trees of green.
One of my Favorite songs is sung by the raspy voice of Louie Armstrong, “What a Wonderful Word.” I used to love that song because of what it meant to me in my personal story. As a writer, and getting to know others’ stories over the last decade, I can now listen to this song through Louie’s eyes. What he must have hoped to see change in the late 60s, can now change if we will open our eyes to this wonderful world.
If we could stop taking sides or fearing for what would be taken from us, and look at the world of color through God’s eyes, maybe we too would see trees of green and skies of blue. The Bible tells us to be givers.
So what if we gave up having the Statues at the courthouse? Or any painful articles of history that really don’t do for our community what we thought they did. We have heard, that history ‘keeps us from repeating the same mistakes’ so we hold tight to our statues and flags. Really? What does God say? Matthew 5:40 says, “If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also.”
If we are to love our enemies, shouldn’t we also love our brothers and sisters who are hurting right now? They are asking us to listen. And now, after processing this last month’s events and taking it to the Lord, I can now say to my friend Becky, “I’m listening,” too.
I see trees of green, red roses too
I see them bloom, for me and you
And I think to myself what a wonderful world
I see skies of blue and clouds of white
The bright blessed day, the dark sacred night
And I think to myself what a wonderful world
The colors of the rainbow so pretty in the sky
Are also on the faces of people going by
I see friends shaking hands saying how do you do
They’re really saying I love you
I hear babies crying, I watch them grow
They’ll learn much more than I’ll never know
And I think to myself what a wonderful world
Yes I think to myself what a wonderful world