"Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time."
-- I Peter 5:6
I am doing my best -- hitching my wagon to the everything's-going-to-be-all-right stars, and hugging my seat on the Pollyanna Express. But it's not easy, and everyone I know feels the same way. We're all trying not to sing Richard Avery's depressing song: "Daily news is so bad it seems, the good news seldom gets heard." Some days, like the aftermath of death and misstep in Iraq, we wonder if there's any good news at all anymore.
In the midst of all this gloom and doom, a couple of Sundays ago, Ruth Graham, daughter of evangelist Billy Graham, spent the day at our church. Her messages were inspiring and divinely timed. Using some of the bad news in her life as a springboard, she overshadowed those experiences with the healing love of God, which helped her through circumstances she could not manage alone. Her visit also reminded me of a day 30 years ago when I heard her father say something as appropriate today as it was then: "The world is fast losing its ability to govern itself."
To put Rev. Graham's words in perspective, we were recovering from another war 30 years ago, and America was as polarized then as it is now. But haven't we learned anything in 30 years that could prove him wrong?
How about in 30 centuries or, if humanity is that old, 30 millennia?
We who raise children monitor their progress from the moment they can stand literally on their own two feet, until they leave the nest and take figurative stands for themselves. But shouldn't we adults have it together by now -- governing, getting along, taking responsible stands, conquering evil instead of each other? Alas, it appears, we still have a lot of growing up to do.
I've been wrestling with this question for weeks, or maybe years. My answer may be simplistic, but it seems plausible to me. The reason for the messes we keep making of our world goes back to the beginning of time, and is always the same: "Move over, God. We'd rather do things our way."
But is it possible that we'd be better off if we followed the Biblical advice to "humble ourselves under the mighty (and loving) hand of God" (I Peter 5:6) instead of trying -- and failing -- to run his world with only our wisdom and our strength? I guess that wouldn't work unless enough people believed this were God's world in the first place.
Recently two gentlemen with very different ideas about God alluded to this question. According to California pastor Dr. David Jeremiah, "We can't violate God's plan without coming up with a better plan of our own." And in the search for someone to blame for the Iraqi prison scandal, New Jersey Sen. Joseph Biden said, "Resignation should be required no matter how high (the blame) goes, even to the Lord God Almighty Himself."
I find these suggestions equally preposterous. In response to Jeremiah, is there a better plan than a perfect Garden of Eden the world's first inhabitants could have enjoyed and bequeathed to us? A better promise for the former Israeli slaves than a land of their own after a divinely led journey to get there? A better standard of behavior for all inhabitants of the world than the 10 Commandments? And, Sen. Biden, although your statement was likely facetious, your thought is universal. Only, if God goes, who will have the last word or plan for anything?
It may be too late to get the world back on God's plan; the prophesied, world-ending "Battle of Armageddon" of Revelation may be just around the corner. But if there were even a partial "humbling yourselves" to his plan, perhaps God would exercise his patience, "hear from heaven, and heal (our) land" (II Chronicles 7:14) again.
Considering the mess we're still in, and knowing it was always God's plan for the government to be "upon his shoulders" (Isaiah 9:6), isn't it worth a try?
(Barbara Seaborn is a local freelance writer. E-mail comments to email@example.com.)
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