Friday, April 27, 2018

A Little Conversation

Straight talk from a small child.

This world is going its own way. It started a long time ago. How long ago, I don’t know. Before Eve plucked the forbidden fruit, the self-propelling state of mind was already present. Lurking. Suggesting. The serpent went his own way long before the first garden dwellers. How long before? I don’t know. Time is just a sheet in the layers of our universe. To be certain, the call to go our own way sounded long, long ago. And it never ended.
Another call came, and I know when. At least, approximately. Two thousand years after it sounded, I answered it. The call didn’t suggest I go my own way. It commanded I go another way. To the cross. To Christ. To life.

But the call began even before the cross. As a whisper. Not two thousand years ago, but in timelessness. Before the foundations of the earth. Before the snake. Before the inevitable choice of mankind.

And it will not end until all who are called by God arrive home safely.
Too flowery? Philosophical? Other-worldly? For some, definitely. For others, the pretty words offer a feel-good moment, but not deliverance. They need some straight-talk from the mouth of an uneducated, doctrinally inept earth dweller with zero experience interpreting Scripture. Well, here’s what my four-year-old grandson asked me a few days ago:
“Mimi, do some people just not care what God thinks?”
Perhaps without giving it enough thought, I told him most people don’t care what God thinks. (But, isn’t that the truth?)

He responded, “So they just go their own way?”
“Yes,” I told him. And then I took the opportunity to explain why God sent Jesus to die for us. I shared a grace-filled conversation with this astute, amazing, brilliant child.

Okay, I’m his grandmother and I thought I saw a theological genius emerging. But the conversation quickly turned to why Spiderman can climb walls. The light of God’s calling flashed in my little man’s mind. Will it shine again? I have no doubt. Will this sweet boy go his own way? Of course, he will.
That’s why the plan came to be, somewhere in the timeless layer.

The point of all this? Creative writing is obviously very important to me. But sometimes, keeping it simple enough for a child to understand is much, much better. Take the time—for our world is not timeless—to converse with the children. We have a lot to learn from them.

Friday, April 6, 2018

A Christian Woman in a Post-Christian Woman’s World

An old song claims a man makes everything and then earns the money to buy everything. The lyrics are trite and outdated, but perhaps, like me before I googled the song, most people only remember the hook: “This is a man’s world.” James Brown composed the tune, but it was a woman, Betty Jean Newsome, who penned the words. Years later, Newsome claimed Brown wrote none of the song and that the royalties due her had not been paid.    Seems it was a man’s world, after all.

The role of the woman was given vague mention in the song that became a classic. The man would be “nothing without a woman or a girl.” The chauvinistic theme placed the woman in the sideshow of the man’s world. She was a supporting character. But not anymore. This is a new world, and the woman is center stage.

The progression of women into a greater force started long before the memorable women’s march in January 2017. That day, I wondered what they wanted, besides the chance to voice their outrage over the recent presidential election. If it’s seems odd that I would refer to women as they since I’m one of them, it’s not because I’m ashamed to be a woman. My womanhood is not insufficient. I’m not weak, or incapable, or of less value than a man. I’m also not power-hungry, or angry, or fearing the violation of my rights, so it’s hard for me to feel their pain. To experience their hunger. 

That particular women’s march was not the first or the last, but it was grander in scale. News coverage gave the event what it needed to clarify undoubtedly that this was no longer a man’s world. Since then many prominent men, some of them newsmen who covered the women’s march, have been taken down by women. Sexual abuse and harassment will no longer be tolerated, and rightly so. But why did it take a movement to give women the courage to speak up? I’m sure there are varied reasons, and I empathize with the women compelled to keep quiet for a decade or longer. The man’s world can be intimidating.

The goal of the modern woman for herself and her sisters is leadership in the workplace and in politics. Women are running for office and winning. Good for them. Many men have abused their power. But misuse of authority is not a man’s issue. It’s a human one. Hopefully, the ambition of the new women in charge of our nation’s policies is pure and the ensuing changes will benefit all people.

But when I look at the crux of the movement, I wonder if the motivation is uncorrupted. I realize protecting the rights of the unborn is far from the heart of the women’s movement. I know abortion is legal and that it might seem the only choice for some women. But it used to be a difficult decision, a choice made under great distress. Even now, I’m sure most women considering this option don’t go into it with a casual attitude. But some women want to change that.

The women’s movement in the modern era demands, even celebrates abortion. And when women march, the message turns gruesome. The displays in the streets have been bloody and the language from the mouths of protesters has become obscene. Signs depicting female reproductive organs have carried the message: “This machine kills fascists.” A banner was painted to read: “If Mary had an abortion we wouldn’t be in this mess.”  

Are women intimidated, harassed, and denied their rights because Jesus was born? This is where my womanhood grinds against theirs. Jesus liberated us from “this mess.” He spoke to women when he wasn’t supposed to. He treated women with respect. He healed them, absolved them, and welcomed them. He gave them a voice. He might have been the first man on earth to support women’s liberation. In the centuries following the remarkable earthly ministry of Jesus, women gained the right to become citizens, to own land, to run businesses, to lead countries, and to fight wars. And if a woman becomes a follower of the One who marched to the cross for her redemption, she has the privilege of proclaiming the gospel. She has the power to gain much from selfless giving. She has the confidence to achieve her calling and the freedom to experience the joy of being a woman.

No woman in this modern era can be held back from accomplishing anything set before her. It really has become a woman’s world. But I don’t belong to this world. I know my Liberator and He knows me. And that’s a declaration to paint on a banner and wave in the streets.