I’ve been thinking about the last two verses of Psalm 139 today
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
Psalm 139:23-24 (NIV)
This morning I am going to have a cardiac ultrasound, a procedure where they look at my heart and the blood vessels around it to see if there are any blockages. With my family heart history, the doctor thought it would be worthwhile to do a “heart check.” I’m glad they are being preventative instead of waiting for a “cardiac event” to take place!
Beyond having my heart checked for any signs of a future issue, I want my loving heavenly Father to check my heart today as well. I know that there can be little parts of my heart that are living in rebellion to God and His ways. I want to constantly be discovering those areas and surrender access to the Holy Spirit for Him to lead me toward being fully and wholly submitted to His ways.
Softhearted people are humble, teachable, and care for those who are in need. In this season of upheaval in our country I want to unlearn the things I have assumed about the world, and begin to see others through a different lens. One of my values is to be a “lifelong learner”, never assuming I fully understand or know everything about any topic. This is a season for listening and learning for us.
Our country feels like it is crying out for justice and love.
I feel like our country is longing for heaven. Love, peace, justice, respect, honor, acceptance, equal rights, freedom from fear… these things are all aspects of the kingdom of God that we are called to bring to Earth every single day.
What does it look like for our conversations in this season to take on the tone of learning? As it relates to the racial issues and unrest in our country – can we admit that we have a lot to learn from people who live near us, but don’t look like us? I applaud those who are trying to understand more even when making the inevitable mistakes in saying something insensitive without realizing it.
The humility of quarterback Drew Brees today was refreshing when he walked back comments he had made that were too broad in their scope. He was trying to engage in loving and supporting others, but in his words, he “missed the mark.”
"I am sick about the way my comments were perceived yesterday, but I take full responsibility and accountability. I recognize that I should do less talking and more listening. When the black community is talking about their pain, we all need to listen. For that, I am very sorry and I ask your forgiveness."
Brees was trying to wade into a conversation about race and his comments needed to be a bit more tempered. I love his heart in trying to love well and learn about the world view and experiences of others.
The truth I must remember is that other people have incredibly diverse backgrounds, and their hurts, triggers, and the way they have been conditioned to respond in certain situations is very different from my own.
I personally became aware of racial tension in first grade when I watched my best friend Tommy Johnston being picked on repeatedly on the playground. It was 1975 and kids in Chico didn’t encounter very many people of color – and the unknown became a threat to them instead of a wonderful adventure in understanding another human. Most of the time we tried not to listen to the awful names that kids on the playground called him. There were quite a few times that those words built up and Tommy would go all “incredible hulk” on them. More than a few kids were pushed to the ground on the playground by Tommy while I held his jacket. Proverbs 12:18 says “reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing." I wasn’t a very wise first grader, so I don’t know that I ever spoke words of blessing and healing over Tommy.
When I look back on at that time, I feel like Paul (Acts 8:1) holding the jackets for the people who were stoning Stephen to death in Acts 7: though supportive of my friend, I was sponsoring first grade violence.
In these days I have been thinking about Cain’s response to God when he asked where his brother Abel was (after he was lying dead on the ground). Cain says to God, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” The question seems to imply that Cain doesn’t feel “responsible for Abel.” I don’t want to try to escape responsibility for loving and caring for others and for issues of justice – I want to move toward them and embrace them.
I share these stories to encourage you to take a posture of learning, no matter your age, ethnicity, culture, or background. These are days to speak words of blessing, and powerful words of healing over others. This is a season for the church to rise up and set an example by walking in humility and love for the world to follow.
It all starts with a heart checkup.
It’s time to take a look in there and see where the blockages are. It’s a season where we need to reflect, be honest with ourselves, humble ourselves, and grow.
“What can I do in days like this?” you might ask.
- Pray: Continual prayer is required of us. Prayer is our best weapon against the schemes of the enemy that tries to divide us and sow hatred and disrespect into our world’s systems.
- Listen: If you think you understand all of what’s going on then you have already missed out on good lessons. Let us be people who are lifelong learners who seek to understand and ask follow up questions when we don’t understand what we are seeing.
- Love: We have just walked through “50 days to love” as a church, and it is my deep desire that we would live a lifestyle of love in new ways. Whoever you see on the news who you find yourself feeling yucky about – that’s the person Jesus wants you to start praying for. If we aren’t willing to pray for those who we perceive to be “evil” then we are in real trouble. When we pray for others, God begins to teach us how to love them.
Perhaps, like the grinch, if we allow the Holy Spirit to fill us up – our small heart will grow three sizes today.
If you missed series 50 Days to Love series, click her to listen to the podcast or watch the video.