I’m grieving right now.
I’m grieving for the world.
I’m grieving for the United States.
I’m grieving for the people of El Paso and Dayton and countless other cities where too many people have lost their lives because we, in America, are addicted to our guns and our violence. I’m also grieving for the first responders.
These brave men and women give so selflessly of themselves to serve their communities. They suffer more than most of you reading this post will ever know. Many of them suffer in silence. Many of them drown their suffering in alcohol or pills or sex or suicide or whatever they can find to dull the pain.
I know they do this. I know because I did it.
Here’s the thing. Humans weren’t made for this. We weren’t made to murder each other. We weren’t made to take lives, including our own, through violence or any other means. How do I know this? Because I am a Christian and I believe God’s Word.
In the beginning, God created. He created all things that existed and He created mankind. He created mankind in His own image, to model and show the world what He was like. And when He had created mankind, He said it was “very good.” If you’ve never read the story or have never really reflected on it or just want to read it again, I invite you to read Genesis 1-3.
But something went wrong.
We chose. Adam chose. Mankind chose to turn our backs on our good Creator and go it our own way. Our pride drove us to make a decision that has proven to be catastrophic for the world. We chose disobedience over obedience. We chose our own will over God’s will. We chose our own way over God’s way. And sin entered the world.
Now look where we are.
We murder and slander and scream and eradicate and destroy and crush our fellow man and the world that God has created that He called good. We flounder around searching for answers to our own problems and yet turn our eyes and hearts away from the very person that can and has and will answer every question that we have, every answer we seek.
Here’s the reality. There are no answers to our problems in America or in the world without the person of Jesus Christ.
Education can’t be the answer. We’ve tried that. We are the most educated and advanced society the world has ever known. Yet, murder and suicide and assaults and vitriol and racism have never been more rampant. We are so busy shouting at each other and accusing one another and pointing fingers that we cannot see the forest for the trees. If education could solve our problems, we would not see racism and all the other problems we see.
Tolerance can’t be the answer. We’ve tried that. Only our so-called tolerance isn’t really tolerance. We are only tolerant of those who are like us, who agree with us. And so our shouting and biting words tear us apart.
There are no answers to our problems apart from the person of Jesus Christ.
While we grieve (rightly so) and demand change (also rightly so), let’s also not forget that there is very real human collateral damage here. Children are dying. Teenagers are dying. Adults are dying. First responders and soldiers suffer within their own hearts and minds the fall out of having to deal with constant death and depravity.
There are no answers to our problems apart from the person of Jesus Christ. It is only in Him that we will find the peace with ourselves and one another that we so desperately need and crave. So while we have our debates about gun control, racism and many other things, let us hear again the words of our Saviour.
“Come to me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
A Prayer for the Human Family (Book of Common Prayer):
O God, you made us in your own image, and you have redeemed us through your Son Jesus Christ: Look with compassion on the whole human family; take away the arrogance and hatred which infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us; unite us in bonds of love; and work through our struggle and confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth; that, in your good time, all nations and races may serve you in harmony around your heavenly throne; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Soli Deo Gloria!
“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” – Jesus, the Christ
Something happened last night that I want to tell you about. Since things fell apart with our re-plant here, I’ve been looking for a job. One of the things I’ve done in the meantime is drive for Uber. While it’s not perfect, it’s flexible and, in a busy city like Nashville, one can actually make decent money doing it. So I drive people around at night.
Last night, my last trip for the night, I picked up a young man from a “party barge” here in Nashville. When I pulled up, his friends had to help him stand up. Typically, I have a strict rule that people who can’t stand under their own power because of intoxication can’t get in my car. I don’t want them puking in my car.
Be that as it may, last night I let it ride. He was a young man. I don’t know how old he was but he was young. His friends said, “Thank you for taking care of him,” loaded him in my back seat and off they went. I tried to engage him in conversation but he was do drunk he could barely speak.
And, for a few minutes, I had some not very nice things to say about that young man in my own head.
As I was turning into his neighborhood, he passed out. I heard the thump of him landing partially in the back floorboard. I stopped the car, pulled him into an upright position (glad I work out so I was strong enough to do that without throwing my back out!) and asked him if he was okay. He mumbled something and leaned against the window. When I got to his house, I had to physically help him walk, almost carrying him. We got to his front door and somehow he managed to type in the code on his lock and open the door. He leaned against the wall and slurred out, “Thank you so much,” and hugged me. When I stepped back, I looked into his eyes and there it was. Through the drunken stupor, I could see it.
I walked back to my car and prayed for that young man, that the Spirit would bring him to new life, that he would hear the good news about Jesus and repent and believe. And I’ve been thinking about all this all night last night and today. I don’t remember that young man’s name but I hope I meet him again someday. I want to ask his forgiveness for my condemnation of him.
Let me be clear. I am no different than him. Neither are you.
The truth is that we are all trying to drown our pain, our uncertainties, our fears. It might not be in booze but we’re all medicating ourselves with something. My medication isn’t booze. Right now, my medication is anger and sadness and self-loathing.
What’s yours? What is it that you are hiding, what pain are you carrying, what frustration keeps you up at night? And what are you using to “medicate” it away? Is it sex, money, your job, your spouse, your kids, porn? What is it?
I love Jesus. There are so many things I love about Him but the thing I think I love about Him the most is that He is gentle. Not one single person who came before Jesus as a sinner (and they were all sinners), admitting their own need did He turn away. He wasn’t harsh or unkind to the sick and wounded and desperate and heartbroken.
No, He was kind and gentle and loving.
You don’t have to have your shit together before you come to Jesus. In fact, please don’t. Because if you’ve got things figured out and you’re all good before you come to Jesus, then it’s not Jesus you’re looking to for salvation; it’s you.
Oh, that we would all recognize that we are no different than that young man last night. We are all drowning our pain and problems in something other than what will actually help us. Jesus is looking at us saying, “Aren’t you tired? Haven’t you gotten tired of trying to fix it all by yourself? You can’t fix it. Just come to Me. Rest in Me. Rest.”
Jesus never promised that He would “fix” all your problems. In fact, He still hasn’t fixed my perceived problem. See, I think my problem is that I was wronged and now I need to make it go away and I need a good paying job and I need…..fill in your own blank.
Jesus didn’t say He was going to fix all that. What He promises us is that, if we will come to Him, we will find rest for our weary souls. You need rest. I need rest. Everyone needs rest. And one day, Jesus will return and we will know an eternal kind of rest that we can only now imagine.
Our souls cry out for rest.
That rest can only be found in Jesus. He is the Christ and He offers Himself to us. What grace, what marvelous, astounding, staggering grace!
Come, friends. Come to Jesus and find rest.
Soli Deo Gloria!