“God wants us to wait on Him and remain patient in the face of obstacles and impossible odds. But we want to hit the fast-forward button and jump to the healing, the miracle, the promise.” (author unknown)
We’ve been in a long season of waiting. But I’m kind of a task/result oriented person, and my emotions can fluctuate based on what gets done, how fast it takes, and the results.
However, God is about developing character which takes time and patience.
Like climbing a mountain, we don’t see the full view until we get to the top. It would be foolish to feel frustrated every few yards if we couldn’t see the view along the way.
Or like a farmer planting seeds and becoming discouraged that a full harvest didn’t appear in a few weeks.
I need to take steps each day, plant seeds and nurture them, but wait patiently for the results – the view, the harvest in God’s perfect timing.
This week I was reading in John 21, and God spoke to me about peace. He asked me to share what he said, but first let me set the scene.
The followers of Jesus are cowering together in a room together with the doors locked.
Because their leader, who they thought was going to bring about political freedom, has been murdered. Tortured, mocked, and nailed on a tree to die for “no reason” according to the man who released him to be crucified. And even though some of them have seen him alive after he’s risen from the dead, they are hiding because people are hunting them to kill anyone who has followed Jesus.
Chaos, riots, turmoil in the streets. Fear permeating through the locked doors. Sound familiar?
And then Jesus shows up in the midst of their fear and says “Peace be with you.”
Today I heard him speak through his word and the whispers in my spirit. This is what he said:
No matter what is happening in the world right now, when I am with you, you will have peace. Do not get caught up in the drama of the times. Sit with me. Abide with me, and I will bring peace. I will cover you with peace. Not the peace the world claims void of racism and pandemics and turmoil and killing and riots, but peace outside of that, beyond it, in spite of it. Peace is not the absence of turmoil, it is my presence that is perfectly right and transcends what you can see. If you seek me, you will find me. If you trust me, you will rest in me. If you align yourself with me, it doesn’t matter what is happening in the world, you will be in peace, surrounded with peace, covered with peace. I AM WITH YOU. Peace be with you. Let me breathe on you. Live in forgiveness. Stop doubting. Stop looking for something in the world to bring you peace, just believe the I AM, and I AM with you. Peace be with you.”
During a discussion about the events of the recent murders, our love for our friends of all races, and how to navigate in a world where the violence of some escalated into ridiculous destruction, my husband asked a question.
“What about forgiveness? What would Jesus be thinking/doing in this situation?”
I thought he brought up a good point. One that has caused me to contemplate and consider my thoughts, opinions, and actions in regard to the racial injustice now and for hundreds of years previously.
So many thoughts and questions.
We talked about how we can’t fully understand what it feels like for someone of color to have to be careful where they go, what they do, and how they look. We haven’t been in a situation to have to instruct our children how to be careful when driving or being out with friends.
What little experience I have of that type of discrimination is when my younger brother, in our late teens/early twenties, was pulled over more than a couple of times because his long hair stereo-typed him as a drug user.
Or the numerous times I’ve been followed by men in cars trying to lure me, degrade me, or assault me because I’m a woman. Even as recently as a couple of weeks ago, a man in a doctor’s office elevator undressed me with his eyes. Not a pleasant experience.
But still, it only gives me a small taste of the concern and tension my dear black friends feel on a daily basis.
We talked about how people all over the world are discriminated against, persecuted, and maligned because of their skin, beliefs, or cultures. I asked Brendan, who’s from Australia, if he had any friends who were of Aboriginal descent, those who were native to Australia, and if they experienced the same kind of discrimination.
We talked about how we both felt uncomfortable now with people of color because previously we simply saw everyone we met or knew as people. Not white people or black people or Asian people or Latin people. Just as someone might use skin color as a description of us white folks, we might describe others the same way by their color or ethnicity or culture, but we didn’t think of it in a derogatory way. Is it?
But now, would people assume we did? Had we not been interested enough in the past to find out someone’s story because they were of a different color or background? Should we go out of our way to be kinder than usual to let people know we care about their color? Have I discriminated in some unknown way because the majority of the characters in my books have white skin?
I believe that black lives matter.
They absolutely do. I’ve been ignorant in my assumptions that black people aren’t treated badly “any more” as a whole. I’m grateful for the conversations that are opening my eyes, and breaking my heart.
And I also believe that every life matters.
Every single person whether they’re black, of another culture or race, white, young, old, male, female, unborn, or living with some kind of limitation or disability should never be thought of as “less than.” But haven’t we all at some point looked at someone else and thought they were not as good, right, talented, kind, handsome, fit, pretty, etc. as us?
Not to take away from this current crisis of racial injustice.
But the bottom line is our sinful hearts. Wrong motives. Selfish attitudes. Pride. Fear. Lack of compassion.
And what about forgiveness?
I believe there is a place for righteous anger. God has displayed his in numerous occasions in the Bible. And I believe he calls us to speak out against sin; not people, but sin, calling out evil and injustice. He tells us to speak for those who don’t have a voice. To stand up for those who are in captivity.
But I also believe God calls us to forgive. To lay down anger, and not let it make us sin. Not let the sun go down on it. Not let it turn into roots of bitterness. He says our anger will not bring about his righteousness. Even if we’d like to believe it will.
What the officers, as well as so many others we don’t even know about, did in killing innocent people or turning their backs as it happened, was so wrong. Unjust. Evil. It’s righteous anger that calls it out for what it is.
And, as my husband pointed out, Jesus was beaten, tortured, and murdered in a horrific way too, but he chose to forgive those who did not know what they were doing.
Of course, they knew what they were doing. But they had no real concept of how wrong their actions were. They were ignorant of what it meant in a bigger than human understanding way. They were foolish and led by evil, self-centered hearts.
Doesn’t that describe all of us?
Should we forgive? Jesus forgave us. He forgives the officers that killed Mr. Floyd and the others. He forgives the rioters and looters. And he forgives us for any of our opinions and fears and questions because our understanding about all of it is not his understanding.
He tells us that we see through a glass dimly. We can’t grasp all of what this means. We can’t. Even if we think we can and try to. So the best we can do is to spend time with him asking him to give us his eyes to see. His heart to understand and love with true compassion. For everyone.
Last week I shared about the anti-trafficking organization, Children of the Night, that confused; okay let’s be real, infuriated me, with its funding starting and continuing from Hefner’s Playboy empire. I shared the email I sent and the response from Lois Lee explaining briefly Hefner’s role in her business.
And I wrestled all week with it even in the wake of the horrendous violence happening in our country.
Death begetting more death.
Kind of like my impression of a pornography enterprise funding an organization rescuing those trafficked into prostitution.
But what kept coming back to me, in a gently convicting kind of way, in spite of my justified, righteous anger, was that I didn’t know this woman’s story. That I needed to pray for, not persecute, her.
I didn’t know why she chose to battle sex-trafficking to begin with. Was she exploited, abused, molested herself? Had she been a victim of sexual predators? I had no idea why she felt that Hefner and his Playboy enterprise was her only option for funding. Or how that relationship came about in the first place.
Jesus reminded me that I didn’t know her story.
We’ve all made choices, good and bad. I’ve made my fair share of terrible ones. Many of which developed out of my own background. When we’re confused and looking for answers, we’ll try whatever seems like the best option at the time, no matter what it is.
Sometimes the worst option looks really good in light of our experiences.
Just as I knew I needed to address concern for what seemed like a hypocritical use of funds to rescue children being exploited by the very same group funding the exploitation, I became convinced that I needed to reach out to Lois Lee and ask,
“What’s your story?”
Because Jesus cares about our story. He cares about how and why we landed where we did, making the choices we did. And more importantly, he forgives them all because of his love and compassion for us. No wrong can ever make him turn away from us.
She responded immediately.
Her email told me the basics of who she is—a doctor, a lawyer, an academic, a Catholic. I won’t share the email because now it’s a personal matter, no longer a letter to an unknown company. She gave me very little detail of what led her to begin except to say she’d been persecuted for her position in wanting to help young women in prostitution. She spoke highly of Hefner, even sounding as if he had been a dear friend.
I thanked her for sharing. I continue to pray for her to be blessed, healed, and loved by Jesus.
And I want to ask you, “what’s your story?” What led you to this place you are in today? What’s your life all about? Do you know Jesus like he knows you?
He cares about every moment of your story. So do I. Without judgment. His grace is enough for all of us—even the worst parts of our story.
And I know he started our story, has a better plot for it, and will keep writing it into something beautiful if we let him. So…