I am weary.
I am tired.
I am perplexed.
I am fatigued.
I am spent.
In my own strength, in my own power, I am completely undone.
Does anyone else feel this way?
Criticism chides us.
Misunderstanding disparages us.
Anger berates us.
Condemnation lectures us.
Opinion censures us.
It really doesn’t matter who it is. We have friends no longer speaking to each other. We have political parties who refuse to listen, learn, and negotiate. Podcasts rail against the wind of different thoughts and opinions. And families? Families are divided like never before in my lifetime over positions on vaccines, political following, religion, gender, and more.
And the church? Isn’t it refreshing when we hear of churches that are focusing upon messages unity, grace, forgiveness, and love in Jesus in these troubling, discouraging times?
This is what followers of Jesus are asked to do, right?
To offer grace.
To follow Jesus.
For the past month or so, I’ve been reading the newly released First Nations Version of the New Testament. This version is a beautiful and life-giving recount of the Savior’s teaching and life in the tradition of Native American story tellers. As I read it, my heart is revived and strengthened. The Holy Spirit lifts the heaviness the weariness of this divisive, selfish world away from me.
To give you a taste of what I mean, here are words from Small Man (Paul) to the Sacred Family in Village of Desire (Ephesians):
He gifted us with message bearers, prophets, tellers of the good story, and wisdom keepers, who watch over us like a shepherd watches over his sheep. These gifts were given to prepare Creator’s holy people for the work of helping others and to make the body of the Chosen One strong until we all follow the good road in harmony with each other because we know and understand who Creator’s Son is.
We will then be like the Chosen One- mature human beings living and walking in his ways, and fully reflecting who he is. No longer will we be like children who are tossed about by the waves and follow every voice they hear in the wind. We will no longer listen to the ones who behave like tricksters with their forked tongues.
Instead, as true human beings, we will walk out this truth on the path of love. When we become fully grown, we will be like the Chosen One (Jesus), joined together with him in the same way a body is connected to its head. Every joint in this body is needed to hold it together and help it grow. When all the parts work together the way they should, then the body grows strong in the love of the Great Spirit.
First Nations Version, Ephesians 4: 11 – 16
The past two years have weakened us – especially in how insulated we have become due to several factors related to the COVID-19 pandemic and more.
We are not meant to live or work alone. Yet, so many of us are isolated and alone now.
We are meant to be together, helping and strengthening one another to ‘follow the good road in harmony’ as we grow in our love relationship with Jesus – Creator Sets Free – and one another. Yet, so much of the past two years have been about being right, doing things our own way, self-protecting, and even self-promoting.
O Father in Heaven, I seek your forgiveness for my self-centered ways. I ask for forgiveness for not reflecting You more in my life, in my words, and in my actions and understanding how much I am interconnected with You and with those about me. Father, I confess the weariness I feel from reading, hearing, and even experiencing how people tear one another down – failing to listen, care, and understand. Yet, I confess that my critical thoughts condemn me, too.
Each of us contributes to something good and strong when we seek You fully and wholeheartedly in love and in grace. We each have gifts to contribute to the blessing of all.
How do you want me to live, Lord?
How do you want me to be?
How do I reflect love and grace in spaces of misunderstanding and distrust?
I cannot change anyone or influence anyone to do anything different than what they are doing right now – but I can ask you to transform and direct me in your love and grace.
Father, this critical, condemning world saddens me. In my own strength, I will weaken and waste away under the denigration. Yet, if I look to You, if I choose to connect myself to You and to others who love you, I garner strength and hope.
I fix my eyes and my heart and my mind on You, Lord Jesus, the One who understands weariness, condemnation, and shame:
This means we must keep our eyes on Creator Sets Free (Jesus), the trailblazer of our spiritual ways, the one who was first to reach the end of the trail. The joy that lay before him gave him the strength to suffer on the cross and willingly bear its shame. He now sits at Creator’s right hand in the place of greatest honor.
First Nations Version, Hebrews 12:2
Please lead us, Lord. Show us the way to Love.