It’s in the news, and plastered all over social media. Everywhere you turn, the focus is on race. With a few unfortunate exceptions, people want to be part of the solution, but what exactly does that mean?
I’ve read numerous articles outlining how I, as a person of western European (and Jewish) descent, am supposed to respond. Most stress writing my politicians, speaking out on social media, and perhaps joining a demonstration. To me, that means a lot of talk, but not much productive action. I don’t want to just talk about racism, I want to do something that makes an actual difference for those who deal with it on a sometimes daily basis. In that light, I’ve come up with a few suggestions.
May is one of our busiest months. Everything seems to happen at once. I love to go birding, and here in Colorado, May is the peak of spring migration. It’s also the month when my garden wakes up. I can’t wait to get my fingers back into the soil, sowing seeds outdoors, setting out started seedlings, and pulling the weeds that have been sleeping all winter. At the same time, work continues, bills must be paid, clothes still get dirty, and we still get hungry.
With our schedules full, Pete and I had been communicating in sound bites. “Heading to the store, need anything?” “Can you stop at the bank for me?” “Don’t forget, tonight is our small group meeting.” We hadn’t had a real conversation in weeks. We really needed some quality time. Happily, we’d scheduled just that—back in January.
What says Valentine’s Day better than a box of conversation hearts? I have happy childhood memories of opening my sack lunch and finding a box of candy with sayings such as “BE COOL,” “TRUE LOVE,” and of course, “I ♥ YOU.” My friends and I would share giggles over “MARRY ME” and “FIRST KISS,” and assumed that “PUPPY LOVE” affirmed our affinity for young dogs.
Ah, Christmas. We’ve looked forward to it all year. There’s a crackling fire in the fireplace while snow softly carpets the ground outside. Stockings are hung, presents are wrapped, cookies are baked. Carols play quietly in the background while the succulent turkey browns in the oven. Best of all, the family is gathered together, perhaps for the first time all year.
And everyone is staring at their smart phone.
Not quite the family moment you’d envisioned? I have the perfect solution. It costs under $20 (sometimes half that), requires no batteries, and is guaranteed to bring the family together around the table. No, It’s not the turkey. It’s a jigsaw puzzle.
Did I mention some assembly is required?
After a month of house guests, appointments, projects, meetings, errands, and working overtime, we finally had a day all to ourselves. An entire day. Just for us. No visitors. No interruptions. No obligations.
Once a month, my sweetie and I set aside a “date day” to spend time together. The only rule is that we can’t delete if off our calendar. It can be moved, if something important comes up, but sometime during each month we take a day for ourselves. Today was the day. I was eager to get reacquainted with this wonderful guy I’d married 33 years ago.
This is the conclusion of part 1 that I posted last week.
Now that I’ve laid out my case for God’s desiring a two-way conversation with us, rather than a monologue, it’s time for some hard questions. How do we go about achieving this ideal? How can we listen to God? How do we know it’s Him speaking?
God is the initiator of the relationship we have with Him. Immediately after Adam and Eve sinned, and hid from God, He came looking for them. Genesis 3, verse 9 is the beginning of a long dialog among Adam, Eve, and God: “But the Lord God called to the man, ‘Where are you?’” Even though Adam and Eve had sinned, God still wanted their company—and God still pursues us today.
I’m grateful that God wants to talk to me so much that He’ll go to great lengths to do so. Think how foolish Balaam must have felt, when God had to speak to him through his donkey! I certainly don’t want to take after Balaam. Since Jesus died to restore my relationship with God, I want to make it easy for Him! I want to open my ears and eagerly join the conversation.
Recently, I spent an entire day in prayer. A very close friend was having serious surgery, and I felt compelled to wait before God on her behalf. Not so many years ago, I would have been unable to maintain an attitude of prayer for anywhere close to an hour, much less a day. While I would have had the same good intentions, I just couldn’t think of that much to say to God. Then I realized that prayer is a two-way conversation.
A few days later, I was discussing this with another friend:
Friend: I hate repeating myself in prayer. That’s why I don’t do as much of it as others. One reason, at any rate. I either find myself quickly addressing all the things on my heart and then ending the call, so to speak, or I keep digging and stretching and reaching for little things and obscure people to bring up, just to meet some bizarre prayer length quota.
Me: Try listening instead of talking; it’s very hard to have a one-way conversation with anyone.
Friend: I already feel like I’m talking to the ceiling. There’s never been much to hear. Sorry, but revelation is not for me.
Me: Sorry, I refuse to believe that. But listening is a learned skill, and you might need practice.
Does God, who must be awfully busy running the universe, actually talk to us? All of us? Or was this person right in assuming they just weren’t special enough to hear from God?