If you just started singing Mmm, Bop, my work here is done for the day. You’re welcome! I jest of course. I was referring to a totally different Hanson song. Before that run yesterday (the one with the dragonfly?), I strapped on my iPod as usual and I hit my “For the Gym” playlist as usual but this time instead of picking out a song to start, I gave the dial a blind spin, hit play and took off. It is my rule to not mess with the music while I run because sometimes God has something in store for me through my music.
Which is exactly what happened yesterday! And the confession I am about to make will make me subject to mockery from friends I’m sure, but I confess that I have Hanson (of Mmm, Bop fame) on my iPod (but not Mmm, Bop itself – weird!). The spin landed me on Hanson’s “World’s on Fire” and as soon as I heard the opening bars, I cringed. Really?! This week?! After everything that has unfolded and is still unfolding in Boston? After the explosion in West, Texas?
For those who aren’t familiar:
Somebody’s calling beyond control
Have you ever felt desperation?
This whole world is filled with loss
Time has a price we can’t afford
Do they know that the world’s on fire?
Do they know that the time is now?
Do they know that you gotta stand up, stand up
Let your voice speak out
Do they know that it’s time?
Caught in a maze you can’t escape
The flickering lights, and the colored lens
The walls that we build just close in
Until we decide to begin
Are we distracted by the sun?
The gleaming jewels, and the beating drums
Is it going the distance we fear?
Have you heard that we’re already here?
Some will say we’ve gone too far
We’re on the edge and in too deep
Some will say we’re too far gone
You can’t erase the tragedy
Now if you took the time to read all of those, you can see why I was a little taken back. But even after the song ended and the tunes shuffled on, the chorus was burning in the back of my brain. “Do they know that you gotta stand up, stand up? Let your voice speak out. Do they know that it’s time?” You may remember from last week that I have been Spirit pressed to encourage fellow Christians stand up for the notion of right and wrong. There are some things that are simply wrong and to accept these sins under the guise of being non-offensive is not what God would have us to do. (We’ll get to “judge not lest you be judged” tomorrow.) So my brain took off.
But it’s so scary to tell people that something is out of line with the word of God. Then they ask me to defend the Bible and they ask me the hard questions like, “How could a loving God, reject someone for that behavior?” “But they are a good person. What do you mean they are still hell bound because they don’t believe in Christ?”
I was wrestling with these questions when suddenly a bald, sweaty, shirtless man in his mid forties came over a slight rise in the path right in front of me. He wasn’t the kind of fellow who by physical appearance was going to be on the cover of GQ. Especially in his roller blades which seemed to have a mind of their own. I could tell from his labored breathing and his facial expressions, this was not a joy roll for him. He was out on the trail because he was exercising. He shot by me in a blink but for my brain which runs on very high levels of caffeine that was all it took.
That takes some guts! For that man to embrace who he is and just BE who he is to do what he knew he had to do took a boldness and courage that I completely lack. He didn’t care who was out there or what they thought. He needed the exercise to make his body stronger and he would get it regardless of a weird woman pushing a jogging stroller and her funny looks.
Remember those verses in Joshua I left out yesterday?
Be strong and courageous, for you shall give this people possession of the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous; be careful to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may have success wherever you go. This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.
Strong. The way to be strong is to exercise, right? For our faith to be strong we have to study the word and know the rules and who God is and what He desires of us. And we have to put it into action, doing what is required. Exercise our faith.
Courageous. Because by doing what God asks of us we will go against the norms of society. People will call us old-fashioned, too traditional, too rigid, intolerant, judgemental, or maybe just weird! Society will tell us we are wrong and we have to be willing to defend ourselves instead of pulling a hedgehog and retreating into our sanctuaries.
Like my friend (because he has stolen my stranger affections now) on the roller blades, we have to strip away the artificial people pleasing exterior. We have to work at knowing what we are talking about. We have to deal with the awkwardness of navigating differently than the rest of the world. Only then will we be ready to Stand Up in a world that is so obviously on fire.