Did that get your attention? 🙂
When I read the Bible and pray, I listen; I ask God what he and I are doing today; I listen some more; I write my thoughts in my journal; I pray for 40 or 50 people specifically most days. I make decisions to do this or that, based on what I believe I heard God say. I have certain prayers that I prayer repeatedly: The Lord’s prayer; Numbers 6:24-26; Psalm 23, Psalm 51, Psalm 90, Psalm 139, the Apostles’ & Nicene Creeds, prayers from the Apostle Paul’s letters, the Serenity Prayer, the morning prayer of one of my spiritual fathers John Stott and a few others.
In God’s presence, I feel peace. I feel safe. I feel loved.
At some point early each morning, I then read the news, usually the New York Times online. I normally read the main stories, certain columnists, depending on who is writing, and the obituaries, since the New York Times includes obituaries of notable people from around the globe. The Times also has excellent video blogs that are 2-4 minutes in length. Sometimes I watch one of these.
Just this morning, for example, there are major stories of the tremendous upheaval in Egypt. I read several stories about this. I thought of my readings earlier from the books of Hebrews and Romans and I Corinthians.
There were many killings today in skirmishes in Cairo between the Egyptian military, apparently in charge, at least trying to be, now that President Morsi has been deposed. Followers of the Muslim Brotherhood, who backed Morsi, are protesting, full of anger. … It’s a real mess and makes me so sad.
On the front page of the Times, there is a photo of several young men carrying off another young man — who looks 22 or 23 — who has been badly wounded. His white shirt is soaked with blood. The photo is graphic. The young man looks to be in bad shape. The young men carrying his wounded body look terrified.
I looked at the photo of the young man. I thought of his mother and father and his siblings and tried to imagine what they are now thinking. Will they being going to a Cairo hospital or morgue to identify his lifeless body? What must they be feeling? I tried to imagine.
I then thought of the Scriptures I had read earlier and of the prayers I had prayed, for my family, my friends, my church and for a dear friend and his young family who are doing Kingdom work in Egypt. They live in Cairo. This family is back in the United States for a few weeks this summer. “Father,” I prayed, “What do you want them to do now? Return? Stay here? O God, they need wisdom. Egypt needs your mercy and your loving kindness. These are such beautiful people, Lord. Don’t forsake them.” …
Here’s the point I am making… When we read the Bible and pray and tell God that we want to be part of what he is doing, we never pretend. Never! We are on enemy territory and to deny that is just sheer ignorance.
True, we have been rescued from the dominion of darkness and brought into the kingdom of the Son of God, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. But we never pretend that this world is our final home. It is not.
So please, allow yourself to feel the pain of this world. It is part and parcel of working in God’s Kingdom. The Spirit of God lives inside you if you are a Jesus follower. Holy Spirit gives you peace that passes your understanding. How grateful I am for that. With that gratitude I can rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn. I must. You must as well.
I am not pretending this morning. In this world there is much trouble. I am not denying it in the least. And yet, I feel the love, joy and peace of Jesus. “Jesus loves me this I know… .” For He has overcome the world.