I’ve an interest in watching presidents after they’ve served their terms. Jimmy Carter became a celebrity face–and frequent nail-driver for Habitat for Humanity. George Bush Sr. shaved his head to show solidarity with the two year-old son of one of his secret service detail. George Bush Jr. has spent much time with wounded vets–visiting and painting portraits. What gets less attention is that he’s been pivotal in working to end HIV in Africa–sponsoring a critical clinic. Plus, he and his wife have expanded their health-care focus into the battle against cervical and breast cancer on the African continent. I would not say he was one of my favorite presidents. But, he’s one of my favorite former presidents: because he specifically chooses to go out of his way to befriend those who are “low on the social ladder.”
Who would you describe as a Rock, Refuge, Rescuer, Hope, Dependable and Trustworthy? Psalm 71:1-6 describes the Lord as all these things, ending with the words, “My praise is always about you.”
I remember my first car, a Chevy Monza. One time I forgot the lights on in the college parking lot for four hours. It was bitter cold. When I returned to the car, the lights were dim. Snow was blowing. I turned the key. The motor barely turned over, but barely was just enough. It fired up. I began to triple-check my lights when I got out of the car after that. The Monza was a car with window cranks, no power brakes, only one adjustment on the seat, no CD player, ½ the horsepower of today’s average 4 cylinder, and I had to add the clock. But it never failed to start—no matter how cold; Even if I had to dig through the snowbank the snowplow left to get into it. Some days I miss it. I liked the style and I loved its dependability. It took care of me well—better care than I recognized at the time.
The Psalmist says, “God is dependable, trustworthy—a rock, refuge and rescuer.” God takes care of us well: better than we are often aware of at the time even if we metaphorically “leave the lights on,” translated “even if we neglect God and our spirituality.”
Take a moment to think about a time had a you had a “sinking feeling” but God came through for you. Worst fears aside you survived. Looking back things even could have been worse. In hindsight it’s clear God was protecting you. Hold on to that moment. Thank God. Then look around. Who do you see that may be experiencing a “sinking feeling?” How might you share that God is your Rock, Rescuer and Refuge? How might you help another to trust God is dependable?
And, if you happen to be in one of those “sinking feeling” times in your life, I invite you to read Psalm 71:1-6 and dwell on the word of hope that speaks to you.
“Faith is the reality of what we hope for, the proof of what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1) Tuesday evening I rode along with the DARE Officer – Officer Ethan – to a few of the 77 Nite to Unite gatherings in Moorhead. What I repeatedly heard was how good it felt to know your neighbors–even if you don’t know them all by name. What I saw were kids running up to Officer Ethan because they knew him from the DARE presentations in their schools. What I tasted was a pretty wide sampling of summer picnic fare. What I felt, especially after a weekend of with two tragic mass shootings, was gratitude for who we can be at our best. People were simply out being kind to each other–learning a bit about people they hadn’t met before and catching up with people they knew but may not see much. Because I was riding along with an officer, I also overheard people name things that were safety concerns in their neighborhood. It was good to see people at their best–caring for their little corner of the world, so to speak.
Sometimes, when the news is bad and bloody, we forget there is still good in the world. Our faith may falter and we may begin to doubt our best and kindest hopes still have a chance of becoming reality in this world. We may feel helpless to make changes–especially when our legislators each seem locked into their own viewpoints and unwilling work toward compromises. Unfortunately, it’s easy for me to become locked into my viewpoints as well. I once read that “faith in God is the willingness to exchange what we think we know for what is God trying show us.” I believe we need to support leaders who are willing to exchange their locked-in ideas for possible solutions that will involve compromise. I believe we need to choose leaders based on their ability work with others with varieties of viewpoints–in other words who are “good neighbors.” Put all the kernels of truth together and we may one day have a harvest of hope.
In the meantime, Tuesday evening reminded me what you and I can do in our little corners of the world to make the world a better place. We can be “good neighbors.” We can refuse to give up the hope that God is working for something better in this world. We may not see it yet. But, faith tells us there is a better day and a better way. You and I can vow to be a “good neighbor” to someone today. We can also pray God will help us exchange our broken ideas for God’s own ways. The world will be better for it. We will be better for it.