I had been staying away from media recently. I had heard the tale of Eric in NYC, I saw the video of the woman in LA. But then, there was this Ferguson deal, and my feed was blowing up. However, with all of the statuses posted and articles written, I was perfectly content not adding my “two cents”. I was saddened, but determined not to read every article, not to get too caught up, not to get emotional, not to discuss, to write, to comment, to share. And, I did fairly well, until yesterday. Yesterday, I saw that the Ferguson police chief “conveniently” revealed that Mike Brown was a possible suspect in a “strong armed” robbery, while sharing that Darren Wilson was the officer who shot him. Then, I read a few comments.
And, I crashed. I looked at my 3 year-old son, innocently and excitedly talking about animals, and mechanicals and I burst into tears. I crashed because I could see the web being weaved. I crashed because I remembered stories from my parents, and southern-born grandparents and great-grandparents, the warnings about how when “they” decide you are expendable, you are. It does not matter if you are a public civil rights figure (Martin Luther King Jr.) or a president (John F. Kennedy), or apparently an 18 year old boy walking down the street in Missouri. But, I reasoned, the former 2 deaths occurred in the 1960s about 50 years ago. We are better than that now, right? My 3 year-old son was born at a different time. Surely, he will not face similar injustices. At least, that is my hope. Then, this song* came to mind…
My hope is built on nothing less Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness; I dare not trust the sweetest frame, But wholly lean on Jesus’ name. On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand; All other ground is sinking sand.
I crashed because of the injustice of it all. How is it that a man can walk into a movie theatre, fully armed, kill multiple people, and yet somehow still walk out? How can another man walk into a political gathering, shoot multiple people, including a politician, and still, walk out? How can a man and his brother put a backpack down, with bombs, at a marathon and still walk away? And yet, this young man cannot merely walk down the street? If he did happen to steal cigars – and according to the police comment, the shooting officer did not know he was a suspect – he was shot multiple times, by eyewitness accounts, with his hands up. Hands up.
I crashed because I realized Mike’s mother and father could very well have “educated” their son much like I imagine we will, “Love people well, finish school, go to college, your character matters, do something with your life… if the police come after you, raise your hands, show you aren’t armed, aren’t threatening…” And, it didn’t work. It didn’t work. How can you protect who today feels like the un-protectable? So, I grieved, and started heading towards despair. And then I read this verse…
When darkness veils His lovely face, I rest on His unchanging grace; In every high and stormy gale My anchor holds within the veil. On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand; All other ground is sinking sand.
As Reggie and I talked about how we will teach our children to navigate this country, I realized, there is nothing we can do about other people. Our responsibility is to shepherd these little children as God leads us. We are to teach them the truth and reality, without instilling fear, distrust or hatred. We have had the wonderful privilege of establishing relationships with people of various nationalities. People we love, and people who love us. This is how they will learn the value of all people, of themselves, and that our God is a “great big God”, who creates, loves, and sent His Son to die for all people.
I also realized that rules and laws can influence people’s behavior, but cannot change their hearts. God does that. And while I am grateful for the rules and laws, I also realize that as Greg Howard wrote, America is Not For Black People. The unfortunate reality is we cannot trust only in the rules and laws because they were written by fallen, broken people, executed by fallen, broken people, interpreted by fallen, broken people and violated by fallen, broken people. All. Of. Us. Promises are broken. Boundaries are crossed. Laws are ignored. Constitutional rights are violated. And, all of these actions can be justified by those with the inclination to do so. People fail, but
His oath, His covenant, and blood Support me in the whelming flood; When every earthly prop gives way, He then is all my Hope and Stay. On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand; All other ground is sinking sand.
So, in the meantime, we desperately strive to live our lives, and raise our children, and love our community, city, country, and world as people who love, imitate and chase after Christ – who also happen to be African American. We cannot ignore either part, but if we are going to avoid becoming bitter (again), distrusting (again), and remain hopeful, then our hope has to be in Christ – all other ground is sinking sand.
This week I have come to a better understanding of our elders who looked forward to heaven and “understand<ing> it better, by and by.” This was not living a life ‘so heavenly minded that they were no earthly good’. It was acknowledging that on this earth, there would be injustice, dreams deferred, and hopes dashed. But, one day…
They still agreed there was work to be done, the gospel shared, stories to be written, injustices fought, laws changed. But, one day…
There would be pain, tears, fights, arguments, debates, betrayals, misunderstandings. But, one day…
When He shall come with trumpet sound, Oh, may I then in Him be found, Clothed in His righteousness alone, Faultless to stand before the throne! On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand; All other ground is sinking sand.
On Christ, the solid Rock,
*”My Hope is Built on Nothing Less”
by Edward Mote, 1797-1874