Different day. Different shoes. Different socks. Same gravel. Same grass. Same path. Different place. I intentionally chose to do more than just quiet hellos or nods of acknowledgment as I passed people today – I think a few people were freaked out by the greetings they received. But I needed to be in the gravel today, needed to be connected, needed to talk to others.
That sums up my walk this morning. In the last few days, I am grateful to have had quite a few conversations with people about the election – they have been conversations face-to-face, over the phone, and electronically via email, texting, and facebook. Some were with those who felt relieved and hopeful by the results. Others were with those who are hurting and worried. I am grateful that they have all been respectful and honest. I plan to have more of these in the days ahead.
This morning, the gravel did not bother me. I know that is the place I need to be right now. I had two conversations with Trump voters this morning and definitely heard where they were coming from in their decision. I may not have totally agreed, but I was hearing them and will continue to listen. I also messaged with a friend who voted for Clinton because he was scared of Trump’s rhetoric. Tonight, I will be spending time with a group of people who are likely hurting as well. These are the places we all ARE and we need to be there in the gravel with one another.
The passage from Jeremiah this morning wraps up the book before moving into Lamentations (which will be an interesting read given the present day). Once again, through Jeremiah, God speaks of the judgment upon Babylon and the Chaldeans. There is great detail that is spoken of what is coming upon them. There are words speaking to what is coming upon Israel in the short term and the longer term (judgment and some blessing). And then the book closes with the words describing how Jerusalem fell and peoples taken into exile. The second half of verse 27 is blunt…”So Judah went into captivity, away from her land.” That’s where they ended up.
It doesn’t take a genius to assess that we are in a divided time in our country and in our churches (and the world as a whole). That’s where we are. Just like Jeremiah’s words, that’s an honest, blunt, and real assessment of the present. But we cannot pull away from each other. We need to engage one another because we are not as we should be – as God designed us to be. God designed us to be in honest and real community and sometimes that community can be messy. It can be messy when we disagree, when we are hurting, when we are angry, when we are excited, when we are…well…human.
So, here we are. My plan is to continue to walk in the gravel as much as I possibly can. Sometimes, I may need to veer off into the grass and you might need to do the same. That’s ok. Let us be sure to be willing to listen to one another in the pain and struggles we feel. Let us be sure to work to make sure that all people are respected and treated as the beautiful God-created people they are. Let us be sure that we continue to work for justice in God’s name for ALL people.
But may we work to still come back and walk in the gravel, in the rough stuff, in the messiness, in the challenges, in the blessings, and in the beauty of life.
A friend of mine blogged on this earlier today some similar thoughts for the congregation he serves and he quoted 1 Corinthians 3:4-5 where Paul writes about the divisions in the church there…“For whenever someone says, “I am with Paul,” or “I am with Apollos,” are you not merely human? What is Apollos, really? Or what is Paul? Servants through whom you came to believe, and each of us in the ministry the Lord gave us.”
I love how Paul comes back to the core of the ministry that the Lord gave us that’s not tied to a specific person other than the One Savior, our Lord Jesus Christ. That’s where I want to be today.