First, a word from our sponsor (that would be Jesus!)
“Don’t judge, so that you won’t be judged. 2 You’ll receive the same judgment you give. Whatever you deal out will be dealt out to you. 3 Why do you see the splinter that’s in your brother’s or sister’s eye, but don’t notice the log in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother or sister, ‘Let me take the splinter out of your eye,’ when there’s a log in your eye? 5 You deceive yourself! First take the log out of your eye, and then you’ll see clearly to take the splinter out of your brother’s or sister’s eye. 6 Don’t give holy things to dogs, and don’t throw your pearls in front of pigs. They will stomp on the pearls, then turn around and attack you.” – Matthew 7:1-6
True story: This morning (Tuesday) I have been wrestling with what to write, how to write. A lot of the problem is the fact that I am plain weary from all the angst. There is this sense that I am shoveling out a path with a tiny shovel, inviting people to walk with me toward peace and reconciliation, but then every day another truck load of steaming negativity gets dumped and it’s more than I can handle.
I am tired and I am overwhelmed and I am beginning to feel a little hopeless (kind of like Sisyphus pushing his rock up the incline). I’m sure many of us watch the news and listen to the commentary and we feel exactly the same way.
Then, in preparing to send out a message to the guys in my Wednesday men’s group, I read the (above) scripture from Matthew 7. This is the next reading – in sequence and planned long ago – in our Sermon on the Mount study.
Reading this has had two immediate effects.
- First, it reminds me that this was never about me shoveling a path through the mire. That’s not my job. My job is to follow Jesus.
- Second, I can’t follow Jesus if I don’t first turn my attention (my ears, my eyes my heart, my soul) to Jesus to begin with.
I hate to break this to you, various news outlets (and I try to balance between many), but I’m supposed to be more in tune with my faith, committed to prayer, and immersed in the scriptures than caught up in you.
But isn’t that the essence of our current problem? We are all too easily caught up in the wrong emphasis. If we could just find a little humility, and then ask God to work peace, and add clarity, and infiltrate us with light, and send us out to engage others with love.
If I could just remember that God does not require me to shovel my own way out of the miry pit, but wants to lift me out instead. However, in order to be so lifted I must first let go of my shovel, let go of my aspirations to make any headway by myself, and then take the hand of Jesus, who is not in the shoveling business so much as the business of lifting up.
So my pearls have been trampled lately. And I have this huge pole lodged in my eye.
I am asking Jesus to take my hand, and to so fill me with light that others will reach for his hand too. And I need to see clearly enough that when I reach out to others and offer my hand it will no longer be mired in so much judgement.
“I pray peace for this country, Lord, peace and light. Teach all of us the ways of grace, and mercy, humility, and healing love. Amen.”
Derek has published seven books in the past decade (you can find them at https://www.amazon.com/Derek-Maul/e/B001JS9WC4), and there’s always something new in the works.
Before becoming a full-time writer, Derek taught public school in Florida for eighteen years, including cutting-edge work with autistic children. He holds bachelor’s degrees in psychology and education from Stetson University and the University of West Florida.
Derek is active in teaching at his church: adult Sunday school, and a men’s Bible study/spiritual formation group. He enjoys the outdoors, traveling, photography, reading, cooking, playing guitar, and golf.