Use Your Voice: Ferguson and Our Future

What happens when the stimulus doesn't match the response? What happens when the punishment doesn't fit the crime? Could it be that we don't have the right information, or that we don't know the whole story, or that we are blinded by the narrowness of our own experiences?

Many Americans think that Officer Wilson deserved punishment of some sort for taking Michael Brown's life. Many Americans think that Michael Brown deserved punishment for stealing cigarillos and assaulting an officer of the law. Many Americans think that rioting and raging is the appropriate response to their perceived injustice. Many others think that the only meaningful and effective response is peaceful demonstrations and discussions. Still others think that there is nothing at all to talk about.

No matter where you land in this spectrum, it is undeniable that there is unrest in America today, and that unrest is about much, much more than the rounds that one white police officer pumped into one black man on one August afternoon. Ferguson has only pulled back the curtains on the tensions that have existed in America for years.

The truth is that this is our inheritance. We aren't responsible for the sins of our fathers, no we aren't. But we are reaping the harvest of what our fathers have sown. Strange fruit has withered and died and fallen from many trees into the soil of our society, where its seeds have taken root and grown into new trees, bearing a different kind of fruit that is no less deadly but is, alarmingly, much less visible to the dominant culture.

So what can we do? What can we do in the face of such longstanding, deep-seated tension? What do we do with this harvest of Distrust, Prejudice, Misunderstanding, Confusion, Fear, and (at best) Voluntary Segregation?

I don't know. I don't have a pat answer for you. Because I'm not YOU. I'm me -- with my own life experiences, my own history, my own family, my own neighborhood, my own job and coworkers, my own roommates and friends, my own fiancĂ©, my own church, my own grocery store, my own positions of influence and power, my own story. But this much is true: Each person can only lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him. God has established and instituted our authorities. Our hearts make plans, but each of our steps must be brought forth by the Lord. And although we may not hold the position in our culture that we desire, we know that God's grace toward us to give us the life that He has chosen for us is not in VAIN, but is to demonstrate His wisdom and power. By the grace of God, I am what I am.

So what can we do? Each of us, in whatever circumstances the Lord has placed us, can take steps each day to tear down the wall of hostility. I'm in my neighborhood, you are in yours. But we will face different moments of decision each day, moments where we can deny our prejudicial inklings; where we can stand up for the cause of justice; where we can refuse to comply with our dominant culture's practices of apathy, indecision, and passive, tacit approval of the status quo. These are moments where we can willfully step outside of our own perspectives, where we can ask questions and engage in conversations with people we normally wouldn't, so that we can become students of what the American experience truly is. These are moments when we can kindly confront someone who is spewing vitriol and senseless hatred and urge them to pursue the path of love and peace. These are moments when you can use your voice -- the voice that the Lord ordained for you to have, for the people the Lord ordained to hear it -- to stand on the side of Justice and Righteousness. Speak for truth. Speak for love.

But the one thing we cannot do -- the one thing that will absolutely, without question, irrevocably cause the most damage -- is to do nothing. To sit idly by while hatred and injustice and division wins. To apathetically let the moment pass us by, to forget about the the seeds that are being planted, to ignore the harvest that will be coming.

America, the trigger has been pulled. We have been asked to see, to learn, to seek to understand, and to change.

How will you respond?

Hate evil, love good, 
and establish Justice in the gate. 
Let Justice roll down like waters, 
and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. 

Let it roll.


my heart lives in a broken home.

I keep looking over my shoulder,
out the front window,
to the spot on the street where he always parks his car.

Is he coming today? Does he know how much I need him to come today?
Today is hard day.
Today, yes, today is a hard day,
but there aren't a lot of things that get to me when I am in his arms.

Today is a hard day because today we don't go home together.
And that's stupid, because we don't go home together on any other day, either,
but today,
two of our friends went home together
for the first time,
for the rest of their lives.

And after the celebration was over,
and the sendoff secured,
and the sound equipment put away,
we both went home.

We don't go home together.
Someday, maybe.
Not today.

He isn't the center of my identity.
He isn't the keeper of my security.
He isn't the giver of my life and breath.
He isn't the author of my destiny and he isn't the holder of my happiness.
And yet, I feel like a half of a whole without him.
It's like we are a broken home, split each day by the Watterson Expressway.
We don't go home together.
Someday, maybe.
Not today.

It's true, they say: Comparison is the thief of Joy.
How can I not compare
when the contrast is glaring me down,
and the robber has stolen off with any shred of gratefulness I had.
I was better off making my own way,
making my own home,
making my own happiness.
I was better off as the only part of a homogenous whole,
keeping my home and my heart and my happiness intact,
sharing my life with hundreds and thousands of others,
belonging only to the universal brotherhood of man.

Now I belong to one.
Half of my heart sits halfway across the city.
And he wonders in wonderment
and he fusses in frustration,
does she cry
at every good-bye?"

Because her heart lives in a broken home, babe.
No number of rousing choruses of "A Day is Coming Soon…"
can lessen the pain of this daily breaking homeless heart.

Be kind, and patient, and understanding.
Be long-suffering and loyal.
Be the wiper of tears
and the kisser of hair
and the holder of hands
as if they were your own.

Because I gave you my heart,
and now you carry it away



the time is short.

Have you ever lived under unbearable circumstances and nearly lost all hope for change? Have you ever longed for something so badly that you couldn't hardly think about anything else? Have you ever found yourself thinking that, despite all your efforts, "this relationship will never, never, never be repaired?" Have you ever sat in your car, rallying every ounce of fortitude and courage you could muster, just so you could open the door and face whatever the next few hours would bring? Have you ever despaired that you could possibly survive the next years, months, weeks, days… minutes?

Yes. I have too.

Through trial and error, and through erring in trials, I have learned this lesson a hundred times over: the pain is only as bad as my perspective is wrong.


Perspective creates space for the truth to be seen.
Perspective teaches proportion.
Perspective gives us a hint of the greater reality: how very little we really know.
Perspective gives us hope that things can be different.
Perspective helps us to bear the unbearable, to love the unloveable, to forgive the unpardonable.

When we lack perspective, our troubles loom large in our field of vision, and we can see and think on nothing else. Our troubles then become our primary basis for our emotions, our decisions, our reactions, even our identities.

Perspective comes when, standing next to our troubles, we have a true vision of God: the Sovereign Creator, the Ever-Gracious Father, the Sacrificial Lamb, the only true Healer, Comforter, and Teacher. Compared to what God is doing eternally, is there any burden we cannot bear for a short while? Compared to the eternal wisdom and might of God, is there any circumstance that could befall us that He cannot redeem? Compared to His long-suffering suffering, is there any pain or longing we endure that outdoes His patience and endurance?

In the hands of our sovereign God, nothing is wasted. The time is short, beloved. He will not delay His mercies. Only remember, your vision is broken, occluded by your woes; for Him a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years is like a day. In a single moment, He may swiftly bring to you a thousand years' worth of blessings and comforts and joys and wisdom. Over a thousand years, He may steadfastly bring to you one monumental day's worth of blessings and comforts and joys and wisdom. Either way, He would not be wrong. Either way, He would be good.

I have seen the business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. ...I perceived that whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it. God has done it, so that people fear before him. That which is, already has been; that which is to be, already has been; and God seeks what has been driven away.