Friday, November 28, 2008

The Day After, And I'm Still Thankful

It is incredible that an entire nation would set aside a day to "give thanks." A thought that has stuck in my mind lately is the idea that if we approach life from a perspective of victory rather than defeat, what a difference it would make. I first encountered this thought when someone framed the recent election and its effect on racism with that idea. He said that if we compare it to Joshua and the Israelites, even when they occupied the land promised by God, they'd experienced the victory, but it did not mean that hardship was over and more work needed to be done. We've elected a president of African descent, racism isn't over and done, but we approach it now from the other side.

Jesus said that in this world we will have trouble, but take heart, I have overcome this world. That is what I am thankful for. And with a thankful heart, we are freed from trying to win the game and commissioned to play with dignity and honor. Imagine a football team leading 49-0 in the fourth quarter. They still play to win, but they play now for the fun of the game. A classy team will begin to bring out the best in their opponent, but imagine the coach of this team getting called for unsportsmanlike conduct for arguing a close call. What kind of jerk would do that while winning by 7 touchdowns.

I'm thankful that our victory is won and that I can be freed to play just for the joy of life. It would be unsportsmanlike to just sit back and let things happen as they may, but I don't have to get caught up in the little frustrations the world sets in my path. I can simply take them and move on, all the while trying to bring out the best in those who oppose me.

Truly understanding thankfulness gives us the perspective to live life from the vantage point of victors. Respectful and honoring, but victors nonetheless, inviting all to join in this joy.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

UnAfraid-The Election Edition

So part one of my thoughts on being Untangled deals with fear. Mainly, I think of fear as entangling for me because fear usually freezes me in my tracks. When I get afraid in life, I usually just stop. No going forward, no going backward. But lately, I've been focusing on fear in a different way. First, let me say, that my four year goal is that by the next presidential election I want to cast a vote that is an informed decision voicing my preference for the next leader of our nation. I would like to think that will be true this year, but like many Americans, I have allowed myself to become too emotionally involved in this race. I had hoped that by reading Shane Claiborne's "Jesus for President" that I would temper my political feelings, but alas, it did not. I remember 1992, my first presidential contest; several of my friends and I took pride in slogans like "don't blame me, I voted for..." and we even threw around the false threat of moving out of the country because of the election. Eight years later, I must say, my life continued much as it had for the previous 20. And the next eight years brought a change of administration and again, my life stayed much the same. My political sway has changed over the years, but why should I now fear that the next four or eight will be any different. Paul reminds us that we are not of this world, and Jesus had a pretty effective ministry under the rule of a government much more oppressive and brutal than ours. If Paul's words can be so filled with hope, while often writing from the cell of a jail, then how much more should ours be filled with hope in our time. This lack of hope and burning fear leads us to label a young visionary a terrorist and to hang an effigy of a public servant who has put herself out as a candidate for service to her fellow citizens. I will cast my vote, but I will cast it in hope that regardless of who holds the name President for the next four years, that my allegiance will be pledged to "Thy Kingdom Come". No more fear, because in this world we will have trouble, but take heart, this world IS overcome by He who knows not the difference in liberal and conservative.