Pickle Heaven Press-James R. Johnson

something to help you laugh and think about life with Christ

color blind — January 6, 2021

color blind

I am somewhat color blind.

So, my wife Sharie and I fuss about my clothes. I want to wear plain solid colors, because it gives me a remote chance of being able to coordinate what I wear. 

But she wants me to wear interesting, patterned, multicolored things.  And she is the one who buys my clothes – which means that I have as much a chance of coordinating my clothing as a putting socks on a rooster.

So, we fuss!  Only recently we struck up a deal.  If she should die before me – then I get to clean out my closet and invest in some Amish wear. 

If I should die before her, she has my permission to dress me for the funeral in whatever she wants. 

Color blindness is a liability to me – but color blindness can be an asset.

My earliest memories of the neighborhood in which I was raised involved two other kids named Anthony and Angela.  They played at my house – I played at theirs.  I wasn’t aware they were a different color than me until someone pointed it out – but we played on. 

I went to a High School that was predominantly African American.  The guys with whom I played football were like brothers.   I had a ton of fun singing in a school choir that would vamp the end of Hallelujah Chorus.  I was the only Anglo in a soul band.  I still love the Stylistics.  I was honored by my fellow students by being elected senior class president.

For many of us, color was something you found in a box of crayons.  We were people who worked, studied, sweat, suffered and strove together.  I even had a crush on a wonderful African American girl (who I hope is not reading this.) 

But something dark and terrible happened that senior year.  Agitators from outside our school came in and disrupted our peace.   There were inflammatory speeches; and clashes between the NAACP and the John Birch Society.   Every other day either the white students or the black students would raid the PA room and broadcast propaganda.

The school year was abruptly ended several months early because violence had escalated and was out of control.  We were not even sure we would graduate. 

But there was an even greater loss.  When we sub-divided by race, even the innocents were forced to hang out with our own, for safety.  Priceless relationships were strained and suspended, and it was profoundly sad. 

I was so glad to graduate and put all that behind me – and yet it’s déjà vu all over again. 

The divisive culture of my high school is becoming the culture of my nation.  People are devouring each other because of racial enmity.

I believe and try my best to live out the Gospel – a way of life that was designed to be color blind.  It was the prophet Samuel that said, “God does not view things the way people do. People look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” – 1 Sam 16:7 NET Bible ®

The Gospel may be the only way to erode our broken human penchant for prejudice.  The Scripture makes it clear that God’s people have certain obligations to “all men.”  Not just Christians, or people of the same race – but to “all men” 

The phrase “all men” (which includes women for sure) pops up frequently.  For instance.  We are to pursue peace with all men (Heb 12:14); to show every consideration for all men (Titus 3:2)  we are to pray for all men and to give thanks for all men (1 Tim 2:1); we should be gentle with all men (Phil 4:5) and we are to respect what is right in the sight of all men (Rom 12:17)

To “all men” shouts the Scripture.  Not just some – but all, not just the redeemed but all; not just those who agree with us but “all.”   And the people of God need to set the example in such matters because our Lord desires “all men” to be saved.  1 Tim 2:3

As we start a new year, let’s put the color back in the crayon box, and strive together again to create a land where “all men” (and women) are valued and celebrated.

Let’s live the dream – the dream of Doctor King who said, “I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

A PRAYER: Lord strike our nation with a color blindness that there may be liberty and justice for all.

end of the line — November 4, 2020

end of the line

Her assignment was to write a brief essay.  Being the involved parents that we were, we attended the open house and located her masterpiece in the jam-packed array on the walls of her third-grade classroom. 

Her teacher had highlighted one section that caught our attention.  At the end of a line, our daughter wrote, “I was very happy.”  At the beginning of the next line she wrote, “When I found out I was very happy.”

Hmm?  “I was very happy when I found out I was very happy!”   That’s wonderful – I guess. 

Obviously, she got to the end of the first line, lost her train of thought, and then tried to pick it up again without looking back.

A funny foible BUT also a reminder that there is a risk in forgetting what has already been written! 

In the days of Gideon, these words were recorded in Scripture, “And the children of Israel remembered not the Lord their God, who had delivered them out of the hands of all their enemies on every side.” – Judges 8:34 (KJV)

Those Israelites had found themselves at a crossroads in their history. 

Their grandparents had made the Exodus from Egypt to Canaan.  They experienced God when the Red Sea parted and the manna rained down, and they knew that they were on the right road. 

Then their parents took possession of the promised land.   They watched the walls of Jericho crumble.  Once again, they experienced the power of God on their behalf.   The nation was on a blessed trajectory.

But that third generation, Gideon’s generation, they had forgotten the Lord and what He had done for His people in the past.  They lost their train of thought and started a new line that led them into the bowels of sin and idolatry.

It is the better part of wisdom to look back and remember the past as we wrestle to set the direction for the future.

My wife did that recently as we drove through the heart of Alabama to see the birthplace of the Civil Rights movement.  We traveled the streets of Montgomery where Rosa Parks courageously refused to give up her seat on the bus. 

We walked around the Dexter St. Baptist Church where Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. preached while he patiently labored to dismantle the barriers that kept African Americans from voting.

From there we glanced up the steps of the nearby State House, where a blockade of state troopers had heartlessly turned away the petitioners. 

Then onto Selma where 600 men, women and children had gathered to walk the 56 miles to the state capital.  We drove across the notorious Edmund Pettus bridge where those genuinely peaceful protestors were brutally gassed and beaten by the state police.

As a kid in the mid 60’s, I remember watching this history unfold on the evening news.  It was awful.   

But – then I also remember that a little over 40 years later, our predominantly Anglo nation gave evidence that our character had meaningfully matured.  This country elected our first African American president.  

A person of color, once barred from voting, was voted into office – the highest office in the land.  Even those who voted for the other guy agreed that the election of President Barak Obama was a watershed – an extraordinarily proud moment for the USA. 

Wow!  God’s grace has carried us forward in some thrilling and significant ways. 

We have come so very far since Selma, but it’s not been a flawless journey.  There remains plenty of injustices to correct.  

As we face these challenges, we can’t forget what has already been written.

With the courage of Dr. King, Rosa Parks and so many other civil rights heroes, may we continue to vigorously protest and correct racial injustice and with the patience and wisdom of those same heroes and heroines may we do it with civility.  

A PRAYER: Lord please – please, continue to refine our flawed nation for our good and your glory

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