Recent political and social interactions have me thinking: God help me if I ever ran for president and all my ugly came out. Our leadership is vetted such that they are fit to run for office, but that doesn’t mean they haven’t committed personal indiscretions. Probably some they deeply regret. Who among us hasn’t?
We (self-included) are so quick to judge, are we not? I remember from my early Psych 101 days learning that human beings tend to view things in this light: when something bad happens to someone else, we attribute the events to their personal shortcomings and character flaws; when something bad happens to us however, it is a result of our unfortunate circumstances – something done to us. We are ego-centric things by nature. It takes much brain – and heart – power to think any other way.
But what if we did?
God, you alone are Sovereign.
You alone number the days of every man and orchestrate his path.
You know his thoughts. You know his inner workings.
You know his most secret motives, longings and short-comings.
God, you set up governments and leaders.
You work Your plan out through both the righteous and the unrighteous
for Your Name’s sake.
God, You give us both a voice to speak and ears to hear.
More than that, You give us a mind to gain wisdom and understanding
and a heart to beat with compassion.
Lord, be with our leaders and give them wisdom as they lead.
Wisdom as only You can – to seek not to be right, but to be righteous.
help us to remember that as well, God.
Lord, be with us and give us patience and grace
mercy and forgiveness.
Help us to remember that You call each one of us to different stations in life –
each with its own responsibility and accountability.
Help us to remember that we will all stand before You.
We will all give an account for every action. Every word. Every deed.
Help us to remember that we all fall short – Every day. And in every way.
Help us to be merciful to our co-laborers on planet earth
and remember that their calling is different from ours
but that we, each one of us, desire to be supported and validated in that calling.
Help us to pray for one another, God, and not to wish each other harm but only good things.
Heal those places that need healing.
Strengthen those places that need strengthening.
Humble those places that need humbling.
More than anything, be with us, Lord.
Guide us in Your way.
Help us each to be the people you have called us to be.
but also nothing less.
17 And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” 20 And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” 21 And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
Matthew 19: 17-22
As best we can tell, the “rich young ruler” (as he is known in Scripture) seemed to be a pretty good guy. He’d never killed anyone. He respected marriage vows. He didn’t steal. He was honest. He was respectful to mom and dad. Yet, something in him must have remained unsettled – to know that he was keeping the Commandments and still feel the need to ask this respected Rabbi Jesus what else he must do to have eternal life.
He knew that his “good enough” was not quite good enough.
Today marks the start of a new year. Not only a fresh monthly turn of the page but a whole brand-spankin’-new calendar! Many of us wake up today with fresh vows too – grateful to symbolically put the past behind us and start anew. This year, I will… This year, I will not… But if we’re like 92% of the fellow humans that we share planet earth with, we will fall far short of those goals – many within weeks. It’s just too daunting. We want perfection. 10/10. A+. Top of the class. We don’t cut ourselves slack. We don’t allow for the inevitable “human being factor” that is selfish and prideful and wants what it wants when it wants it.
Thanks for the pep talk, Michelle. Way to kick off 2017. Encouraging others must be your spiritual gift (insert sarcasm).
Life is hard. It just plain is. Regardless of financial or social status. Regardless of support system or lack thereof. Even regardless of faith and hope for the future. The fact is that we live in a world with imperfect people who make imperfect choices who don’t always (or even often?) consider how their actions or reactions affect or impact other people.
Jesus knew that this was so. In fact, He promised that it would be so. He said, “…In this world, you will have trouble. But…” – are you ready for the good news?!- He also said, “…take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)