Psalm 103; 1 Samuel 23: 7-18; Romans 11:33-12:2
I have not felt transformed or renewed in the past little while. In fact, lately, I have felt as though the world has turned against me, sort of like David must have felt with Saul trying to kill him.
I am waiting for my Jonathan to stand with me against those who want to see me dead…or at least broken down.
I am waiting for God to strengthen my hand so that these worries might be done.
The past four years have offered one disappointment after another – often these feel more like failures.
Early on, my messed up discernment process – the subsequent fool I felt I made of myself before the Commission on Ministry...
Over the past year, having my duties at work stripped away from me one by one by a new boss, to the point of knowing that any day I might be eliminated from my position…and then… having it happen…I was fired...
Having my name besmirched by that narcissistic boss – my reputation sullied in an attempt to appeal unemployment benefits… accusations known to be untrue hurled out into the world for the sheer thrill of causing damage….
Seeking help through the Department of Social Service, having a caseworker send help through the mail … to the wrong address. …then, after I checked on it, be told I make too much from the unemployment (that finally kicked in) (that may be near to history) to receive help…
These days I am afraid to look up for the fear that yet one more crazy thing will be tossed at me.
If it is not an “enemy” out to get me, then it is at minimum the reality of living into a failing culture.
Once upon a time, I was accused of “creating furor” and that might have been true but it was never vindictive, nor mean-hearted and never ever an attempt to do harm. In fact, I spoke truth to the power and it caused grief to that power.
Over the past four years, I have learned what it is to be powerless…to be at the mercy of not only those who would do me harm but of being an invisible player in a social welfare system. Even in the church, it feels as though I have mattered little.
I can assure you I have beat my chest and cried aloud in pain and anguish to God – WHY ME????What have I done to deserve this?
And Why me indeed? A better question would be Why not me? Why another?
Paul tells us:
DO NOT BE CONFORMED TO THIS WORLD. Be transformed by the renewing of our minds that we may discern what is the will of God – what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Is it the will of God that I go through this trial with a vindictive past employer?
Is it the will of God that the caseworker from the Department of Social Services screws up when we need her to help?
Be not conformed to the small minded pettiness or human error of this world.
It is not God’s will that meanness happens, nor human error…Life just happens.
I do believe it is God’s will that I understand the problems that plague people everyday…the situations beyond their control that beat them down, wear them out and run them over. I am one of hundreds of thousands and out of those numbers, I am one of the lucky ones. I have my community, my family, -- each one of you -- to bear my burdens with me, to walk this journey with me.
I lost my job because I was naïve to the mean nature of some people. I innocently thought that truth could and would overcome evil.
And I still believe that God’s abiding love will prevail. eventually
The only way it fails to do so is when I allow myself to be conformed by those things in the world that do harm.
I appeal to you, my brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your lives as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God.
Do not be conformed by the meanness in this world, by the petty nature of people who seek to do us harm. Do not repay hurt with hurt, hate with hate.
Do not be conformed by the inept functioning of a social system which has far too many desperate people that need help and far too few dedicated people to help. We cannot be angry at effects…we have to change the cause…
Be transformed by the renewing of your mind – by the steadfast love of God for each one of us – that love that gets us through each trial, each tribulation, each day.
Know that what we seek is good and acceptable and perfect when we seek that love.
It is there in that renewing that we make our covenant with God, just as did Jonathan and David. In that covenant, our bonds are strengthened.
It is in that renewing that we know we are living contrary to a good portion of the world and that it is going to be very difficult on many days.
But in that knowledge we also have one precious understanding – God is with us always as we live this journey together.