For decades now, I’ve kind of been on the front lines of so much darkness, dysfunction, and misery, all in my little neck of the woods. The Lord started pulling me off the front lines of that war a few years back. I was just done, a wreck, a mangled soldier. I kid you not, that’s exactly what it’s felt like and suddenly I have a lot of understanding and compassion for cops who have seen too much, for soldiers, even some pastors.
I know bad things happen everywhere, I realize no place is perfect, but a few months back a newborn baby was beaten to death and a 13 yr old boy recently committed suicide. The hardest thing about these tragedies is how disconnected our political leadership is, how separated from this grief much of the community is. It’s the complete indifference towards the very real suffering right in front of us that wears on me.
The opposite of love is not hatred, it is indifference.
The Governor is actually really pleased with us because we take 1rst place in social distancing and masking, with some 98% compliance. That’s because we’ve been doing it for decades already. Social distancing and wearing masks is not just a response to pandemic, it’s been a lifestyle, a culture, a way of life so ingrained, people found it quite natural to put a literal mask on who they are and to just stay away from others.
I’m pretty tough, and I have Jesus. The joy of the Lord is my strength and that is the darn truth, but I’m also still pretty shaky, hanging out on the edges of PTSD most days. So I’ve been busy stepping into a new season, off the front lines, and into healing. It’s not such an easy transition either, but it’s necessary, vital. I’m am off the front lines of darkness and just kicking back in the Light and soaking up some restoration.
You wouldn’t think a community could knock you for a loop, but this one sure has. We have some of the highest suicide rates in the nation per capita, like four times as high as the rest of the state. Addiction is so rampant, just through the roof. Many people live in what amounts to 3rd world poverty, substandard housing, often with no water or electricity. We’re also the second most secular county in the nation.
These things all feed on one another. Without an identity in Christ, a sense of purpose, an awareness of the intentionality of your existence, nihilism rules the day and people try to medicate their pain away, and often thoughts of suicide come knocking.
We can blame the weather too, light both in the natural and the spiritual is absolutely necessary and vital for life. Without it, a bit like plants, people will shrivel up and die. We need light and living water.
To end the suicide epidemic, the child abuse epidemic, the addiction epidemic, or at least to slow the bleeding, people need an identity, a vision, and a hope. They need the gospel, they need fellowship with others, and they need to grow in Christ.
But we also need political will, economic will, and justice, the ability to harvest the fruits of our labor, emotionally, spiritually, and financially. This thing about “political will” is no joke, fish always rots from the head down. What I see on the ground all around me is years of failed policies, years of disconnected and indifferent leaders, and generations of fractured relationships.
I’ve long called this place the 9th circuit of hell, a bit of rift on the 9th circuit court appeals, and a bit of a description of what it often feels like to live here in a place where there is no vision, no hope, and no chance of restoration.
Hope by the way, can be exceedingly painful, especially after so much disappointment. Excruciating. Hope however, is exactly where I am going. God said, revival is coming, restoration is coming, refreshment is coming, and it’s coming right here, right to you in the 9th circle of revival. This is ground zero, the epicenter of joy, healing, and light. This is where restoration is going to happen.
God said so it’s now a done deal, and He has reinforced this truth in Isaiah 66:9 which says in part, “I will not cause pain without allowing something new to be born.”