Thursday, February 27, 2020

The Art of Crying Holy

I’m not an emotional Christian. While there are a few songs that might bring me to tears in a worship service, I’d rather experience such intimacy in a private moment. When I observe a friend—in the terminology of modern Christianese—getting her worship on, I consider she must be more spiritual than me, more attuned to God. An all-around better Christian. Then I chuckle under my breath. She’s not that good of a Christian. Of course, neither am I, or my eyes wouldn’t wander during worship and I wouldn’t judge my extroverted friend.

A while back, I quit worrying that I’d ever be able to change from introvert to extrovert. I decided I was okay reading in the far corner of the room while others engaged in conversation. God knew when He made me how I’d turn out. Then he married me off to an extrovert and provided a good balance.

My propensity for quiet retreat gives me insight perhaps unknown to the overt worshiper. But still, I wonder sometimes if I’m missing out. The closer we get to the return of Christ, the more I sense my natural disposition bubbling near the edge of the supernatural.

In the past, when I considered the return of our Lord to gather His Church, I would often gaze upward to the clear blue sky. I’d breathe in God’s wonder. And I’d think, no, not yet. And God would ease my mind into a holding pattern. Not so any longer.

Maybe it’s because I’m older. Or because the world is getting nuttier. Or because, while I’m not always demonstrative, I do feel things, and I feel that my Deliverer is coming. I no longer view the pleasant sky as a sign. I sometimes hold my breath to listen for His call. But I’m not afraid. It might seem to others that I’m unenthusiastic. But that’s just me. Without spectacle, void of anxiety, I await the soon-coming King.

I’m glad for the whooping from my brothers and sisters. I’m happy for their raucous verbal acknowledgement of King Jesus. Their cries echo in the hushed well of my soul.

           Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty.
                      You are holy, Lord. Holy.

There’s an art to crying holy. Like the painter’s stroke, the poet’s verse, the singer’s refrain, or the musician’s skill, the cry erupts from deep inside. Like the builder’s monument or the engineer’s design, it carries great benefit for the whole community. The art of one is unlike the art of all the rest, and yet it arises in the same Spirit. It’s original. It’s true. It’s beautiful. And God delights in it.

When I'm standing before the Throne, I might join the celebration with a loud voice. If it happens that way, I won’t fret. How could I resist in the presence of my Savior? Or perhaps there will be an introvert section in the choir, where I can blend in. But I doubt we’ll remain quiet for long. Our cry of holy, holy, holy will surely resonate in glorious tribute to fill Heaven.

After such personal revelation, can I remain still and subdued in the here and now? Sure I can, and I won’t fret over that either. But the day is closer, the art more devoted, and maybe I’m crying holy just a little bit louder. 

Thursday, January 16, 2020

The Promises of Democracy

I ran this piece four years ago as the last election came to view. It’s just as relevant today. The strategies of the current candidates are just as twisted. The words of MLK are just as promising. The coming of our Lord is that much closer.

A true leader brings great hope to a nation.

Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it. Isaiah 40: 3

The world changed when John the Baptist fulfilled this prophecy by preparing the way of the Messiah. More recently, another man spoke the words during a time of cultural upheaval in one of the most important speeches ever delivered. During that speech, before Martin Luther King, Jr. began his eloquent revelation of a dream, he referenced the valley.

Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children.

Then came the heart of the speech and the sharing of the dream, and this man of God included Isaiah’s prophecy. He knew of its fulfillment. And yet, he believed the words held a future hope. For Americans? For peace among the races calling themselves Americans? Most certainly. But Dr. King realized the words were written to proclaim the coming of Christ. To mark the day when the glory of the Lord would be revealed, and all flesh would see it together.

Evil shut the mouth of John the Baptist, but the prophecy rang true and the message did not end. The voice of Dr. King met evil as well. But his dream didn’t end. Great loss was suffered, and great progress made in exalting that dark and desolate valley. A servant of God, one with a vision and a voice, can bring great change, exalt valleys, flatten mountains, straighten what is crooked and smooth the rough places.

But not completely. Evil still lurks. Some claim the media is responsible for stirring the racial tension rising up in America today. In reality, Satan is behind it. And he’s got his claw in politics too. Absurd comments from this unusual crop of presidential candidates seem to result in a tangled, ridiculous waste of time. No potential leader possesses the vision and voice to lift us from the sinking wasteland, or flatten any mountain blocking a secure and united future. 

I long for the vision of a man who was murdered when I was a child. As a white Southern girl, perhaps I didn’t fully appreciate his legacy. But now, as Christian woman, I can see the greatness of his message and his leadership. But I have a dream that One even greater will come to rule the world with truth and justice. Thank God, prophecy will soon be fulfilled again. He is coming.

I have a dream that I can gather with all races to worship in freedom. But it’s not a dream—not anymore. It’s reality every time we gather in my Southern Baptist Church. It would have never been this way in the past. But now, it’s nothing to even note. We’re just family.

I have a dream that come November I can step into the voting booth and mark a reasonable choice. But not all dreams are meant to be. I know this much: God appoints leaders. Some to lead with greatness. Some, by their ungodliness, to bring a nation to turn from their rebellion against God or else meet their end. I wonder what Dr. King’s prayer for our nation would be today. He might still hold firm to the promises of democracy. Hope is not yet lost. Or perhaps he would simply pray: Even so, come, Lord Jesus.

Click here to read Dr. King's  "I Have a Dream..." speech.