At times like this I want to be:
At times like this I want to be:
The ill-conceived and deeply divisive UK Referendum on the European Union will soon be over, bar the shouting of a triumphant team, be it Leave or Remain.
Close followers of the media-driven ‘debates’ may be forgiven for thinking that these have generated far more heat than light.
I’m reminded how a Hebrew prophet, named Isaiah, once complained of his generation: “…truth has stumbled in the streets, honesty cannot enter. Truth is nowhere to be found … ”
Likewise, in the frenzied search for sound bites, catchy slogans, sensational headlines and knock-out blows it’s often appeared to me that the greatest casualty in the entire circus has been truth. Indeed it has been virtually impossible to find the needle of truth in the haystacks of distortion, exaggeration, misrepresentation, and blatant deception characterising so much of the farce that’s been called ‘debate’.
Consequently, as in the prophet’s day, there are many among us who may feel that, “… justice is far from us, and righteousness does not reach us. We look for light but all is darkness; for brightness, but we walk in deep shadows. Like the blind we grope along the wall, feeling our way like men without eyes. At midday we stumble as if it were twilight …”
BUT … one bright & shining light was cruelly snatched from us in the midst of all the shenanigans, in the person of the much-loved and admired MP, Jo Cox. The values of tolerance, inclusiveness, justice, co-operation, generosity and love which Jo stood for, transcend all boundaries – whether political or otherwise – and point us in the direction of a better world.
In the name of humanity may we all listen and learn
As glowing orb falls graciously
beyond line of greening trees
casting golden archway to a distant world
yet another day draws to its close …
And freshly arrived swallows
skim surface of verdant pasture-land
dipping and diving in extravagant dance,
delighted to have made their return.
Gentle breeze kisses branches
laden with newly-sprung leaves,
then meanders across closely-cut lawn
rippling through daffodils & tulips, which
bob their heads in secretive assent, while
blackbirds sing their final paeans of praise
And I sit in stillness – apart,
though very much a part,
reflecting on yet another day
lived in One, Who’s mindfulness
astounds and elicits awe
from this unworthy heart
Thinking about a set of painful and relationally fraught circumstances in our locality has provoked this outpouring. I so hope that compassion and common sense may prevail here, eventually, but …
… how quick we can be in passing judgement on others, affixing labels, which tend to stick, colouring future thoughts and inter-actions, thus locking people into our self-opinionated prisons, and cutting them off from meaningful relationship. When we do ‘write off’ someone in such a way we actually take on the various roles of prosecutor, judge, jury and executioner, acting as only God has a right to do and, in effect, making ourselves into little gods. A lesson we fail to learn repeatedly is that it’s not for us to judge another person, or the path he/she decides to take simply because it differs from ours or from what we think is right or appropriate.
A reprehensible feature of our fallen human condition is this tendency to demean others, at the same time making ourselves look good, or better, without giving a second thought about the pain or misery we may inflict. Meanwhile, of course, we deeply resent any ‘discrimination’ against ourselves, and protest vehemently if we’re pigeon-holed or categorised – as though victims of major injustice. It’s a fact, no-one thrives by being locked down in the negative judgements of others.
Sadly, when we write others off we deny, and may even prevent, the possibility of change, failing to take account of redeeming grace – that godly dynamic which is capable of transforming a Jacob (twister) into an Israel (prince with God) OR a Simon (reed) into a Peter (rock) OR a Saul (Christ-hater) into a Paul (apostle) OR (in modern times) a Nelson Mandela (from terrorist into State President)
The wonderful reality is that divine grace sees beyond what we are at present, to what we may become, and even goes to work to fulfil that potential – so, for example, the previously-mentioned, Saul of Tarsus testified later in life: “Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy … so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display His immense patience …” This beautifully reflects how all of us have been treated in the goodness of God, Who rather than writing us off, has written off the heavy debt of our sins, blotting them out, and choosing to bury them in the unfathomable ocean of His deliberate forgetfulness – so that where our sin overflows grace overflows even more.
Indeed, if God chose to remember and mark our misdemeanours we would be finished – or, in insurance parlance: A COMPLETE WRITE-OFF. Instead God can take the wreckage of human disaster and transform it into something beautiful, something worthwhile, something that actually honours Him – I find this simply astounding, and concur with the words of popular Christian song-writer, Bill Gaither, when he writes:
As those who embrace the Good News of free grace, we should find a fundamentally different attitude prevailing in our treatment of others – especially those who may not measure up, those who may differ from us, those who may fail miserably and so on – evidenced by deep compassion and understanding, rather than harsh and terminal write-offs ! We need to remember that at the very core of our Family Prayer we ask, “Forgive us our debts (trespasses) as we forgive our debtors (those who trespass against us)”.
May we allow that grace, which is making something beautiful of our broken lives, to flow out through us, reaching those we’re inclined to write off and so enabling miraculous healing and transformation to occur where needed, mainly within us, methinks …