Tag Archives: world

run its course

runitscourse

I have a trait that my wife absolutely hates (man that’s a harsh way to start off a blog post). But it’s true. Although she loves me completely, she hates that I am an anti-panicker. What I mean by this, is that in situations in which she thinks I should be reacting quickly and highly stressed, I actually am taking my time and trying to think through every possible outcome and scenario…thus, an anti-panicker. Case in point: yesterday our 5-yr-old was on his 5th day of the flu and didn’t seem to be making any improvements whatsoever and we were getting worried. Also, thanks to the compiling voices and paranoia from social media we were getting even more worried, so we decided it might be good to take him back to the doctor/ER. As soon as my wife decided, that meant it was time to go and since she was sick herself, I needed to take him. But here I am thinking about all the other scenarios. What about the other kids? What about me being at school? Should I just wait a bit? You know…not panicking. Eventually she prevailed though and I ran him to the ER to find out that it was still just a terrible flu and that it needed to run its course (which is still never fun for a parent to hear, but I suppose is better than pneumonia).

Now when it comes to the state of the world around us, I guess I am a bit of an anti-panicker as well. Which drives others around me nuts. I have friends who are incensed about the political state of things. I have friends in the church constantly terrified about where things are going. I know people who think we have to have some sort of drastic resolution yesterday to heal the state of our planet. But I have a slightly different approach. At the conclusion of the Montgomery Bus Strikes, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. quoted 19th-century abolitionist and Unitarian minister Theodore Parker when he said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” I like to remind myself of this quote when it seems like everyone around me is falling into borderline hysteria. The arc, the whole, the entirety, the full story bends towards justice. Maybe after all, there is no need for panicking, but for allowing the moral universe to run its course.

Now I’d like to clarify something. Does anti-panicking mean we do nothing? By no means. I like to remember a quote from John Wesley on the matter of engaging the ills of the world, church, society, culture, etc. when it comes to this. “Do all the good you can, By all the means you can, In all the ways you can, In all the places you can, At all the times you can, To all the people you can, As long as ever you can.” In the gospel of Luke, Jesus said it in this way, “Instead, love your enemies, do good, and lend expecting nothing in return. If you do, you will have a great reward. You will be acting the way children of the Most High act, for he is kind to ungrateful and wicked people. Be compassionate just as your Father is compassionate.” – Luke‬ ‭6:27-28, 35-36 I don’t think panic and hysteria and unhinged anger ever accomplish what we wish they would. But I do think goodness changes everything. And I’m reminded once again that the arc of the moral universe may be long, but it bends towards justice and as we do good we can safely let it run its course.

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storied

It’s one of the most familiar phrases in the English language. It carries power to change circumstances, shift world views and even shape nations. It is known by people from age 2 to 102 and usually elicits a similar response regardless of the age. It is spoken in houses, schools, universities, churches and countless venues by moms, dads, teachers, statesmen, clergy and the like. Although timeless, it grounds itself in a particular place and time to convey truth and experience in the most powerful medium of communication the world has ever known. And the phrase is simply this, “once upon a time…” We sometimes see variations of this phrase and we understand that what follows will be still be a story worth hearing i.e. “in the beginning…”, “I remember when…”, “Did I ever tell you about the time…”.

But what is it about a story that gives it such power? As alluded to earlier, story has the ability to transform the world. I think we have to consider what a story is meant to accomplish. Stories are somehow coming alongside our human experience to speak of a shared human experience that resulted in some new way of understanding the world. The root of the word story even comes from from the Latin word historia, so you can see how there is some necessary expectation behind what a story is meant to convey. Consider the person of Jesus for a moment. Whenever he was attempting to introduce a new understanding of the Torah or of the world, He would usually begin like this, “There was a man who had two sons…” (Luke 15:11) or “A Jewish man was traveling from Jerusalem down to Jericho...” (Luke 10:30). It’s almost as if he understood the power of a story to challenge preconceived notions of the way things are supposed to be.

Now many of you might not consider ourselves to be storytellers. I am sure many of you have friends who are great storytellers but might not feel so gifted. The thing is though, we all have stories to tell. We have all had experiences that have shaped our lives and shaped our worldview differently. We all have lived storied lives. We just need to find ways to tell our stories better knowing that they can, and more than likely will, effect the hearers. In his short eBook, How To Tell a Story, Donald Miller reveals his structure for how to tell a story. “A character has a problem, then meets a guide who gives them a plan and calls them to action. That action either results in a comedy or tragedy”* I think the power in this structure for us is to see ourselves as the main character in our life’s events and then finding a way to relate it to others through those lenses. For many of us who follow Christ our problems are often aided by others in the church or through Christ himself. The challenge for us is to realize how much of an impact our story could have for someone else. Paul puts it this way in II Corinthians 1:3-4 “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

Our stories have power; power to comfort, power to transform, power to help, power to heal. May we find meaning in our stories and find ourselves willing to share them with the world around us today.

* http://static1.squarespace.com/static/51fe8bc1e4b0c3bde0e1976c/t/536a53f3e4b0ef2b782bb3d1/1399477235409/HowToTellAStory-Donald+Miller.pdf


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