100 years later

I’ve heard enough people in my circles say we live in a post-racial world. And I just want to give a little perspective. Why? Because when we say things like that today, people get hurt. It angers them, and for good reason. People made in the image of God… our brothers and sisters.

Not discounting the certain fact that progress in many areas has been made, we ought not think we’ve finished the race. I love how Deidra Riggs put it earlier today: “…if we were all running a marathon together (and we are) we wouldn’t stop at the one mile marker, look back toward the starting line and say, ‘Wow! Look at how much progress we’ve made! We’ve come so far! Let’s go do something else now.'”

For me, these 2 images when placed together are quite profound.

The first one is from July 2, 1917: a peaceful march in New York City, following a horrific event of injustice in St. Louis earlier that week that should never be forgotten. I unpacked that event more here.
silent-march-nyc-1917

The other one is from about an hour ago – June 16, 2017, nearly 100 years later. Another peaceful march, this time in Minnesota, following the announcement of the verdict in Officer Yanez’ trial. I didn’t sit on the jury, and I can’t know all the intricacies that went into the reaching of that verdict. But we all saw the Facebook live video. And given the (enormous) track record of oppression from law-enforcement on people of color, the smell of bs here is strong.
Screen Shot 2017-06-16 at 10.28.06 PM

My heart aches for everyone directly involved (including Officer Yanez), and my heart aches for the millions of people who feel the pain of this moment from afar – pain that in many ways I will never be able to feel. I believe we need to pray for those in law enforcement like never before, and I believe we need to pray for minorities just as much.

Can we stand with one without hating the other? I believe we can.

But in the process, may the Lord help us never ever stop asking these gut-wrenching “Why” questions until the stubborn stench of injustice is burnt out of our nostrils for good.

Some times God rescues you from the mouths of lions. Some times he lets you be beheaded.

In our home, from time to time we like to tell Bible stories to our kids before bed. It doesn’t happen all the time, and there’s definitely A LOT of nights we’re just doing whatever we can to get them in bed. However, if the story is right, we occasionally try to act it out together, be goofy and fun, and still communicate a point the kids can walk out when they wake up in the morning.

Tonight, we told them the story of the time Saul took a dump in the cave. David, his enemy, was already hiding in the cave unbeknownst to Saul, and he could have evened the score in that (awkward) moment. Such a good story…

And it made me think.

There’s a lot of stories we like to tell (like this one) – ones that have a happy ending, ones that always work out the way we expect them to.

And then there are other stories that we don’t tell as often. Not intentionally I don’t think. They just don’t come to mind much because we haven’t thought much about them. They’re uncomfortable. They don’t end anywhere close to the ways we think they should. Even more¬†disconcerting, they push the boundaries of the God we thought we knew. Frankly, some of them push God right off the page.

For instance, we love to tell the story of how God rescued Daniel from the mouths of the lions. But we skip the story of how God allowed John to be beheaded.

Both individuals were faithful, humble, selfless people. They had morals, and stood up for truth. They lived with an internal conviction we all deeply long to have. And as far as we can see, their character was one we all want to emulate.

For the one, he was granted life when death was pretty much a guarantee. The other was granted death when life was a hope still on the horizon.

If you’re bumping into stories and shades of God that don’t seem like¬†God, maybe it’s time to take a closer look, instead of skipping over those narratives. It’s ok to have your categories questioned. It’s ok to doubt the God you thought you knew. We can’t let our understanding of God up until this point in life define who God is for us for the rest of our lives. It’s a journey of understanding that will continue to grow and develop and be shaped over time. And that’s ok.

I believe God is calling his followers to a deeper faith, a solid trust in a God who exists outside the confines we grew up thinking he lived within. A God that doesn’t always make sense. A God that often leaves us with more questions than solutions.

And it’s ok to read those stories and wonder how they all fit together.

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