Friday, April 10, 2015

"That's the Brakes Son"

These words ended the conversation during my childhood. I would be complaining about some perceived injustice that had invaded my universe, and Dad would look me squarely in the eyes and he'd deliver that line. 
May, 1974. I was 9 months old. Our first family portrait.
Tom & Krena Shepherd, and a very happy Chad P. Shepherd
As the Principal of a pre-k through senior school, I listen to many students expressing dissatisfaction with the inconsistencies of their world. But that really isn't limited to students is it? We all face these sorts of limitations. So many times these words of my father echo through my head as I smile with perspective. 

Sometimes that's just how the world is. Sure, there are times that we can rage against the darkness. There are times when we are meant to be the one who stands and makes a difference. Those times are easy for me. I can stand up when everyone else is laying down. But... do you know what is really hard? It's accepting what cannot be changed... and still holding on to your identity. Those are the brakes. Sometimes, we simply must stop.

These times, they are a changing. There was a day when things had not yet been decided. I am a patriotic citizen of the United States of America. I am a believer and defender of the Bill of Rights. I believe that homosexuality is one of many sins listed in the Bible. I'm not going to let anyone dictate to me my actions. And still... I shouldn't allow my reactions to be influenced by external factors. I still find my identity as a child of God. I must exhibit the fruit of the Spirit. 

I must extend trust when I know I'll be betrayed. I must extend love when I know I'll be hated. I must give grace where only judgment is due. And yes, it is still ok for me to also be judgmental. God gives me trust and love and grace and judgment every day. I think He notices how I give each of those things to others, and so I know I have to be wise.

It's His wisdom I have to lean on after all... in this world that is changing and that I cannot control. Time are changing. We are seeing the fall of thousands of years of Western Civilization. We are seeing religions clash, freedoms collide, and nations rage. I know that in many ways, this age is ending. A new one is being born.

It is not one that I would design, and yet it is not one that I can prevent. I believe that I am a citizen of a nation that has turned her eyes away from God, and like the covenant people of Israel of long ago... when our eyes wander off of God, we are no longer covered by His promises. 

And so we are heading into a time of trouble. I don't think an election can stop it. I think we are coming into a time of trial and approaching darkness. And I have come to understand that I am content with that. 

I think of Israel captive in Babylon. God's faithful were there. They were the witnesses and participants of miracles. I want that. I want to stand true to my God in the face of change. I am beginning to understand that I am not created in this time to stand defiantly against the coming change.

I am created by God to stand faithfully to Him during this time of change. 

Recognizing the difference is an empowering perspective. I do not fear the coming days. YHWY is still God. I do not believe the events of the time are His will. But YHWY is still God. God always has a remnant of faithful. I see that as my place. We are entering a time of trial... and we are entering a time of glory.

The power of God is poured out in times of hardship. I will keep my eyes turned to Him. 

I think of Paul in prison. One night at midnight, the chains fell off and he walked free. Still... there was another time that he was bound in prison, and over 700 midnights passed him by with the chains still cutting into his skin. 

His identity was intact both times. Whether God set him free, or God was content to leave him in chains. Paul wrote his great letter of Joy to Phillipi during those 700 nights of silence. Praise be to God... if two years of bondage is what is required for me to see joy, then let the bondage come.

That's the breaks son. Yes. Let the dark days come. I accept them. I know who I am. I know God's church. My identity is not bound by the blindness of a nation. Society is changing, but my God is constant.

"I know whom I am believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I've committed unto Him against that day." - Daniel W. Whittle; 1 Tim 1:12

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