Heart work: “deliver us from evil”

Ever had these words burn your ears—“I’m disappointed in you.”

I know my ears have been seared by that statement.

Many times in my life, I have disappointed people with a poor choice or decision.

I am imperfect. 

In some instances, my lousy thinking wounded hearts and souls.

My old brain will not let me forget the hurts I caused.

Forgiveness is a tough wrestle.

Honestly, I wrestle with lots of things on a daily basis. I imagine that you do too.

Somedays,  I wrestle with God.

Often, I wonder if I’m really wrestling with the devil?

I wrestle with procrastination.

I wrestle with the internal voice in my body—especially about aging.

I wrestle with worry— my most persistent pest.

I wrestle with the future for our grandchildren.

And in truth for a long, long, long time I have been wrestling with America.

Lately, that wrestling has been over our division. I’m afraid our division is our end.

What has happened to us?

It appears that we have lost our capacity to distinguish between right and wrong.

Not as a Democrat or a Republican, but as an American the insurrection in January was wrong.

Why is this so hard for some Americans to reason out?

But even more disturbing to me was the outcome of the second impeachment trial. 

Again, why were the choices made by our former president so hard for elected officials to reason out?

Seven Republican senators recognized the truth and voted for impeachment. Afterwards, some were censured by their state supporters for doing the right thing.

Even more troubling is my hunch. 

I sense the elected officials who voted against impeachment really knew in their hearts that the former president was guilty. But, they put blinders on their hearts blocking out that capacity to see the truth of his errors.

In the second season of the Andy Griffith Show, there is an episode titled—A Medal For Opie

In this episode, Sheriff Andy Taylor’s son, Opie, trains for a race in a local event. Opie is optimistic that his training, including encouragement from his father and Deputy Fife will help him to win the race, and earn his heart’s desire— a medal.

Opie finishes last. He is crushed.

Instead of joining the celebration of his friends who finished better than he did, Opie mopes off and leaves the event. This wandering off catches the eye of his father.

Later in the day, a dejected Opie is questioned by his father about his decision to leave. It is quite a conversation. 

Opie stubbornly holds on to his logic—“his friends defeated him, they took his medal, they are not his friends.”

Andy is focusing on the basics of sportsmanship—“how to lose with courage and dignity by congratulating those who performed better.”

Opie is unbending in his assessment of the event. He refuses to accept Andy’s logic. 

Sensing they are at a stalemate, Andy leaves Opie to ponder these piercing words—“I want you to know one thing—I’m disappointed in you.”

I do not always understand my country. And despite my country’s imperfections, I love my country. 

But, right now, more than in other time in my life I am disappointed in my country.

I can’t tell you how many times I have prayed The Lord’s Prayer.

Recently, I have thought quite a bit about these words from that prayer—“deliver us from evil.”

I think the “evil” in America is this division we have inside us.

I wonder if we have the fortitude to confront the division in a reasonable way so that we come to our senses?

I wonder who is going to deliver us from this division, this evil?

Some might think God will deliver us. 

Some might think this whole mess— the pandemic, social injustice, and the insurrection is all part of God’s attempt to wake us up.

I’ll leave that to you to sort out. But, you know—we can’t even agree on how we interpret the Bible.

One thing is certain, we can’t hope to work through these challenges if we continue to betray our hearts.

Delivering us from our evil is heart work.

The blinders betraying our hearts need to be removed.

America can’t continue with this disappointing evil division.

We must invest in the hard work of changing our hearts—now.

We are better than this.

 Our hearts know it, and so does God.

Delivering us from evil comes down to this—can we rediscover and put to work the love that God built into our hearts?

As 2 Timothy 1:7 reminds us, God did not put us here to be timid.  He built us and our hearts to use his “strength, love, and self-control” for challenges like this.

Delivering us from evil, pushing back this debilitating division—can that be done?

Yes, but I must embrace that “strength, love, and self-control”.

What am I waiting for?

Shouldn’t I be tired of disappointing God?

How about you?

Mammoth Lakes, California in the Eastern Sierra mountains August 13, 2018 photo by Bill Pike

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