“I never thought I would live to see the day.” Lately, in our country’s present and not-so-distant past, I find myself repeatedly saying these words. One tragedy after another, one heinous statement after another, one injustice after another, leaves me wounded in these United States of America. Most look to some form of respected leadership for answers and guidance during tumultuous times. Unfortunately, I, as well as others, are finding disappointment in touted leaders whose influence goes no further than a photo-op and witty social media post.
The persistent turmoil in our nation requires much more than what we have offered as a response. It requires a courageous confession, earnest prayer, patience, obedience to God, and openness to a movement that refuses all manner of injustice and embraces peace.
In our most difficult moments when we wrestle with the impossible, we must muster the strength to plead the words of Psalm 5:1-7,
“Hear my words, Lord! Consider my groans! Pay attention to the sound of my cries, my king and my God, because I am praying to you! Lord, in the morning you hear my voice. In the morning I lay it all out before you. Then I wait expectantly. Because you aren’t a God who enjoys wickedness; evil doesn’t live with you. Arrogant people won’t last long in your sight; you hate all evildoers; you destroy liars. The Lord despises people who are violent and dishonest. But me? I will enter your house because of your abundant, faithful love; I will bow down at your holy temple, honoring you.”
Give yourself permission to hang on to hope. Leave room in your heart to trust God no matter what it looks like. A glorious new day is in view where God is lifted high. It is so.
“So what are we going to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us?” – Romans 8:31
There’s a beautiful overlook in the Oakland Hills where we take visiting family and friends for a breathtaking view of Oakland, the Bay and in the far-off distance, San Francisco. On every trip to the overlook we would guide our guests along a short trail lined with flowered weeds to a designated spot furnished with a dilapidated wooden bench. Everyone would gaze at the amazement of such a beautiful view. Wow!
On one specific occasion, our trip to the overlook rendered a different experience. My aunt and cousin were in town and my youngest had a friend visiting from the east coast. All of us, including my oldest daughter, went to the overlook. We took them along the trail and relived the usual “amazing” moment. But that day my cousin presented an option to travel a faint path just along the edge of our amazing view. Before we could talk ourselves out of the unusual suggestion, my cousin was already leading the way. She simply hollered for us to “come on”. A little fearful, we all took each other’s hand and led each other through the sticky brush. Some of us squealed. Some of us hollered. Some of us were silent. But we stayed the course, anxious to get to the end. Along the way we happened upon a serene clearing that fancied a huge tree with hanging strong branches. We stayed a while there, the younger ones playing from the branches, enjoying the hovered area and the cool breeze. In no time my cousin was back on her feet leading us further along the trail, determined there was an even greater experience ahead. We followed suit, hand in hand, one behind the other. Then it happened.
There was another clearing. However, this one was much bigger than the last. There were no hovering trees or branches. Just an open clearing where the sun had its stage to shine freely. And then we saw it. The view left us speechless. The “amazing” view we thought we experienced along our usual path was magnified ten times over with what we were experiencing in that moment. Wow!
The impact of leadership is realized in these two experiences. The leader who takes his/her followers down clear paths of opportunity will yield expected outcomes, leaving usual impressions, right along the edge of promise. The leader who takes his/her followers down hidden paths will inspire faith and courage, yielding joy and peace, leaving an impact of purpose and an assurance of being in the right place at the right time. The glory of God shines the brightest on the unusual leading of God, on the uncomfortable journeys that lead to an anticipated destination of indescribable beauty – indescribable grace. Wow!