Generally Speaking: Soul searching

By MARILYN TINNIN COLUMNIST,

The news from Washington this week has had me more down than usual.

My “go to” Bible verse is always Isaiah 26:3 “Thou will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee because he trusts in Thee.”

I would tattoo it on my hand and read it all day long if I could! My husband says, “No tattoos at the Tinnin house!” A few years ago I was in a bible study that suggested we find a verse that we would like to claim as our personal life verse. This was mine.

I am old enough now that the concept of peace is far more attractive to me than anything money can buy.

I will take sunrise on the beach over a Broadway play any day of the week! Is it just my imagination, or does the world seem more restless and unhappy than it used to be?

Another verse that has stuck with me lately is this one from Psalms 37. “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him. Fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil desires.”

The fretting not fits very well with my pursuit of perfect peace, don’t you think?

I haven’t done that very well in the last few days. I love the line in the old hymn, “This is My Father’s World” that says, “Although the wrong seems oft’ so strong, God is the ruler yet.” As second graders, my Brownie Scout Troop sang those words in our installation ceremony. That would have been 1959 in the old scout hut on West Percy, I suppose. Those words have served as a meaningful reminder all these decades since.

I do believe those words — they are borne out by scripture. Psalm 2 speaks of God’s sitting on high and laughing at the plots of men.

There is another place in Proverbs 21 that says, “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord; as the rivers of water, He turns it whithersoever he will.”

There is no power reigning on the earth that God has not allowed to be there. When I think of a few mad men of the past, I can barely wrap my mind about that thought. Ultimately, God is indeed the sole one in charge of the affairs of men. I do know that, but we have wandered so far from the things He taught us in His word about the right ways to live that our culture, as a whole, is in peril. It has laughed at His laws and scorned His very presence. I pray for revival in our land. Don’t you?

I pray for the hearts of my children and grandchildren.

Just as the Lord Jesus prayed in the garden in John 17, that God would keep His disciples strong in the world even though they were not “of the world.” That is the rub for all believers. Sometimes we seem to forget that home is a place we have yet to see. Living in the “now” and longing for the “not yet” is a very uncomfortable place to be much of the time.

I was listening to a Tim Keller sermon on the treadmill this morning.

He is the now retired minister of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City.

His podcast is well worth your time. This particular sermon was called “The Gospel, the Church, and the World.”

He was elaborating on the things that were essential to First Century Christians.

He read two lists. One sounded liberal, and the other sounded so conservative. He basically said, “Bingo!” Christians are both. We are not of the secular world. God’s priorities encompass some of each and a lot of neither!

God calls us to be generous and hands on when it comes to dealing with poverty in our world, but He also calls us to value life even as He is “knitting us together in our mother’s womb.”  Keller gave several more examples like that where one thing was a frequent liberal talking point and the next thing  a rallying cry for conservatives . I am sure I will listen to this again. It was almost too much to take it all in on one hearing.

We live in a time of such extremes and such polarization.

When did we become this way? I am not sure, but I do remember when it was not like this. You know, the odd thing is that we throw around certain trendy words like diversity and tolerance, and each side really thinks they exemplify both.

It might do us all a lot of good to take a look in the mirror. Better yet, we might ask the Lord to reveal to us any attitude that HE finds offensive in our conduct toward our fellow man.

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