In a way this feels like a long, long dry spell. I haven't had as much as usual to say on the blog for weeks now. It will pick up again. I thought it might do so a couple weeks ago, but I got involved in a flurry of emails with my authors and the publisher, getting the new edition of True Reason ready for the typesetter. Then when I thought I'd have some time last week, the PDF came back from proof-reading. That was after putting together a new talk for Truth for a New Generation in Charlotte a couple weeks ago; and now tomorrow I'm heading back that way for several days of meetings with Ratio Christi and for the National Conference on Christian Apologetics. I've got a couple other non-blog writing projects underway at the same time, too.
So it hasn't been dry; it's just been raining somewhere else, not here.
Just a couple of thoughts, then.
Chuck Smith of Calvary Chapel passed away, for one thing. My wife and I attended a Calvary Chapel for a couple years in Big Bear Lake, California for a couple years in the early 1990s. There are two Calvary Chapels near here in Ohio that have been tremendously encouraging to me in my Ratio Christi work. Mostly I appreciate Pastor Chuck Smith's leadership decades ago in bringing young people to Christ without asking that they clean themselves up first. At least that's how I recall it: I was pretty young myself at the time. He will be greatly missed.
The Federal government is partially shut down. I avoid blogging on politics, but this situation is too big to evade. It's also strangely personal. The owner of one of my wife's favorite restaurants in historic Yorktown, VA, just a couple miles from where we used to live, was ordered not just to close down but to remove everything from the building. Something more than just cutting government costs is afoot here.
The key word, I think, is pain. I hate pain. I've had pain in my feet and/or shoulders almost daily for four or five years, and I don't like it. No one does. I have a bottle of Vicodin that was prescribed after my foot surgery a year and a half ago. It would take all the pain away. I've used exactly one of those pills in the past eighteen months. That kind of pain relief is the wrong idea. I've also done hours and hours and hours of physical therapy: more pain, but of the right kind. It gets to the root of the problem, and slowly but surely it's helping.
So even though I don't love pain I know it's necessary sometimes. I think we might be at one of those points in our national life. Continuing to grow our national debt is like taking Vicodin. Forcing restaurant owners to move out is the wrong kind of pain, though. It's a deflecting move, like hitting someone on the head so he doesn't notice his foot is sore.
The problem, in reality, is reality. There is a limit to how long we can spend more than we earn. It's a reality we can delay but not finally escape. There is a time of accounting to come. CBS News last night featured Head Start programs that were shuttered this week, and spoke ominously of how many children would be affected. How many children will be affected, though, when our government can no longer legislate goods and services into existence? Or is this week's effect the only one that matters?
And so the question I might have to face before long, and you might, too (if it hasn't hit you already), is this: what kind of pain are we prepared for? Do we have the community resources to pull together on this? Do we have the strength of faith it will take? Do we have confidence in God to bring us through?
Scriptures come to mind: Phil. 3:8-11, 1 Peter 4:12-19, and others; especially John 16:33.
We may be at the point of finding out what we are made of. Rather, we may be at the point of discovering who God really is in our lives. Believers throughout history and around the world (especially in the past week or two, in Africa and the Middle East) have known that God is good in the hard times. I wonder if we Americans are about to find out the same thing.
My discussion policy limits comments on politics. For this post I'm welcoming those comments provided that they are about the issues, not the political parties or personalities.