The world is on fire and I am standing by with a solo cup of water… 4 kids in tow. How do I make a dent when crisis seem to be going on all around me? How do I wrestle with all the information I get daily about just how bad the world is and still keep moving? I want to stop and read every story. I want to copy our visa on every organizations donate button. I want to participate in the conversation but feel educated enough to do so. However if I do, then I am drowning under the weight of all I know with no real direction of what I can do.
One of the tricky parts is that everyone has an opinion about why their side is right and the other is wrong. Whether it’s politically, medically, or even spiritually the battle lines have been set. It’s exhausting just to walk through every day life with the pelting of information and hope we don’t accidentally cross a battle line you didn’t existed. The scary part is what are we missing because there is so much noise? What are the stories that must get told? What questions are we not asking because we are constantly drinking from the metaphorical fire hose that is social media. What are we missing in the mass of information?
There is gruesome news coming from all corners of the world from Afghanistan to Ukraine, to a gut wrenching podcast about the realities of North Korea (Joe rogans podcast… proceed with caution). Then there is the fact that our country is changing, it doesn’t feel like the place I grew up in so few years ago. It doesn’t feel like the place I dreamed it would be for our kids and I let out a shudder when I consider the wolves that are waiting on the other side of our safe suburban home.
Then…. I remember. This was never meant to be the destination, earth is a pit stop on the way. It’s the opening act before the main event. I don’t have all the answers but I do have hope. Even if at this current moment when I feel utterly hopeless, I know that is not true. I know that what I see around me is appalling and painful but I really believe there is God who loved the whole wide world enough to make this world like a rest stop on the way to Disney world.
Claire and colbie were asking me about heaven in the car on Saturday, very clearly (which is surprising if you know colbie) Colbie asked “mom is heaven where I go if I get covid.” My heart broke that my little five year old must have considered this thing could kill her. Why wouldn’t she enough adults have talked about?? This then leads into a great conversation about heaven and my girls both knowing in full detail why they needed heaven. We talked about if stuffed animals would be in heaven… would dogs be in heaven (geez I hope I got that one right).. and if all the toy stores were free. I told them that all the hard, hurtful, tear filled things they have experienced in their little lives would never happen in heaven. Heaven is where we would be united with God, which is what we are all chasing, whether we know it or not.
I have been hit with the cold hard truth recently that its hard not to picture earth as paradise until it stops being paradise. As the pandemic comes to a close I am realizing it ripped away my illusions that this world can leave me full. We have all been forcibly removed from the things we put over our hearts desire for God, like bandaids over a bullet wound. I think we realized when the plans stopped, the Netflix specials were over, and togetherness took on new meaning that we really were just us… and we were searching (and no amount of homemade bread attempts would fix this).
This year plus has been a giant invitation from our Savior to lean his way and find what we have been looking for. He is awaiting the day when our world is no longer broken and the painful truths are met with his glorious grace.
Over 2021 Ben and I read the Bible in a year and perhaps my greatest realization has been that none of the scary stuff that feels so new to me is new. Corrupt power, war, and mistreatment of people has been around far before Jesus and will continue until he comes back. One of my favorite readings was on Esther and how she took a giant risk to save her people. While she didn’t know if it had what it took her uncle encouraged her and the verse I love reads like this “maybe you were placed in the palace for such a time as this.” (Esther 4:14)
The whole bible is full of “such a time as this” men and women placed in moments of history that feel utterly hopeless to remind people of hope. All of us are facing our “such a time as this” when the world is divided, ripped at the seams, and hurting. What will we, as people who know and love Jesus, do? Will we fall towards cynicism and hope it all goes away? Will we become another angry customer shaking our fists at the world? OR Will we continue to fight in whatever way we can to see justice for the oppressed and the marginalized taken care of? Will we stamp our short life here with the seal of hope that God has given to us? Will we know that we are living for such a time as this and seek after God to determine what we can do in the here and now?
My real struggle has been in the action piece of all the news we have received, what can I do??? As a stay at home mom of 4 the UN is hardly knocking on my door for an opinion piece (HA!) but as a mom of 4 I can impact the generations starting in my home. I did the math and if I go back to my great grandparents (my namesake) I can think of 27 people who know Jesus because of the life they lived (and thats just family). This isn’t a guarantee but you better believe I’m gonna do my best. We belittle the impact on the people we love most when in reality the latest study showed parents were responsible for over 90% of their Childs influence (all the way until 18) thats staggering! That means if you have kids you have a thumbprint on the next generation. You have influence! Wield it to make a difference. The temptation is to numb out and feel like theres nothing that you can do. We can all do something, figure out what it is for you or your family, friends, neighbors, or colleagues and go do it. For such a time as this friends, we are here in the palace, what will we do?
Janice Wood - Thank you for sharing your heart and soul. We are all similar if we just admit it. You are a gifted writer.
I am a friend of Clara and family from Beech Creek, Ky. Clara and my mom were the best of friends and they went to college together. Such a wonderful family and sweet memories. We also attended the same church.
Keep up the great writing. God bless you.