My heart and head have been reeling for six solid days.
I suppose I can't keep silent because all of the racial division is so personal. It felt and continues to feel like a repeated punch in the proverbial gut. It comes with all the symptoms: nausea, increased heart rate, restless sleep. It doesn't primarily feel personal because one of my sons is African American, though that has caused this Momma Bear to perk her ears and set her gaze on the enemy with a fresh wave of righteous anger. Growling louder than before and far more fierce. As much as I wanted to write with that as my driving force, the more I prayed, the more Holy Spirit kept asking me questions. Hard questions. Heart questions. Personal questions. Questions I, quite honestly, would have preferred not answering. Frankly, I was enjoying my sleep.
It's hard to admit it. However, NOT admitting has never led to places of healing, change, or freedom. Only when we admit we were sleeping can we WAKE UP and fight.
As I watched the atrocities of Charlottesville overtake the TV, social media, and radio this weekend, I couldn't do what I have a (known) tendency to do: pray and go back to MY life. What I was missing was (first), this isn't MY life and (second) I am part of the problem.
I was asleep.
The startling wake up call came for me when I began to pray for healing in our nation and asked Holy Spirit to start with me. "Lord, do you want me to use my voice because of the racial diversity of our family?" His response wasn't what I expected. As I read through portions of Genesis and 1& 2 Timothy in my quiet time, I was tempted to close the two-edged sword in my hands. First Timothy was a reading "assignment" in a Bible Study I am doing and when I read its words Monday, I sat quietly. My slumber was growing restless.
"As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain people not to teach false doctrines any longer or to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. Such things promote controversial speculations rather than advancing the work of God-which is by faith. The goal of this command is love, which come from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. " 1 Timothy 1:3-5
I sat quietly and reread the words. False teachings that lead to controversial speculations are counter-productive to advancing God's work. Duh. But, this is the very work I claim to be the reason for my existence. Work that isn't easy or sweet, that is why Timothy's words weren't minced: this is the kind of work that takes raw faith. Controversial speculations were fresh in my mind, on my TV, and flying around our nation like buzzards circling over a fresh carcass. But, the next words jumped off the page at me.
The goal of this command is love.
I had been feeling a lot of things. Anger. Frustration. Rage. Grief. Pride
I tossed and turned on my pillow over this for a night or two, growing increasingly more restless.
As I prayed more and more about what Holy Spirit wanted me to DO, I finally realized that I couldn't DO much because He wanted to reveal to me the reason for my sleep.
I know me. My heart isn't pure in regards to how I feel about perpetrators, instigators, supremacists.
However, slumber is nice because it prevents me from facing my own impure heart. When faced with the option to stand and be heard, to call out sin in another, it forces us to turn the mirror inward. That is where we have historically frozen and put the mirror down when we saw what was reflecting back. After all, how can I say that about them when I know this about me. I had to do a serious gut check about my profound comfort with people who are like me. People who think like me, believe like me, and live like me. Here's the thing. If I don't confess my OWN prejudices, I remain asleep and therefore prevent the advancement of God's work. If I move on and don't face what evil is
As I have pondered these things and so many more that I don't feel like He has given me the freedom to write about yet, I came across the familiar story in Genesis 32 about Jacob. Jacob was terrified about coming face-to-face with his brother, Esau. A brother Jacob had tricked out of his birthright. As the brothers prepared to meet, Jacob sent his family and possessions ahead of him and he found himself alone. Or so he thought. Left alone to rest. Or so he thought. What happened instead, was Jacob spent the entire night in a wrestling match with God. Sounds crazy, huh? But, as I wrestled in my spirit, calling out my own discriminations and the painful realities that exposed, I sensed Him whispering into my spirit, "You can't wrestle with Someone from far away." It's a thought I have had before, but it hit me fresh and new. Rather than resisting what He is wanting to expose and teach me, He desires, instead, to be drawn in close. Even if it hurts. Especially when it hurts. To be wrestling through some stuff with Him means He is close enough to wrestle! Of course, we can't stay in that resisting and fighting forever. At some point morning gives way to day light and as the sun peeks over the morning fog and lingering dew, we face the day changed because of His Sovereignty over us. New identity. New perspective. New walk.
I am forever marked by these days. Not only marked because of the grief I feel for our country, but even more for the grief I have faced as a result of what has been uncovered in my own heart. My interrupted sleep has led to a wrestling that has given way to a limp. One that won't slow me down, but rather one that will allow me to confidently stand on the life-changing, soul-saving, light-shining, name of Jesus. One that will allow me to rise up and walk in full confidence in Him, knowing that I can call SIN, SIN without fear of the enemy whispering, "What can you say?" I can't say much. But, Jesus, He has a lot to say. And, if my limp will allow me to advance His work with a banner of love, I welcome it.
Life-changing days all because of a sleep interrupted.