A few months ago, some girlfriends and I were sitting around a large table at Two Stones in Jennersville, celebrating the impending arrival of our dear friends’ third baby. As we dove into our cheeseburgers and bread pudding, though, the conversation suddenly turned grave. One of my friends’ children had just been through an active shooter drill at school, and the realities of it had shaken up her daughter immensely. More of my friends jumped in to agree, saying the whole experience had racked them with with both grief and fear. I mean, how could we not be afraid for our children?
But, something about this conversation left me twisted up. As a white, upper middle class woman living in Chester County, there is not much violence or danger that I have to fear will befall my family or children. Day after day, I actively choose distraction to avoid being paralyzed by images of other parents weeping over their children, of babies being separated from their mothers, or students worrying they or their loved ones will be killed by gun violence.
But the truth is, someone once told me that NOT talking about these things, avoiding “hot button” issues, is a privilege. If privilege means special advantage, I have it: I don’t personally have to face these fears, these questions, these dilemmas. I just turn off the news or shut my phone down, and go back to my meal planning and my play dates and my workouts, because I can.
And then... last Sunday morning happened. Dr. Reverend Frederick Faison, the chaplain and Dean of Students from Lincoln University (the nation's first degree-granting Historically Black College and University), was the guest speaker. He brought such a strong message of hope and deep conviction on this very topic I had been wrestling with, that I found myself weeping through half the service.
Dr. Faison was teaching on the topic of rest, and took us to Mark, chapter 4, when Jesus calms the storm while He is with his disciples on the boat. Most of us are so familiar with this story. Whole songs have been written about Jesus’ words in verse 39, “Peace! Be still!”
But what struck me most dumbly, was a little fact that he pointed out in verse 36. It says, “And other boats were with him.”
Other boats. WHAT? How had I missed this? Had you ever realized that the disciples were just one of many boats in this storm, probably taking on water, panicking, fighting for their lives? And yet, something set them apart: the other boats did not have a Savior to call upon on their vessel.
Friends, I cannot help the storm I am in. As I’ve already shared, I personally struggle with disciplining my kids, obsessing about my weight, a cloud of depression or anxiety always waiting to pass over me. My boat is tough some days, and I’m sure I’m not alone in that. But what sets me apart from most of the world is that I have a SAVIOR in my boat. I have a Savior to call upon. A peace to proclaim. How can I not be so anxious to proclaim that name, that rescue, that kind of REST from the calamity of the world, over everyone I know? Especially those who may feel like that have been forgotten, marginalized, or oppressed?
The gospel never, ever promises us comfort, security or safety. But Jesus. Our sweet, Savior Jesus, promises us hope. How can we not use our voices, dare I say, even our privilege, to make sure every single mom, every immigrant, minority, homeless child and neighbor knows that they are loved. And that they have hope. And that there is a body of people who hear them and want to give them a voice when they feel like they are unheard or unseen.
“But Megan,” you say, “there is just too much going on. The world is so unraveled. How do I look at the pain, and the risk of losing my comfort and security, maybe even my safety, and DO something? How do I act out of obedience and love, and not out of guilt?”
Let me tell you this:
Guilt says, “I have to do this to earn God’s love.”
Love says, “I cannot help but do this because of God’s love for me.”
So what restorative work stirs your heart? Frederick Beuchner so eloquently put it this way,
“The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet.”
Friends, those of us who are Christians are often insulated away from those with a deep hunger for God’s restorative power. Something is wrong with that picture.
So let me ask you:
Does our time, our schedule, reflect a burden for the gospel to be shared? Do we acknowledge that Christ wants to use us to be his hands and feet, his salt and light, his hope? And are we willing to prayerfully ask what that is for each of us, and even risk something to do so?
Man, I hope so. And if not, let’s repent, as a body, and walk forward in humility.
Finally, let’s come together, regardless of party or politics, and choose grace. It sounds trite, but it’s essential if we want to be effective in our mission. We all come with strong opinions on even how to do any of this, but I urge you not to let that stop you from trying. Please, come to the table with a gentle spirit, tough skin, and belief that, at the heart, our greatest strength is in our shared love of Jesus. Satan wants to steal, kill and destroy, and He does it so well with divisiveness. Let’s instead choose to believe the best of everyone.
Ok, I lied. One more thing: If you’re at the end here and still feeling overwhelmed, I get it. Just take a deep breath, and start small. Take time to educate yourself on a situation that may be difficult for you to understand or empathize with. Volunteer to mentor teens moms with YoungMoms. Help with move in day at Lincoln University this fall. Pray for your unbelieving friends. Take cookies to a cranky neighbor. Make a new friend. Just look outward. Let the Lord teach you how to open your ears and eyes to where he’s at work, and where He wants you to help in the mission that started long ago. He knows exactly where your gifts, your passion and strengths fit into this story he’s written.
Let’s do this thing, together.
PS: Did you struggle with this topic in particular? I’d love to dialogue about it, because I do, too! Send me an email: email@example.com and let’s keep the conversation going.