Press In

The national conversation about race continues to intensify. Have you engaged in the conversation? Not the debate about right and wrong…but the conversation about healing and hope.

Many times hardships are hidden opportunities. The scriptures tell of a moment in Samson’s life when he wanted to marry a Philistine woman. His parents could not understand why their Israelite son couldn’t find a good Israelite woman. (Many interracial couples have heard something similar). To these parents this drastic disappointment foreshadowed a dark future. But there is a simple verse that immediately takes the readers eyes from a human perspective to a heavenly perspective.

His parents did not know that this was from the Lord, 
who was seeking an occasion to confront the Philistines; 
for at that time they were ruling over Israel.
-Judges 14:4
I know that the racial tension in our country is hard. But I believe that through this turmoil God is seeking an opportunity to confront the content of our hearts. Many of us who follow Jesus still harbor bitterness, anger, hatred, and resentment in our hearts. We have even resulted to dehumanizing people (whether white, black, asian, latin, indian, etc) who have been created in the image of God. The acts captured on video and the thoughts expressed in our posts all display the hidden contents of our hearts. It’s ugly but it’s true. And true, deep, genuine reconciliation takes place when we press into the true, deep, brokenness in our society. History has handed us pain and division whose roots run deep. Our greatest responsibility is what will we do with it? Will we pass this pain on to the next generation? Or will we press into the pain in search of healing?

This conversation isn’t going away. And that is good. We don’t want the conversation to go away. We want the racism, the bitterness, the anger, the hatred, the misunderstanding, and the division in our hearts to go away.
So I encourage you to press in. Press into the discomfort of the moment.
If you are ignorant of the experience of others…press in to understand.
If you’ve been hated…press in and love
If you have hated others…press in for forgiveness
If you have grown hopeless…press in with hope
If you think you have nothing to say…press in and listen
If you are overwhelmed by the present moment…press in for the future.
The future of restored, redefined, and reinforced relationships is too valuable for us to shrink back now.

Just Off My Bookshelf: Triumph

Triumph tells the story of Jesse Owens’ awe-inspiring accomplishments during the 1936 Olympics. Jesse Owens was a black man who dominated in track-and-field while also enduring abject racism in America and in Germany (during the Olympics). This book led me to celebrate the humility, character and endurance of Jesse Owens. At the same time, it was a sober reminder of the degradation African-Americans endured with great dignity. This man faced obstacles I will never know and still accomplished remarkable feats.

A few quotes:

“I always loved running because it was something you could do all by yourself, all under your own power. You could go in any direction, fast or slow as you wanted, fighting the wind if you felt like it, seeking out new sights just on the strength of your feet and the courage of your lungs.”

As a student at Ohio State:

” [Coach] Snyder didn’t like it that Owens and Albritton could not live on campus–or in many places off-campus in Columbus–so he tried as best he could to make the track team, at least, a place where his black athletes would not feel the sting of segregation.”

“I haven’t had much time to study, you know. I work two hours a day at the legislature and four hours a day at the gasoline station.”

After winning for gold medals at the Olympics:

“Ruth [Jesse’s wife] went to New York with Jesse’s parents to see her husband for the first time in two months–but together they spent a frustrating and humiliating night being rejected for service by hotel after hotel…Even in New York, it didn’t matter whether you were the world’s greatest athlete, if you were black.”

Just Off My Bookshelf: Devotion

Devotion tells the story of American soldiers in the Korean War. A center piece of the book is the friendship between Tom Hudnor and Jesse Brown, the first African-American pilot in the Navy. It’s rare that I find a book that moves my emotions. The lives of the men and women in this book have had a lingering affect on me. Their lives give great insight into issues of race, family, courage, loyalty, and faith. The author, Adam Makos, does a great job unraveling the story in such a way that you wonder what will happen next.

A few quotes:

“Words can have all the power in the world or–none at all. That’s up to you.”

“Every night he could sneak away, Jesse practiced cursing himself until his eyes remained steady, until he could shrug away the vilest insult without flinching. He knew those words were sure to come. For what he dreamed of doing, the insults would be coming in planeloads.”

“If we stick together, we can’t be beaten.”