Today marks the beginning of my annual summer vacation stretch where I take a little time off to enjoy my family. But, I don’t think that my heart or mind will be able to rest this week until I pour this post out on the altar, an offering to Christ from a simple West Texas mama.
The past several months in our country have been harrowing. We almost feel like it’s all a bad dream. The senseless killing. The anger. The hatred. I learned today that several countries have warned their citizens to reconsider travel plans to the U.S. This nation, which has always been a guiding light, a beacon of hope, is now being advertised as too dangerous to visit. Too dark. Too risky.
How did we get here?
Some say it’s the guns. As if guns have suddenly become more deadly than they’ve always been before. Guns have always been in American homes. They’ve always provided the power to protect or to kill. The guns haven’t grown more deadly. People have.
After all, what’s going on here is so much bigger than weapons.
Everything about our culture says that human life is dispensable. A trillion dollar pornography industry teaches children and adults every single day that people are nothing more than objects to be used. The human trafficking related to that disgusting trade means that mothers are afraid to walk into a dollar store with their children, knowing that there could be someone lurking nearby who is waiting for an opportunity to take their babies away, sold to the highest bidder, girls with real souls and bright minds and big hearts, reduced to nothing more than a one-dimensional commodity. In that world they exist only to be abused and harmed in every possible way, while the good men and women of the world watch it from the comfort of their own homes.
I sat here at my kitchen table a few days ago when the surveillance video of a deli in California came across my Facebook newsfeed. A young mama walked in, holding her baby, with her four year old daughter at her side. I could see the mother standing there, reading the menu, trying to decide what she and her daughters would have for lunch. Her four year old looked like she was chattering away, as happy four year olds will do, standing about three feet from her mother, when suddenly I saw someone reach in from the street and grab the preschooler, yanking her out the door in under a second. My heart pounded as I saw the mother turn and run out the door, too, still holding tight to the baby on her hip. Then, a moment later, she came back through the door with both of her girls, collapsing into a chair, hugging and kissing her four year old and crying tears of terror and rage.
The internet was so frightened and outraged by the attempted kidnapping. Such a horrific thing. Yet, if she had been four years younger, that same little girl, the one with the unique DNA, with the specially-designed soul, that little girl with a heart that was set to its beat by the God of the universe, could have been easily and proudly killed. Disposed of. Because this is what a human child looks like to us–chattel. Nothing more than a means to an end. Nothing more than a possession to be stolen, broken, or tossed out when it gets tiresome.
And, that’s really the heart of the out of control racial issues in our country. When a black man and a police officer are both seen as one-dimensional objects, no heart, no value, no humanity. When we see each other as cardboard cutouts, just vague representations of some idea we don’t like. It’s hard to remember that each person on this planet is a unique creation, made in the image of Almighty God, when we are constantly proving to ourselves that people are nothing special by what we say, how we behave, what we watch, what spend our money on, where we go, and what we teach our children.
We have taken hands that were once folded in prayer, and we have pushed God out of our society with all of the human force we can muster. We have told Him again and again that He isn’t needed. That He isn’t wanted. That His word is useless. That His creation is accidental. We have said He doesn’t belong in our schools or our courthouses or our public squares. We have said that even His churches need to be punished. That families who believe in Him should be regulated.
And, with every step that we have taken away from Him, we have invited a little more darkness in.
A little more tendency to turn to depraved thoughts and ideas. A little more apt to treat human beings like they’re worthless. A little more bold in our hateful talk. A little more likely to hurt and abuse and maim and kill. Every day, a little more bad. A little more of our ugly, wretched selves showing through.
Sinfulness that was once more often restrained is suddenly rampant. But, let’s be honest about it. Let’s call this what it is. We are getting what we said we wanted. We wanted God to back off.
And, sometimes God gives you what you ask for.
Pray for us. Pray for this nation. Pray for your very soul. Beg God to draw near. And, watch Him do what no human think tank or political party of lawmaker or preacher could ever do. Watch Him change the course of our history forever.
Come near to God and He will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom.
Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. James 4:8-10