I wrestle between a despairing view of things and an optimistic, over-the-rainbow sentiment that things will be better someday. I think this way of living in the world and trying not to be so caught up by it, captured and caressed by its cares, makes me cynical sometimes. I want to hope for the best and pray for an improved state-of-affairs, but I also know what's in me, in you, in this population of wayward children. I know what we're all capable of, for better or worse.
I protect myself from disappointment this way because I don't expect much.
There are many who want to save the planet from self-destruction, who see the natural order of things spinning out of control and who fail to accept the way of a world marred by sin.
All the effort to make this place into Eden again seems futile.
But does that mean we throw our trash out the window and burn our plastic? Do we let go the laws of justice and build more prisons? Are we supposed to wash our hands of ever trying to improve on "the way things are" and quit struggling for paradise lost?
That's the friction. Going against the flow means rubbing constantly against the sharp elbows of the natural order of things - the flow from organized to chaotic, perfect to imperfect, Eden to our present world.
Just trying to organize my own home reminds me that we bring so much garbage into our own lives with our own greedy, grubby hands.
It all feels like it's flying apart sometimes but the rainbow-side keeps calling me.
Out of their place of captivity, the Israelites stumbled into a desert wandering with all the riches of Egypt, all the blessings of this world and the freedom from futile toil, and right into a circling captivity of doubt.
We like to belittle their long-way-home and wonder at their timidity - I mean, God just parted the waters to give you safe passage! How could they still doubt? How could they hesitate? How could they fight and bicker amongst themselves?
But they did and we do, too; and hindsight may look at us and wonder how?.
Being given a promise doesn't make you a believer.
If everyone is fighting some sort of battle then it doesn't matter that I can't make a difference on the other side of the continent or the opposite arc of this globe. It doesn't matter that I can't go there and I can't change that.
It doesn't matter that I live in a nearly all-white community and what can I do about race; that I live in a gospel-encrusted town and who can I tell; that I am insulated by an easy life and how can I know.
It only matters that I help the ones closest to me, wherever I am. And in steadying them, I am steadied. In teaching, I am taught.
It matters that I encounter injustice in my own home and counter it with grace. And in giving grace, I receive it.
It matters that we teach our children - the world is not fair and when I say, "Deal with it," I mean deal with the injustice in our own hearts.
It matters that we all store up beauty for ugly days and the sinful ways our lives are insulated from the pain of others.
Being given a promise doesn't make you a believer, but living day in and day-washed-inside-out can take hold in your heart, can make you want to believe, can make solid the hope - I hope.
Help the one. Help the next. Help yourself to hope for someday and hope for this day and the hope of glory, Christ in you.