A visiting pastor attended a men’s breakfast in the middle of a rural farming area. The group had asked an older farmer, decked out in bib overalls, to say grace for the morning breakfast.
“Lord, I hate buttermilk,” the farmer began. The visiting pastor opened one eye to glance at the farmer and wonder where this was going. The farmer loudly proclaimed, “Lord, I hate lard.” Now the pastor was growing concerned. Without missing a beat, the farmer continued, “And Lord, you know I don’t much care for raw white flour.” The pastor once again opened an
eye to glance around the room and saw that he wasn’t the only one to feel uncomfortable.
Then the farmer added, “But Lord, when you mix them all together and bake them, I do love warm fresh biscuits. So, Lord, when things come up that we don’t like, when life gets hard, when we don’t understand what you’re saying to us, help us to just relax and wait until you are done mixing. It will probably be even better than biscuits. Amen.”
I have to wonder if God isn’t doing a little blending in America. A country that started off so strong has taken a turn that (hopefully) is teaching us much, mainly that God remains in charge. He is fully capable of making warm, fresh biscuits out of some pretty unpalatable ingredients, and yes, some of us require a little more kneading than others.) So, if we agree that this blending is our answer, then 2 Chronicles 7:14 KJV gives us instructions on our goal: If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear.
To do that, we need to make Ps. 139:23-24 our daily/hourly prayer. Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my concerns. See if there is any offensive way in me; lead me in the way everlasting.
Examining our own hearts is pointless, no doubt because we will find a way to justify our evil actions/attitudes. After all, we haven’t killed anyone. We didn’t loot those stores or throw iced water at the police officers. We merely sat in our comfy living rooms and watched on television as the wickedness of someone else’s heart played out. But that’s not what God calls us to do. He wants us to lay our ugly hearts at His throne and ask Him to reveal any wickedness in us (even though it is so much more our nature to find the wickedness in others).
Get that? Any wickedness. Any times when we have remained silent and not spoken out against bigotry and violence. Any times we have secretly celebrated payback between our race and theirs. Any times we have allowed others’ prejudiced behavior to affect ours. Any times we have not asked God to help us examine our hearts, to call our wickedness into account and to change our ways.
Last night I watched Just Mercy, the true story of Harvard law school graduate Bryan Stevenson’s defense of wrongly condemned Walter McMillian who was sentenced to die for the murder of an 18-year-old girl. Stevenson quickly learned that in the South, he, a black man, was himself a target, simply because of the color of his skin.
Refusing to return hate for hate, he founded the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama. He and his staff have won reversals or release from prison for over 135 wrongly condemned death row prisoners and won relief for hundreds of others wrongly convicted or unfairly sentenced. Black and white. Blending at its finest.
If God is stirring something in your heart like He is mine, then we need to agree to be part of the blending process. Granted, we’ve come a long way, but until we determine what we can do to make a difference, we will have a long way to go.