7 Takes to Facing the News

7 Takes to Facing the News March 15, 2019

Here is a blustery Friday if ever there was one.
Woke up to the news of the horrific shootings in Christ Church. Read this which immediately put it in perspective. Praying for them all today.

Also discovered that I was wrong about the nationality of the person I posted about on Tuesday. He was not Kenyan—he was Nigerian-Canadian and was on his way to visit Kenya. Praying for his family too, and everyone who lost someone on that flight.

Spent a teensy portion of the week being shocked and interested in the college fraud scandal. As per usual, I didn’t know who any of the people were because I’ve never watched Full House, nor whatever that other program was. The part that did seem abundantly clear, though, reading a People article about the family of the Full House actor (look—names are hard, like Math), was the tragic way that sin creeps stealthily into family life. The couple were described as “very competitive” in their parenting, and “having it all together.” They pushed their daughters academically but their daughters refused to be pushed. They wanted something, desperately it turns out, that their daughters didn’t want. So now, not only are they humiliated in the eyes of the world, their own family circle is broken, lying around in ruins.

That kind of thing doesn’t grow in a day. That is years and years of piling unspoken and unacknowledged expectation up, trying to form someone into a shape they don’t feel inclined to bend to, insisting that your vision takes precedence over reality.

It’s what we all do to God, every single day. We expect certain things from him that we don’t admit even to ourselves. Not things that he has promised to give, but things we believe we are owed. When he doesn’t deliver, we rage and storm in bitter anger. We take matters into our own hands instead of respecting his right to be who he is.

One thing I like about having six children is that I don’t really have time to funnel any of my own hopes into any one of them. They all fail me all at once and I fail them. As a parent, my job is to apply pressure in one direction and another—take a bath, do your school work, be kind, eat your vegetables—and that could, if I had more time, very easily bleed into Be This Kind of Person. I frequently lack respect for their own inclinations. I mix up their good desires with their bad ones and say no to everything and then have to backtrack and, wouldn’t you know it, apologize. Every morning when I wake up I try to remind myself that they are people too, and that it is not my will that should form and shape them, but the providential interplay between God’s gracious hand and their own desires. The Holy Spirit has to be the force that directs them where they ought to go, not me. I can only stand by and watch, and offer hot milky drinks like tea and Ovaltine when life gets difficult.

The human condition is marked by true violent evil, by small unremarkable sin that grows into full blown catastrophe, by the terrible failures of technology that we so depend on to make us happy and keep us safe, and by our own frustration and sorrow in the middle of it all. We can but fling ourselves onto the mercy of God who is able to take all that is bad and turn it, some long day off, into something that glorifies his own perfect goodness. How that happens cannot be known in this mortal life. The only way to catch glimpses of it is, when stooped over the pages of the scripture, or slumped in a church pew, or standing disconsolate looking over the ruined trajectory of your day, to pray, and pray, and then pray some more, and then just a bit more for good measure.

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