I like peace. I like calm. I have been in very stressful situations and managed to keep my head because I am very good at figuring out how to keep the peace, even if only in my own head. It’s more of a coping mechanism than anything else.
Sharing the planet with people who think very differently than me is wearing on me. Trying to wrap my mind around how in the world so many people can’t see some of the dangers of what our culture is agreeing with and the path that these decision inevitably lead to is extremely challenging, and I end up shaking my head and muttering, “Come quickly, Lord Jesus.” It is not peaceful here.
I was in a cycle of reading news article after news article and checking this and that person’s twitter account throughout the painfully long election season. I went on a walk and told the Lord that I was a bit confused about how in the world I am supposed to live here and care about the future of my kids here if He wasn’t going to come back anytime soon AND AT THE SAME TIME not be consumed with what the Senate is doing or not doing, who is in the House and when would we actually know, with confidence, who our next President would be. I felt in my spirit the reminder that this is not my home and God’s government is the one I need to be most consumed with. I took a deep breath, kept walking and kept rolling around in my mind the truth that God’s Kingdom is what I yearn for and that one day I will be in that perfect place where Jesus is the center and there is no confusion on Who is in charge, Who is the leader,……. There was peace in that truth.
But I still live here, day in and day out. I still live in this city, in this state. I live on my particular street in my specific neighborhood with neighbors I know by name. And whom I have very different worldviews than. There has to be interaction, conversations, laws to keep, and just working with people in numerous ways, some pleasant and some not so pleasant.
I am reading a book, Keys to Bonhoeffer’s House , about Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s life, and I am being challenged that, indeed, there are rights that need to be stood up for. We aren’t here just to wait out our time to be in Heaven. Our main goal is not keeping peace at all costs. He surely has things for us to DO here that are important and maybe even controversial. People to stand against. People to speak up for. How can I, as the author, Laura M. Fabrycky, puts it “live faithfully in turbulent times”? She speaks of Bonhoeffer’s ache as “the agony of responsibility.” He prayed the Psalms and “prayer offered him solace and simultaneously plunged him more deeply into the needs of the world.” As much as I want to bury my head in the sand during these dark days, that is simply not an option.
I was reminded about an illustration from Bible Study that spoke of living as a Believer in this world and making sure you and yours are safe and saved and then stepping aside and watching the building burn, full of people—some who know they are in a burning building and are asking for help and some that have no idea that they are relaxing in a burning building. I could sooo see myself standing outside and just being glad I wasn’t in that building. Just being glad that my husband and kids and other family members were not in that building. And I wondered where my compassion was for those people? I scanned the windows and spotted the DMV employee and thought that maybe she was deserving of what was coming to her. (Forgive me if you are a nice DMV worker. This obviously doesn’t apply to you. I have never actually met a DMV worker that I would have assumed was a Christian. I have never even met a person who has met a DMV employee that was sort of nice. But now I am a little off track…) My point is that we are in the “middle times” of life, of living. People need Christ. There was a “before Christ” for me, and then I came to Christ and was saved and one day in the future I will be with Christ forever and ever and ever and ever in Heaven. But now. Now is hard. Now is broken. Now is sometimes crushing. Now brings spurts of happiness and laughter and enjoyment, no doubt about that. But we are living in some weary days. So what does God want for me to do now in this season of life? How do offer help and hope to those burning in the building?
It’s a question I want to know the answer to. Some people have more “front and center” jobs to do here and are heard and seen by many. Some people offer hope in ways no social media platform may ever see. For us, it meant opening our home on Thanksgiving (yes, even during Covid) to two families that didn’t have anywhere to be on Thanksgiving. For us, it means making a Christmas box of store bought treats, peppermint tea, Coca colas, and a deck of cards to just show my neighbor love this Christmas. For us, it means displaying in our front yard our DIY manger and star with a sign that reads, “JOHN 3:16.” If there’s ever a sign I can get behind or don’t mind offending people with, it’s that one. He is the hope of the world. He is the only one who brings perfect peace. For us, it means continuing to train our kids in ways that honor God and point to Him as Lord of our lives. It could be a text to a friend. A thoughtful gift to a neighbor this Christmas. An invitation to your church. Money to a needy family. The list is endless of ways we, as Believers, can offer the hope of Jesus to those around us.
So maybe, like me, you find yourself living in this tension of “This is not my home” AND “This is where I live right now.” As much as I wish I could ignore all news and all political conversations and cut off people who don’t agree with me, I actually have a responsibility for how I live here, how I interact with people, and how I represent Jesus here on earth.
I highly recommend this book. It challenged me and encouraged me in how to embrace the tension of Here and Now as we wait for There and Then.
I will end with her final words from the book:
“Our civic house begs for attention, and those of us who belong to the small centers of a house can make a difference. The small efforts and the weak centers still matter, and those who will live in them depend upon us to care.”