Today’s Word from Karl Olsen…
“God has said, I will never leave you or forsake you.”
OK. I’m holding on to that. Looking around our church, island, region and world these days… it’s something I have to remember often. A little rambling…
I live a pretty fortunate and privileged life. Wonderful family, great church and place to work, good friends, and (as Pastor Jim reminds us) “age-appropriate” mostly good health. And… no one is aiming projectiles at my house, pulling me over for the color of my skin, telling me I only have a short time to live, or holding family members hostage in some faraway place. So, yeah, pretty fortunate.
And yet, there are those days when the—you know—the “stuff” in your life seems overwhelming, when tomorrow seems like it will never come, and when it does, doesn’t seem like much of an improvement. We all have those times, I think. So, it’s good to remember some passages like the one from Hebrews above. Or…
“I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you.”
Joshua 1:5…. or…
“I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Death can’t, and life can’t. The angels won’t, and all the powers of hell itself cannot keep God’s love away. Our fears for today, our worries about tomorrow, or where we are — high above the sky, or in the deepest ocean — nothing will ever be able to separate us from the love of God…”
Romans 8:38-39 TLB
Good words. And, still, I believe in taking action when something needs addressing. Anything from recycling to voting to noisily protesting against injustices. Martin Luther said that “faith is a living, creative, active and powerful thing.”
Speaking about racial bigotry, Jim Wallis called us to action when he said: “Churches are good at pulling bodies out of the river. But at some point, someone needs to go upriver and see who keeps throwing them in.” Sitting on the sidelines and doing nothing just isn’t an option for me. Everybody has their own way of being in “action,” some quieter than others. Acting in faith can move mountains, and sometimes stop wars.
Times come, however, when that faith is tested. Situations or people around you call that faith into question. And doubt arises… and that’s ok, too. Leaning on musicians, as I do, here’s a thought from recently-passed singer-songwriter Hugh Prestwood writing to a friend: “I, for all my faith, will never prove that there’s more than meets the eye, and you, for all your science, will never prove there’s not.”
So, we live in this continuous river of faith, doubt, question, action, silence, fear and hope. Another songwriter, Bob Dufford, quoted Isaiah when he sang “be not afraid, I go before you always.” For me, in those moments when it’s difficult to hope, challenging to believe, and hard to know which step to take next, I try to remember that it’s not all up to me. I can do what I can—even if sometimes that’s nothing—and hold on to that memory of hope, expressed in this song by Joel Pakan, “I Will Not Let You Go.” (Click HERE to listen to my version.) You can dream up verses that fit your situation, but hold on to that refrain. And the hope.
I can’t explain it. But it makes some days possible. And for that, I’m thankful.