I am sleep-deprived today, having spent the past week engrossed in the PBS series by Ken Burns on the Roosevelts. As the 12+ years of Franklin Roosevelt’s presidency were recounted, it was good to be reminded that ours is not the first time we have lived in times when it felt like everything in the whole world was falling apart. I read of a prayer that was delivered in a recent worship service: “O God, who gives us dreams and visions, we hear the news of the world and it feels like we are in the midst of a dream bordering on a nightmare.”
It kind of came to a head for me last week as I was reading the newspaper while eating my breakfast. I read something that made me no longer hungry. A young ISIS recruit was being interviewed. Here is what he said (caution: reader discretion is advised): “When you fight over there, it’s like being in a trance. Everyone shouts, ‘God is the greatest,’ which gives you divine strength to kill the enemy without being fazed by blood or splattered guts.”
We human beings are capable of incredible good and incredible evil. It is stunning really to consider these extremes. And easy as it is to point out evil in others, we must not deceive ourselves. There is evil in our own hearts as well.
As God looks down upon the human race, I imagine God is both very proud of us and very disappointed in us. Kind of like parents with their children.
My friend, John Fillmore is pastor at the Church of the Brethren here in Nampa. He wrote recently about his son, Cyrus.
Last Sunday, we went out to eat with a group of friends and family. When it came time to bless the food, I asked if Cyrus would be willing to pray for us. Every once in a while, your kids do something that makes you have hope in humanity. Cyrus led us in a prayer that was gracious, sensitive, and showed a maturity well beyond his age. He does things like that without any coaching — the words just seem to come naturally to him. But, just when I was thinking how proud I was of him, he readjusted my perspective again by intentionally dropping a big glob of jello in his water glass. Every time I start to look at this kid with awe and admiration, he reminds me that he is most certainly an eight-year-old boy.
Eight-year-old boys grow up. Let’s hope the human race grows up, too. We don’t have a lot of control over that, but we do have some say in our own growth toward spiritual maturity. The prayer in that song says it well: “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.”