The Summer of My Discontent
As I watch the summer of our discontent give way to the fall, I am struck by a sobering reality; not much has changed. Despite the passionate display of our resolve to see things change, and even our demands, it appears the nation’s resolve has proven greater.
As the protests around the nation slowly grinds to a halt, there has been no substantive police reform and only symbolic events, rallies, and “dialogue.” In fact, there has been a steeling of the nation’s resolve to back the blue, to the denial even of the existence of a problem. The campaign to make this a binary issue, blue or black, has succeeded in stifling progress. The belief that any calls for change is to be against the police, has settled into the veins of the nation and hardened.
In no time, much to the relief of some, and the plans of others, things will drift back to normal. The same normal that continues to be fertile ground for the injustices that set us blaze. The troubling thought has left me searching. Where has the Lord been all summer? We have marched, but it seems we’ve marched alone. Has He left us to continue to carry this historical burden without Him? Why has He remained silent while the enemies of justice prevail again against People of Color? My firm believe that His people, the church, would stand with us, and for us, has been replaced by a deep sadness that, though also Christian, with rare exceptions, we stand alone.
A Story of Grace
While contending with despair, I providentially came across a short video about Ruby Bridges, the brave 6 year old African American child who so courageously desegregated William Frantz Elementary School in 1960 Louisiana. I must beg your pardon for having to describe the situation, but the wonder of His grace is in where it’s so often found.
Ruby was a delicate little girl with big beautiful brown eyes and an easy smile. When I saw her in the clip, an involuntary but audible expression of affection slipped from me. She was so cute, so little, and so small for the enormity of the task. Her beauty and sweetness was set off by the ugliness around her.
As the diminutive figure walked in between the towering US Marshalls, she had to walk through more than two hundred screaming protesters. Like a lamb led to slaughter, she walked as they hurled insults, racial epithets, and death threats. Their hoard of faces were contorted into threatening frowns, and violent scowls, reserved for the vilest of men, yet now directed at a six year old in a party dress and bobby socks.
I was shaken by the contrast; the incredible cruelty of the crowd and the bravery of the child. Little Ruby showed no visible signs of fear, but I imagine the little black doll in the tiny coffin that was passed around in effigy, and the promises to poison her and shoot her mother, left lasting wounds.
When she entered the school, she was taken into the dark cavernous basement where she met her teacher. Barbara Henry’s face was white, just like those outside, but in her face was everything missing from the others. She recognized the beauty and courage in the tiny six year old, and responded appropriately. Appropriately for the wonder of God’s creation and the grace necessary for the moment. She just loved her. They began, that first day of school, a life long friendship. And it was in that moment, I was recognized the workmanship of the God made known in His Word. This, is how my Father works; how He shows Himself faithful.
Hearts Not Laws
While it seemed the battle for the soul of a nation was raging in futility outside in the crowds standing against basic humanity, God was showing Himself strong in a dark basement on behalf of six year old black girl through her white teacher. He had broken down the barrier of the dividing wall, not in the streets, but in the basement. Doesn’t that sound like our God.
Despite my passion to see God manifest Himself in the way I wanted; to show himself strong on a national scale, He didn’t. He rarely does. Believe me, I know God calls His people to do justice. And this in no way excuses the silence, apathy, and all around drag on justice the church in American has been, but our unfaithfulness does not nullify the faithfulness of God. I had forgotten that He has not promised to preserve a nation, but a people for His own possession. Changing laws is our job, and we will persist, but changing hearts is God’s specialty, and He doesn’t persist, He prevails.