And all the trees of the field shall know that I am the LORD; I bring low the high tree, and make high the low tree, dry up the green tree, and make the dry tree flourish. I am the LORD; I have spoken, and I will do it. -- Ezekiel 17:24
Wednesday, February 11, 2015
I Have One Job
Despite the advances in information technology and data dissemination, we do not know everything that is going on in the world. Certain catastrophes and cataclysmic occurrences bubble up into our awareness, but history, we might say, is happening all around us every moment. It’s like individual human consciousness, just because we are not aware, every second, of our heart beating doesn’t mean it is not a critical thing.
Perhaps we could think of human history as analogous to individual memory. We don’t have memories of things of which we were never conscious in the first place. Or, do we? They aren’t memories because we can’t remember them; we can’t recall or articulate them. Nevertheless, there are things in our bones, in our guts, in our taste and tendencies and preferences, and in our dreams that we cannot explain. As far as we know, it goes to our genetic heritage, and some of it probably does. We were born this way, but we also learned things, came to know things, experienced things that remain always obscured and hidden below the surface.
We have become who we are not solely by the things that we note and contemplate in our forebrains. So, too, with history, it is not the treachery of kings and prime ministers that drive the fall of the kingdom. Ezekiel 17 is a parable about Judah being subjected to the rule of Babylon then secretly aligning with Nebuchadnezzar’s enemy, Egypt. The consequence would be destruction. Out of that, however, the Lord would replant a Branch: On the mountain height of Israel will I plant it, that it may bear branches and produce fruit and become a noble cedar. And under it will dwell every kind of bird; in the shade of its branches birds of every sort will nest (v.23). This is a prophecy of the Messiah who is to gather and shelter those from all nations.
God is not dealing with nations. He is not negotiating with the president or Congress about the fate of the United States. He is working with each one of us. Certainly, we may suffer together in aggregate because the majority of us vote for some stupidity, or because we as a nation have become wanton and degenerate. Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment (Romans 13:1-2). I don’t care much for our present government, but I recognize that we, as a whole, have brought it upon ourselves. When we stand before our Father, however, we will stand alone and answer alone.
History will record the names and deeds of our heralded and our honored, our heroes and our leaders. It is, though, the millions of us unknowns that shape the nature and character of those we elevate or who are elevated into the consciousness of history. They are the part of the iceberg that is seen and can be described. The nation that honors Audie Murphy or that can produce Alvin York is different from the nation that calls Kanye West a visionary or that glorifies the perverseness of Bill Clinton.
I cannot change the nature of a bunch of state-raised sheep by voting for the lesser of two evils – which won’t stop me from voting, but I should recognize the limits of what can be done. I need to live the life of Christ. I need to listen, to hear what God is saying to me to do today. I have people I can help, things I can change. I was reading somewhere a day or two ago about how the old Stoics have gotten something of an undeserved reputation. It comes down to accepting that we do have control over some things, and those things we ought to do everything possible to control. But we also have to accept that there are other things – a whole bunch of other things and especially other people – that we can do absolutely nothing about. Those things, there is not only no point in worrying about, it’s counterproductive. Myself, my reactions, my attitudes, behavior, virtues, etc., I can deal with that. I can do something about those things. That’s what I should work on.