The Washington Football Team defeated the New York Giants last night in stunning fashion: they missed a field goal that would have won the game, but a Giants player drew an offsides penalty. Given a second chance, Dustin Hopkins made the kick as time expired that won the game 30-29.
However, the game’s unusual outcome is not why I’m starting today’s Daily Article with it. Headline news was made beforehand when the Washington, DC, franchise held its first “Pride Night Out.”
It hosted a pregame party for guests and reserved blocks of tickets for attendees to watch the game together. The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington and the LGBTQ marching band DC’s Different Drummers performed as well.
LGBTQ activists are continuing their decades-old strategy to normalize and legalize LGBTQ relations and to stigmatize those who disagree. The so-called Equality Act is a recent example of the second and third tactics; last night’s game in Washington was another example of the first.
We can expect many more. For example, NPR is celebrating Wednesday’s marriage between Colorado Gov. Jared Polis and his partner, Marlon Reis. The article notes that this marks the first same-sex marriage of a sitting United States governor. The US averages 3,473 weddings per day (based on 2020’s total number of weddings), but NPR made sure we didn’t miss this one.
My purpose this morning is not to defend biblical marriage, a subject I have discussed often over the years (here, here, and here, for example). Rather, it is to commiserate with evangelical Christians who are ready to give up on the “culture wars” this ongoing issue represents.
It is one thing to face a crisis with a plausible end such as an economic recession or even a military conflict. But when a problem has no end in sight, such as the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, fatigue sets in. Despite the biblical warning, “Let us not grow weary of doing good” (Galatians 6:9), that’s exactly what can easily happen to us.
When a pandemic turns endemic, we need resources beyond ourselves. As Tish Harrison Warren notes in a brilliant New York Times article, this is just what we find in our faith. “We have been given the gift of knowing how the story ends,” she writes. She explains that through Jesus’ resurrection, “we were rescued from the oppression of sin and the power of death. The end of the story is that Jesus makes, as the Book of Revelation says, ‘all things new.'”
As a result, she testifies: “The church proclaims that in the resurrection, we have glimpsed the Promised Land. We cannot know the path ahead for any of our individual lives, but we can read the big story of redemption back into our particular life and our particular moment.”
But there’s a catch.
This week we have been exploring ways to experience empowering intimacy with Jesus. Yesterday, we noted that pride is “the devil’s most destructive tool” and a powerful weapon against spiritual intimacy. When we are deluded into self-reliance, we won’t choose Spirit-dependence or pay the price to know Jesus better than we already do. Rather than embracing “the big story of redemption,” we seek to redeem ourselves.
However, you and I were made to need intimacy with our Maker. In our anti-Christian culture, we need the power of God to embrace and defend the truth of God. As Charlie Chaplin wisely observed, “You’ll never find a rainbow if you’re looking down.”
How do we find the “rainbow” waiting for those who turn from pride to humility and self to the Spirit?
Wise king Solomon observed, “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom” (Proverbs 11:2). He also offered us “wisdom” that leads to such humility. Let’s take three steps with him today.
Solomon noted: “Before destruction a man’s heart is haughty, but humility comes before honor” (Proverbs 18:12). Where have you failed in the past to be the person you wish to be? Would you let these painful memories humble you before the God who forgives and heals?
Perhaps Solomon’s most famous words are these: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6). What problems in the present seem too great for you to handle alone? Would you let these challenges humble you before the God who guides and empowers?
Solomon observed: “The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps” (Proverbs 16:9). What about the future worries you this morning? The very fact that you are troubled by tomorrow shows that you cannot solve its problems today. But God can: “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand” (Proverbs 19:21). Will you let your fears of the future humble you before the God of eternity?
If we allow past pain, present problems, and future fears to humble us before the LORD, how will he respond?
Shelley Genovese Calhoun lost her husband and the father of her little girl on 9/11. In the decades since, she has made this discovery: “There is nothing that can compare to [God’s] word and his promises. Only he can make the painful things of the past the most beautiful blessings of our future.”
She testifies, “I have seen God’s glory show up in the midst of my pain and his inexplainable peace cover me in the midst of my suffering.” She adds: “In my darkest days, as I drew near to Christ, he drew near to me. I have never felt a closeness to the living God like I felt when my pain was so heavy that I could not bear to carry it on my own.”
However, Shelley admits that there have been times when “I didn’t have the strength to pray or even words to say.” In those moments, “The presence of God met me right where I was, comforting me in a way I’ve never been comforted before.”
She also learned through her heartbreak that “nothing can ever separate us from God’s love.” And she found that she can comfort others with the comfort she has received, which is why she wrote her book, Twice Blessed: A Journey of Hope Through 9/11.
God loves you just as much as he loves Shelley. The intimacy with Jesus she experienced is available to you today.
Will you admit that you need what only your Father can supply?
If so, what steps into intimacy with him will you take today?