Consider this: Every night I read a devotional that is published annually. The writings must be done at least two years prior to my reading the entry. Such is the publishing process.
Now, consider God’s timing. Over and over I am reminded that God’s time does not match my since of time. There is no way to explain it, but my experience keeps telling me to just accept it.
On Saturday, October 27, 2018, the Jewish faithful joined together in worship at their synagogue in Pittsburg. With no warning, the Sabbath was interrupted as hate spewed upon the faithful.
The senseless act of hate certainly is not part of God’s timing. I am sure that the venom that lead this one individual to attack these faithful is not part of God’s plan; rather, it is an example of how human choice can become twisted by evil.
And as a Christian, I empathize with the pain that the Rabbi and his members, and the community of Pittsburg. I do not know such hatred it my life nor do I ever want to. But, as one who believes the classic line—love always wins—I hurt for those affected by this tragedy.
Why, then, do I find God’s sense of timing so amazing?
Back to my personal practice of reading the Guidepostdevotional each evening—remember these words must have been written two years ago:
Romans 12:18(NIV): If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
As I read that introductory verse, I realized that God’s timing was in place again. And I continued to read. The devotional, which I am including here, was needed to help me understand how to manage the hatred of the day’s events, even though it was several states away:
“I grew up in a politically aware family. Political arguments were a part of life in our household, especially between my liberal mom and my conservative dad. We debated everything and were never afraid to say what we believed, loudly and proudly. We subscribed to three daily newspapers and two news weeklies. My parents never went to bed until after the 11:00 p.m. local newscast.
“Lately, though, our national discourse has grown increasingly rancorous, even toxic. People are’nt just wrong or misguided—they’re evil and nefarious. We vote our fears rather than our convictions.
How did we come to this? It’s not altogether new. Jesus joined the human race at one of its great boiling points. Jerusalem was a hotbed of political strife. Imperial Rome was an oppressive occupier of Jewish lands and ruled from afar with a merciless hand. Herod and his family were ruthless and corrupt. Revolution was in the air and violence was ever far. Nazareth was poor and overpopulated an crime-ridden. The Zealots were already plotting insurrection.
It was into this roiling political cauldron that Jesus deliberately came, had planned to come at this exact moment since the very beginning of time. His message of peace for all humankind was a rank political contradiction. His command to love one another was an historical absurdity.
Yet it was the message that endured through the ages, the gospel of love and not hate, of peace and not strife. The word of Jesus still prevails, then as now. I have to listen closely to hear the eternal message of a peace that surpasses all understanding. (Written by Edward Grinnan)
Not only did God’s timing provide this devotional on a day that was racked with emotional pain, it is at the end of the week that political strife continues to build in our country.
God’s timing will never be understood within my human lifetime, I suspect; but I do think that God’s timing is a reality. I struggle to turn over my sense of timing to God. I struggle to accept blindly the power of God. But, I continue to follow John Wesley’s acts of piety—worship, pray, study scripture, and partake in the sacraments.
The accompanying prayer with the devotional also deserves repeating:
God, Your peace is beyond human comprehension. Teach us not to hate, but to disagree as brothers and sisters, not enemies.
Thank you to Edward Grinnan, to Daily Guideposts 2018, and to God. Your words are timeless and so needed at these difficult times.
None of us has any idea when another violent act will interrupt our lives, but God’s law remains the simplest, most comprehensive law:
37-40 Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.” –Matthew 22:37-40 (the Message)
And from the NRSV, Matthew 22:36-40
36 “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” 37 He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the greatest and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”
The version one reads does not change the message. One reads the words that speak to them. For myself, I read several, and one I like is the NLT:
37 Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’[e] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[f] 40 The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”
The message or the lesson or the direction that is provided in this passage never changes. Love God. Love one another. If all our decisions are made and checked along these two premises, there would be no need for the violence, for the political strife, the man-defined boundaries between our neighbors.
Sadly, evil exists. And humans do have free will, free choice, and ability to make decisions for themselves. All of us, then, are living in a world that hinges on the decisions of one and another. We must make decisions the best we can, but I believe God’s laws are the filters through which I chose to make decisions. I, too, join in Grinnan’s prayer:
God, Your peace is beyond human comprehension. Teach us not to hate, but to disagree as brothers and sisters, not enemies. – In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, amen.