Phyllis Beveridge Nissila
…remain in the love of the Lord…
Have you ever noticed that when oppression seeps in, colors fade, turn ominous?
For example, have you seen color photographs of WWII German concentration camps that also capture some of the surrounding land only to reveal a stark contrast between the two areas?
Whereas the images inside the camps tend to be a study in smudged browns, grays, and black (populated with walking skeletons in faded prison garb and dirty, waxen mounds of decaying flesh stretched over bone), just outside in the farmlands fruit trees and flowering shrubs reveal the flush colors of robust life in spring and summer. In the fall, trees dressed up in gold, crimson, and translucent yellow make it hard for the eye to choose. Winter is a pristine, soft landscape.
For another example, as oppression seeps across the political scene in this era, black smoke and red explosions smother street scenes normally dressed in night-life sparkling with myriad shades of neon and glitter (for it is usually at night when such destruction wreaks the most havoc).
But oppression doesn’t just cause a literal loss of color, it degrades and mutes figurative colors as well, especially the shades of culture, so to speak, that in every corner of the world give each tribe and tongue true richness of diversity and creativity, indeed, that reflect a universe pulsing with infinite inspiration.
For example, when the richness of language is reduced to some little black or green or red book of Political Correctness with its ever-growing list of words (ideas, and beliefs) which-must-not-be-uttered, communication is crimped, even humor is suppressed*.
When that happens, people have already begun to pull away from each other, to retreat from the kind of depth and breadth of discussions and debates that are necessary to hash things out–as opposed to what is becoming more the norm of PC communication these days, i.e., simplistic, emotion-driven “hash tag memes” which serve to reduce complex issues to clever one-liners for the lazy-minded who then become the easily-led.
Thus color, both literal and figuarative, bleeds out from any milieu where freedom is suppressed and freedom-lovers, oppressed.
But this is not news, on some level or other, to anyone with any observational powers these days. Sadly.
So to my focus here, then, specifically, two notes of encouragement.
Staying Free in the Political Battle
It is of critical importance to “stay free” in midst of the political fray by maintaining freedom of thought lest we succumb to the “base of the brain” and react in fear and agitation which draws away from the stength and depth of thought needed for critical thinking and problem-solving, i.e., draws away from the pro-action needed to survive and overcome.
On this and other destructive forces at work in the current state of danger I would label the politics of rage, here are several previous posts discussing, among other related topics, how we can easily get caught up in the rage–and get stuck there–and how to resist and avoid it in order to survive, overcome, and even thrive.
Staying Free Spiritually
This freedom is, in my view, of much greater importance, for it is from the spirit, whether evil or good, that thoughts are formed, words emanate, and actions follow.
In relation to the sorry state of politics, flawed human nature too often gets in the way, sometimes to a lethal degree.
So we need a little help.
Correction: a lot of help.
Military strategists such as Sun Tzu, author of The Art of War (see here for commentary), offer wisdom for temporal warfare success.
And fortunately, as believers, we also have an Eternal Strategist, a Spiritual Miltarist Who not only “shelters us in the shadow of His wings,” as the verse quoted above puts it, but also “keeps us in His love,” as the other verse indicates, and against love there is no law, no evil, no rage, no politics, no oppression that will ultimately succeed.
If evil could ultimately win, given man’s propensity to conjur and conquer, humankind would not have lasted much long after the get-go.
In other words, in the midst of the often thought-stopping, soul-shaking, spirit-suppressing sights, sounds, and stench of the sorry state of divide-and-conquer politics abroad in this era, and in any, there is a power, if we access it, if we remember and employ it, that is stronger.
It is a power that strengthens and emboldens us to do what we have to do when it gets dark…even until the light returns.
Here’s some other commentary on what–and Who–we can rely:
1 Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most Highwill rest in the shadow of the Almighty.2 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,my God, in whom I trust.”3 Surely he will save youfrom the fowler’s snareand from the deadly pestilence.4 He will cover you with his feathers,and under his wings you will find refuge;his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.5 You will not fear the terror of night,nor the arrow that flies by day,6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,nor the plague that destroys at midday.
7 A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.8 You will only observe with your eyesand see the punishment of the wicked.9 If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”and you make the Most High your dwelling,10 no harm will overtake you,no disaster will come near your tent.11 For he will command his angels concerning youto guard you in all your ways;12 they will lift you up in their hands,so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.13 You will tread on the lion and the cobra;you will trample the great lion and the serpent.14 “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.15 He will call on me, and I will answer him;I will be with him in trouble,I will deliver him and honor him.16 With long life I will satisfy himand show him my salvation.” (NIV)
(For devotionals on each verse of Psalm 91 that include specific, real-world examples of how God has literally sheltered and protected others, you are invited to view and download for free a devotional, “In the Midst of the Fray,” inspired by such a time as this that you and I were designed to live in, survive in, and despite all, thrive.)
*As a former humor columnist as well as a literatue instructor, this effect, to me, is one of the most telling of how far the PC (anti)culture has infected our modern world. One of the easiest and most entertaining ways of poking fun at areas of human nature that need some good honest ribbing is humor. When we no longer have satires to shine a light on hypocrisy and hyperbole to show the ridiculous–and dangerous–ends to which human folly can go, we lack not only a very important literary check and balance but also a very important social and political balance.
For an apropos–and salient–example of such needed humor, may I invite you to discover a modern satire written by Mark Dunn entitled Ella Minnow Pea, that exposes the very danger of movements like Political Correctness and how they damage the language which ultimately spirals down to damaging civilization. My comments on this appear in a previous post: When Words Become Crimes: A Novel Idea on the Hidden Danger of PC-Speak.
Image of rusted container from here.
Image of riot scene from Wikimedia Commons
Image of forbidden symbol from Wikimedia Commons
Fortunately, “God’s tent,” as it were, is a big one filled with His love, mercy, guidance, comfort, instruction, correction, and above all, love.
It beats the mean streets down here, that’s for sure, as tantalizing and distracting as they may be!
Cheers and blessings,
Yes, as Peter said, ‘Obedience to God comes before obedience to men’ (Acts 5.29). Man is increasingly incoherent in the political sphere, and as ‘baseness stands high among the sons of men’ (Psalm 12.8). It is imperative that we rise above the banalities and temptations of the world. Evil abounds and casts an oppressive shadow over mankind. You are right, we must remain spiritually free from all that the world loves. It is all the difference between light and darkness, truth and falsehood. ‘Live in Christ, my children, so that if he appears, we may have full confidence and not turn from him in shame at his coming’ (1 John 2.28). (Quotes from the Jerusalem Bible).