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Wisdom for living in these times

Sunny times

“We don’t choose the times; the times choose us,” says the Rev. Jack Harnish. However, we can at all times “strive to live and work for the kingdom of God.”

JACK HARNISH
Retired pastor, Michigan Conference

Frodo: I wish the Ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened.
Gandalf: So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”

The wisdom of “Lord of the Rings.“ And so it is with us. It’s easy to become discouraged or wish we had lived at some other time:

  • too much natural disaster exacerbated by man-made climate change
  • too much war and oppression in nations we tried to save, like Afghanistan
  • too much ugly political rhetoric and racial bigotry
  • too much sickness and death due to a pandemic, partly because people refuse to do what they can do to protect themselves and others

It’s easy to wish none of this had happened or wish we had been born at a different time, but Gandalf is right. We don’t choose the times; the times choose us, and our choice is how we will live in the times we have been given.

I choose to live in hope.

Despite it all, I choose to live in the promise of God’s good future, the assurance that one day, swords will be beaten into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks. I choose to live in the hope that this nation will one day live out the vision of a nation where we see all persons as “created equal and endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights” and that one day we will become a nation with “liberty and justice for all.

I choose the voices I allow to fill my head.

Quite a while ago, I turned off the blathering 24/7 talking heads, especially the angry voices of Fox News or CNN. Instead, I choose to get my news from trusted sources like NPR, the New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal in measured doses. But, if you fill your mind with all that mindless talk on talk radio or talk TV or the pooling of ignorance on social media, sure enough, you can become pretty depressed pretty quickly.

I choose to work for the Kingdom of God.

E. Stanley Jones was convinced that the Kingdom of God was not just some mystical, far-off, eternal kingdom, but it was meant to be the pattern for our lives now. One of his books was entitled “Is The Kingdom of God Reality?” and his answer was a resounding “YES!” So until the day God’s kingdom comes, and God’s will is done on earth as it is in heaven, I will strive to live and work for the kingdom.

I choose joy over fear.

The fear-mongering in the media can really mess with your mind and soul. Yes, we have serious problems which must be faced in all of their fearsome reality, but I choose to live in joy rather than fear. St. James writes to the fledgling band of persecuted Christians, “Count it all joy when you face trials of any kind.” Seek joy. Discover joy. Claim and share joy even in the face of pandemics and politics. Count it all joy.

So, we may not be able to choose the times in which we live, but we can choose how we live in the times given to us. Choose wisely.