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Prayer & Fasting

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October 19, 2017

by Dr. Lani Wilson

Sometimes, especially in these times, one may wonder when God is going to do something. Many have said that the horrific natural disasters are God speaking to us. More secular voices insist that it is simply the effects of human greed plundering the earth. And of course, the middle road is that it is both. We have witnessed natural disaster and then human disaster like Vegas, the current modal symbol of American violence. What must young people think of the world they are inheriting? How do we inspire them to take action to turn the tide?

Currently the atmospheric concentration of CO2 (the leading greenhouse gas) is approximately 398.55 parts per million (ppm). According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the federal scientific agency tasked with monitoring the health of our oceans and atmosphere, the current average annual rate of increase of 1.92 ppm means we could reach the point of no return by 2042.
Have We Passed the Point of No Return on Climate Change? Greenhouse gas cuts must begin soon or it could be too late to halt global warming
Scientific American, EarthTalk
April 13, 2015

That is kind of sobering, isn’t it? Our children and grandchildren may be living on a dying planet. But, there have always been warning signs and prophets who warned us.

He said, "Watch out for the doomsday deceivers. Many leaders are going to show up with forged identities claiming, ’I’m the One,’ or, ’The end is near.’ Don’t fall for any of that. When you hear of wars and uprisings, keep your head and don’t panic. This is routine history and no sign of the end." He went on, "Nation will fight nation and ruler fight ruler, over and over. Huge earthquakes will occur in various places. There will be famines. You’ll think at times that the very sky is falling.”
Luke 21:8-11 (TMB)

He says the same later on in the same passage in verses 25-26:

It will seem like all hell has broken loose-sun, moon, stars, earth, sea, in an uproar and everyone all over the world in a panic, the wind knocked out of them by the threat of doom, the powers-that-be quaking.

Jesus was teaching about the coming fall of the temple that occurred in 70 AD, and apocalyptic speculators have seized on the this as a way to foment their own theories about who is worthy and who is not. LaHaye's and Jenkins’ Left Behind series of books squeezed and twisted their own theory of divine election into a movement that supported and gave rise to the new political, extreme right-wing in American politics. LeAnn Flesher’s 2006 book, Left Behind? The Facts Behind the Fiction, lays bare the theologic illogic of this movement. Yet, here we are in 2017 with the cabal of ungodly opportunism sitting in the White House. Is this new? Most likely, not. It is amazing that every generation has its own doomsday prophets. We have experienced the rise and fall of empires throughout humankind’s short stay on this planet. And yet, we are still here. African-Americans have always lived through the threat of annihilation. And yet, we are still here. This latest wave of open warfare against us as a people, a culture within American culture, is as virulent as has been in the past: We can just see it immediately, in color, and quite literally, in our hands, twenty-four hours a day. The methods of oppression are also more complex and diffused across the culture. And to heighten our concern even more, later in the same passage Jesus tells us,

But be on your guard. Don’t let the sharp edge of your expectation get dulled by parties and drinking and shopping. Otherwise, that Day is going to take you by complete surprise, spring on you suddenly like a trap, for it’s going to come on everyone, everywhere, at once. So, whatever you do, don’t go to sleep at the switch. Pray constantly that you will have the strength and wits to make it through everything that’s coming and end up on your feet before the Son of Man.
Luke 21:34-36 (TMB)

Ah, but this is what I love about The Christ. Right before he cautions His followers to “be on your guard,” these words jump out at us.

Don’t brush this off: I’m not just saying this for some future generation, but for this one, too-these things will happen. Sky and earth will wear out; my words won’t wear out.
Luke 21:32-33 (TMB)

It seems to me that Petersen’s Message translation brings us into the passage as the eternal Christ we know had intended. The original KJV seems to have interpreted Him as saying it was only those living at the time who would experience Jesus’ return. However, if we rely on our timeless experience of God now, in our lifetimes, we must redact that with 2,000 years in our rearview mirror. If God is beyond our crude understanding of time, Jesus must be taken quite literally: “All of what you know and experience will change, but I won’t.” When we pray and if God allows us in Her presence, we know that time seems to stand still. If God lets us find Him, we know that time resolves away and we are suspended in stasis. It is during these times that our wounds and frights and terrors and worries are washed off, as if they were layers on top of us rather than living in us. It is then that we are aware of the Living God in Christ Jesus. They become external to us. Our prayers are not just petitions and conversation with God. They are the active means by which we are cleansed and renewed because the Living God inhabits our souls.

So shall we walk with the weighted walk of the doomed? Is it sinful if we sometimes feel exasperated and terrified that our sickened planet is symptom-laden with human greed and ignorance? Are we “bad Christians” because we get discouraged? I say, “no.” I say The Nazarene told us repeatedly that we were going to feel and experience all of this and He said,

It will seem like all hell has broken loose-sun, moon, stars, earth, sea, in an uproar and everyone all over the world in a panic, the wind knocked out of them by the threat of doom, the powers-that-be quaking. And then - then!-they’ll see the Son of Man welcomed in grand style - a glorious welcome! When all this starts to happen, up on your feet. Stand tall with your heads high. Help is on the way!
Luke 21:25-28 (TMB)

If we have spent any time in the presence of The Christ, we know that He was talking to us as if we were there. And in the Mind of God, we were.

LORD Jesus, thank You for doing all You did to ensure that we were there when you talked to those Gentiles that You loved so much. In Your language, in Your voice, in Your suffering, in Your death, in Your words, in Your human and divine heart, we were there. Thank You because when our children and grandchildren look to us in despair about the illness of the planet and all living things on it, we can tell them that because You lived and died God has intervened in our wanton self-destruction. Regardless of our trajectories, individually and collectively, the Universe of One told us that through His love proved by the Great Sacrifice, we were there. And wherever He is, we are there with Him. How else, what else, where else, Who else could be better? Not a one. Not a one.

Just One.

Such is the great love of God for us.
Such is the great love of Sweet Jesus for us.
Such is Great Love.

Amen.