We were driving the entire day that Prince died. My nine year old son rode shotgun. We listened to the local Christian radio station while it was in range, then began Treasure Island on CD after crossing the Tappan Zee Bridge from New Jersey to New York. We finished the book somewhere in Connecticut, but still had hours to drive.
After a rest stop and subs, we turned to secular radio for a change of pace. We searched for non-Prince-saturated air play, but found none. By the time we drove down Grandma and Grandpa’s long, twisting driveway, my son knew more about Prince than I ever thought he could. He knew the chorus of his most popular songs and even now, months later, occasionally is heard singing Raspberry Beret to himself.
I could have listened to hours of commercial radio, or read a short news article online regarding Prince’s untimely death. There was no avoiding the news of his passing. I would have preferred less innundation. I watched as Prince was memorialized and deified in the following weeks. Unchallenged, news-wise, for those weeks, the rock star’s iconic face still had a significant corner of every news websites front page. Those were the days, when Prince held the top news story place for weeks because nothing else of major collective concern was happening then.
The last months have brought broadcasts of profoundly disturbing events around the world. It’s hard to keep up.
When I speak to people around me, I see that not everyone does keep up. Some people can’t differentiate between horrific incidents. On the other end of the continuum, I have also sat across from people with passionate, almost unsettling, responses to these events.
It's been thought-provoking to see how varied these commentaries are. In the same day, I spoke with friends who were so anti-Trump that they proclaimed that anybody would be better than him as President. Hours later, in two different conversations, the upcoming election came up. Two different people on separate occasions volunteered information on their presidential pick. Who were they voting for? They looked at me quizzically; was this a trick question? “It’s a no brainer; Trump," was their response. Perhaps we are all currently having similar conversational experiences.
One thing is certain; there are many opinions out there, and a good part of them are passionate.
This concerns me. I’m old enough to understand that, as opinionated as we can all get about politics, there was once interpersonal decorum. I don’t remember ever feeling alarmed that the coals are being stirred up and people believing that there was so much at stake. They didn’t vilify, and pronounce the imbecility of, the entire population of people that voted differently from them. The heat is on.
Go to any of the online news sites, and you may get slapped by more opinions than you may be able to withstand. They are acerbic and stinging. If you easily get hot under the collar, uncensored clicking onto politically provocative ads to other sites can be risky business.
The spectrum has two ends, and there seems to be less and less gray material. We have become more polarized and less unified. Just as I have heard the avowed denunciation of each of our presidential candidates, I have heard both sides of several other issues. Yikes. It’s been stressful.
The spectrum has two ends, and there seems to be less and less gray material. We have become more polarized and less unified.
A few people have curiously asked me what I think on different hot issues. I have been put on the spot and stuttered, afraid to offend and add to the malice that invisibly fills the air. I want to show respect and honor to even those with whom I disagree. These moments have been like dress rehearsals for interviews for a diplomatic position. I’m not sure I would have gotten the job.
I’ve noticed that I’m developing a subtle non-offensive nod, mild smile and slightly lifted eyebrows to buy time as I think. How do I respond to a query into my own views when they may not agree with those of my interviewer? I don’t think I’m changing any minds through discourse this week. Neither do I want to become apologetic for my opinions, especially when they are pried out of me.
Never before have I wanted to be a chameleon just to keep peace. I know that Christians are exhorted to be evangelical about Jesus. But we are also told hold our own and not back down in culture. I’m beginning to see that this isn’t easy like it once was. It seems that so much of what we believe these days is either challenged angrily or minimized as being irrelevant.
Heated arguments about this decision ensued that day and have since continued. I didn’t foresee family members being annoyed because other local department stores sell dated cosmetics, and less trendy stationary is too expensive elsewhere. As beloved family members are loyal to the same store that I avoid, there is so much emotion circulating in the air, within homes and in lines at our favorite coffee shops.
Assassinations, bombings, hatred, political conventions, boycotts, tension. It’s getting many of us mad, and some of us are mastering the art of keeping straight faces, as we hide our shock at people’s opinions. Sensitivity has gone by the wayside as people seek mutual substantiation of their thoughts, concerns and opinions. The world is rocking, but we as Christians have the advantage; we are standing on a rock.
Psalm 18:2 offers words that will buffer any verbal tirade, and will keep us grounded when world events shake us. David, who was no stranger to opposition, danger and political instability, wrote;
”The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”
The time has come to pray for our country and world like never before.
Still, we must pray for knowledge and wisdom as we step into the harvest fields. In Matthew 10:16, we are warned, "I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” The Greek word used here for shrewd is phronimos (fron’-ee-mos), which means intelligent, prudent, sensible, wise. Jesus warns us; we must be on top of what is going on, but we must always act in love.
These men listened to God, and were credited for their keen observation of current events. This is our call, too.
Luke 8:17 says, “For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.” As evil reveals itself, we should respond in prayer. Informed prayer is effective prayer. This is the winning strategy. We should each take our part in this war.
God’s people should be the most concerned, most learned, most clever and most invested of all mankind. He will show us how to pray, and our prayers will change things. We know who will win, despite the discouraging battles that we seem to have been already lost. There are many battles being avoided and prevented by effective prayer. We can't yet know the impact that we have already have had as we have held evil back by standing in the gap with our prayers. His soldiers are already at work. God bless you as your stand in your place.