Friday, November 11, 2016

Complexity (by Lisa VanderMaas)

It has been a truly mundane and yet monumental day. I wake up to new alerts and Facebook posts of grief, shock, exaltation, and confusion. I have no answers for the day, no quick fixes to the problems our world faces; no answers that is except for Jesus. I hear on the radio that voters of a certain party think one thing and the others think another. Is it really that easy? It doesn’t seem to be from where I sit. Perhaps it is the path we have chosen to walk, non-partisan when it comes to the world, yet one that hopefully reflects the Savior. For my own sanity I reflect: Yesterday. Election day:

I begin the day on my knees praying while I scrub toilets at my housecleaning job (yes, even for college educated white women, making it in America involves sacrifice, humility, and hard work) asking for wisdom, true Godly wisdom, to know how to vote and feeling conflicted in my soul over it. I also spend time talking with the people living under that roof. They are of different generations and perspectives, they have deeply divided opinions on the issues and candidates.

I then talk with my African American son who needs help getting to work while telling us he wants to start making better choices and using the opportunities he has been afforded. My other African American son is too busy working to vote. I think of the times both of these precious boys have been profiled and threatened and yet now have to make their way in the world as young black men, making choices and living with the consequences of those choices.

I grade my home schoolers Latin and Algebra and am thankful for the freedoms to educate as we choose. At the same time I field calls from a public school who would like me to substitute teach. Being in the classroom there makes me anxious for the kids and their learning environment. Teachers express very strong opinions over the type of government they need in order to be effective teachers. For many of the kids, home lives are not strong. Hurt is evident.

At 2:00, I decide to go vote. As I head out the door, I pray, apologize to my kids if I am making a mistake, and then remind them that God is always on the throne. I stand in a church lobby under the “Open and Affirming” sign and wait to cast my vote. I drive down streets gloriously adorned with fall foliage and hope my grandchildren and great grandchildren see and value the beauty of God’s creation.

I drive to a wonderful charter academy to pick up our refugee foster daughter who has never had an education in her life. She stands outside the gleaming building in her uniform and tells me as she does every day that school was “Good”. She loves it and loves to learn. The school has gone out of their way to enfold her.

I then drive her over to Bethany Christian Services, a place where you walk in the lobby and feel like you are in the United Nations with many languages being spoken. It has always been a ministry that values life, adoption, and the dignity of women and children. Our foster daughter will spend time here working through traumas that she has experienced that few Americans can comprehend.

Later in the day, the older of my African American daughters, dressed in her professional clothes, shows me her certificate for perfect attendance for the program she is enrolled in. I am proud of her and the commitments she has made to working hard and overcoming struggles.

Dinner is ready (I am only 6 months late for one of our daughter’s B-Day meals)! We sit around the dinner table and I look into the eyes of my children and I think of people who believe that these lives were disposable. That they were not a life in utero and given their birth history certainly born into circumstances that would have justified abortion. My heart physically hurts to think of this.

We Snapchat with our white son in college who just got a haircut (hooray) probably realizing that he should look semi-professional as he needs a job to pay of hefty school debt starting next summer.

I check Facebook and see our friend from Haiti who lived with us for a year and a half, now living illegally in New York (against our advice) and hoping to become a citizen, watching the election so closely. I think of the 10 yr. old Muslim boy that has spent four weeks with us this summer, who hasn’t seen his mom in 5 years, and is terrified of this election.

I go to a meeting where there are many Christians, none excited about either candidate but praying with humility for God to give us wisdom as a nation. All acknowledging the flawed nature of each candidate.

It’s 10 o’clock, I have a decision to make: watch election results or finish my Bible study of I Peter for our church’s women’s group. I opt for the second and am glad I did, although it doesn’t give easy answers either. Peter, living under the rule of Nero no less, calls the church to expect suffering, submit to all others (including our rulers) in humility, and to expect to be treated as outcasts in the world. He also gave promises of life, wisdom, joy, and freedom that come ONLY from life lived under the Lordship of Jesus Christ and with the counsel of the Holy Spirit.

My mind wanders to a few days ago, Andrew and I watched a tiny white coffin be laid in the earth. We grieved with these friends whose hearts were breaking. As we walked hand in hand through the cemetery, we said, “You know one of these days, it will be my funeral or yours.” We will take no earthly treasures with us, but we will also then begin to live in a perfect Kingdom where we will have a perfect Ruler for all ages.

So much complexity. No easy answers. But I ask myself, “Am I spending my time offering this “perfect kingdom, perfect ruler” hope to the world that desperately needs it? Or am I adding to their fear and despair? I can’t even begin to answer all the questions that confront me each day. I feel convicted over the weight of the decisions our rulers must make. For my fellow followers of Jesus and for me, I wonder, are we living lives that truly reflect the footsteps of our suffering, submitted, and outcast Lord? Daily submitted faithfulness in the ordinary places of life, and our prayers, these are what our hurting world needs more than anything else we can offer. There are no easy answers in this world... but there is one sufficient answer: Jesus.

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