Skip to main content

the world is on fire



Last night I went up to tuck my 5 year old into bed and I walked around the corner and came upon a sheepishly smiling child. She held a clean white piece of paper to her chest and whispered, “I made you something.” I held out my hands to receive what has become a nightly gift. This child’s love language is gifts. She loves me by making me beautiful creations. She turns over the paper and I see all the color and the rainbows and smile.

My daughter starts to explain what it is: “Mom, the house is on fire.”

I freeze inside. She keeps talking but I’m not listening anymore.

All I hear is a voice deep deep within me say, “This is our world. We’re on fire.” Tears spring to my eyes. My throat gets tight. I finally feel the pain and terror and anger from the most recent news cycle. Puerto Rico, the latest health care bill, the NFL kneeling situation, North Korea.

The world feels like it’s on fire. And not in a good way.

Then my eyes land back on the picture and I’m overwhelmed with a different feeling. All the color saturates my heart. The tears turn to joy as I feel God holding the world, even while it’s on fire.

I look at the creator of this gift and say, “thank you.”

“Mom, look, people are putting water on the house and putting the fire out.”

Friends, these are really difficult times for each of us. We each see reality from a different perspective. And something in us wants to fight everyone who disagrees with us. May we remember none of this is about winning an argument. It’s all about showing up and paying attention to the person in front of you. Be curious about their story, the way they see the world, the color of the skin, the character of their heart.

Here’s what I know. The world is a bit on fire. Like it has been throughout history. People were doing some pretty awful things to each other thousands of years ago too. Now, we just know a lot more about it as it happens.

I also know we’re each invited to help put the fire out. In our own way. It may feel insignificant, but it’s not. Some march in the streets, others teach respect in classrooms. Some help kids stop bullying, others create beautiful art about resistance. Some pray, others raise money for ACLU. Some write and sing, others turn off their devices.

Do the thing your heart must do. Speak up, stand up, kneel, lay down and pray. Whatever it is, please don’t give in to the fear and hate. The world may be on fire but God is still holding it all and moving in our midst as a source of healing and reconciliation.

We are God’s plan for the world to know the way of love and peace is how this fire gets put out.

Comments

Most Read

Why Some Experienced Clergy (and Lay People) Have a Hard Time When Younger Clergy Take Renewal Leave

This is a guest post from my very own dad! He's a United Methodist pastor serving in Bend, Oregon. I enjoy chatting church leadership with my dad and it's fascinating to see how our generational differences bring different perspectives to our calling as pastor. We need each generation to walk with each other as we figure it out in this new world. We've been reflecting lately as I finished up a renewal leave and he prepares to retire this June. 
By David Beckett
I fall into the category of experienced clergy which is a polite way of saying I am old. I’ve been pastoring for nearly 40 years. When I was a young pastor my role models were mostly white males who presented an image of success that equated with dedication, overwork, and sacrifice. My first senior pastor talked about the 20 hr/wk he invested in sermon preparation. And he expected his staff to work beyond their stated hours. During those three years of full time seminary and a large youth group I put in up to 80 hr/…

Why pastors need collaboration, not competition

There's competition in every industry. Some get promoted over others. Some work incredibly hard but their gifts go unnoticed. Others do good work and people assume they're fine but underneath, they feel like they could never be honest about how hard life is in this season. People spend more energy figuring out how they measure up in a work culture instead of doing the actual work.

Competition itself implies there are two sides.

I remember field days at my elementary school in Alaska. The half-frozen spring ground was covered with clumps of dirty gray snow. Jackets were thrown on the ground as the fourth graders tried to beat the fifth graders at tug of war. Rope burns were shrugged off as sweat dripped down our young faces. We were determined to beat those fifth graders. Our pride was on the line.

Whether you're a fourth grader or an ad manager at a fancy marketing agency or a senator trying out for attorney general, competition runs deep in our DNA.

We want to be the bes…

99 sheep

Reading Matthew 18:10-14 on this cloudy Anchorage summer morning. Parable of the Lost Sheep. A guy owns 100 sheep. They belong to him. These sheep are loyal and depend on their owner for everything. But then one wanders away. I wonder if this sheep wandered on purpose or accident?

The guy leaves the 99 sheep grazing on the hillside to look for the sheep who got lost. One word in verse 13 jumped out to me. "Andifhe finds [the sheep]...he is happier about that one sheep than about the 99 that did no wander off." IF he finds it. This guy who owns the sheep probably knows the hillside very well and knows his sheep's behavioral patterns. But he may not find this lost sheep. 

When someone wanders off, it's up to them if they want to get found. 

When it comes to our connection to God, some of us may wander on accident. Or on purpose. 

We wait for someone to rescue us. Bring us back. Make it okay. But we have to turn towards the one rescuing us. God will leave the other 99 sheep…