I feel like God puts books, podcasts, sermons, information in front of you when he wants you to see it. When he is ready for you to learn about a new subject and take action on it for the kingdom. So often I will come along the book that he wants me to read at the specific moment. There have been times when I have felt so ugly, so broken, so far from his reach and he has used a book to infuse grace back into my weary soul. Of course, his word is the most powerful, but I also truly believe he uses godly men and women to preach his message. So thankful for the countless number of writers who have transformed my life by sharing their story.
Lately, God is wrecking me with the issue of racial reconciliation. He has been for some time, but I feel like he is now saying it’s go time. Time to educate, to listen, to understand, to experience, to teach, to love freely. I have been reading Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson. My social media has been raging over the incredibleness of this book for some time and I am so excited to have finally gotten on the bandwagon. The book is eye opening and gripping. A MUST READ!! I have also listened to Michelle Higgins speech at Urbana, Opel Tometi from #blacklivesmatter on Rob Bell and Q ideas. I am being transformed as I am understanding the issue of poverty, mass incarceration and injustice in the African American community.
I am not new to this issue, it has always been huge on my heart as I raise my African boys. As we live as a blended family. We have had our fair share of haters, of naysayers over the color of our boys’ skin. So dumb. So ignorant. But even still, it is nothing compared to what my African American brothers and sisters have endured for years and years. My heart aches over the injustice of it all. The time is now. We cannot ignore this anymore. It is time to stand up and fight. To read the books, to listen and to join. We have to gain knowledge so we can be passionate about change. If you don’t know about it, you aren’t equipped to fight for it. It’s like poverty, malnutrition and living conditions in Africa. If you don’t know that their are children dying daily in Africa, you likely won’t do anything about it. Once you know, you can’t say no. You can’t sit back and say that’s ok, we’ll just them die. You have to engage and be a part of the solution. It’s the heart cry of Jesus. “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”
I have been studying the kingdom. Reading through the gospels, trying to identify FOR MYSELF what the kingdom truly looks like. The one thing that I kept seeing repeated over and over were these words, so the last will be first and the first will be last. I have wrestled with it, asking God what it means. I can read the commentaries, I can see what every other bible scholar says it means. But I wanted to know what God would reveal to ME about it. As I sat in church last Sunday, I felt like he was speaking to me about those on the margins, the ones we pay attention to the least. The widowed woman in Africa who is struggling to survive, the drug dealer who knows no other way of life, the prisoner who is desperately seeking God’s grace, the single mom working her butt off to provide for her family, the teenager who wears baggy pants and raps and just wants to be loved for who he is, the refugee who longs for stability and a home. These are the ones who will be first. These are the ones who should be first. These are the ones who should be leading us, teaching us, telling their stories. These are the ones who are so so precious to God that he puts them first. Yes, he loves me,and my white middle class comfortable life, but he calls me to have eyes to see who his beloved are. To understand this backwards kingdom. The story goes that the workers all received the same pay even though some of them only worked half as many hours. (Matthew 20:1-16). God says this is his generosity. His incredible goodness shown to all men. “God never intended for one group of people to live in superfluous inordinate wealth, while others live in abject deadening poverty.” -MLK Sometimes God’s whispers to me are that those who were treated the worst, the forgotten, they will be first in his kingdom. They will experience incredible glory. And I can’t wait to see that day. It can happen now, if we take a stand. If we love freely and give generously to all people.
I heard my son singing these words the other day, “there’s so much strength in you and me, powerful, a breath away from victory, I matter, you matter, we matter all.” My heart swelled. This is what I want my kids to know, to believe. I want words like, ” I see a colorful future where skin don’t define any human” to fill their soul. My sweet sweet kids don’t know the tragic stories that are happening in our world right now. They are so innocent, they don’t see differences, just people. I long to stand for justice in everything I do and for my kids to be raised watching that. I long for them to see it in the world, in the church. People taking a stand, meeting needs, loving well. They are the next generation and I want them to live well in a world where skin don’t define any human. I long for them to live in a world where EVERY person is celebrated.
I won’t close my eyes to the realities of the world today. I won’t live arrogant, overfed and unconcerned and turn away from the poor and needy. (Ezekiel 16:49-50) I will speak up, speak life. On this Martin Luther King day I will read my kids his story, I will talk to them about justice. I will read the scriptures that so clearly outline justice and mercy. I will live the words of MLK, “And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must do it because conscience tells him it is right.”
Because we are all powerful and just a breath away from victory.
Song lyrics from Powerful by Jussie Smollett and Alicia Keys