• Carolyn Norton

Heal Our Land

Always cheerful

A loving person

A beautiful human being

A friend to all

A gentle giant

A devoted father

A shining light in his community

A man of God

These are words that friends and family of George Floyd use to describe him. This week we watched with horror as that very man was suffocated to death by a white police officer in Minneapolis. Just weeks ago, we watched a video of a young black man, Ahmed Aubrey, being shot to death while out jogging in his neighborhood at the hands of white men who seemed to act like they were participating in a sport.

Like many others I found myself asking WHY? How can this be? Aren’t we far past the killing of innocent black men and women because of the color of their skin? I was horrified, stunned, I wanted those white men to suffer for what they did. My knees hit the ground. “God, tell me what to do?” I can hear his response now – “Listen. Talk. Show love. Give grace. Use your voice Carolyn.”

But is that enough?

One black friend told me this week that she is always afraid when her son leaves the house- that he will be the next George Floyd or Ahmed Aubrey. Another told me that she tells her kids to never wear hoodies, but instead to dress nicely with collared shirts and be in before dark because of the same reason. She lives in fear because she knows her kids may not come home because of the color of their skin. Another friend told me that she’s tired of being the “scape goat” for her white friends to call when these things happen, as if she should have the words to tell them what to do. That’s not her job.

The suffering is real. The hurt is real. The pain is real. And we, as a nation, should feel it too because these are our brothers and sisters, and when one suffers, we all should suffer. But sadly, we’re not there yet.

Look around. Our country is full of diversity- of race, religion, sexual orientation, thought, values, opinions- and that’s a great thing. We were founded on differences. Can you imagine how boring this world would be if we all looked the same or had the same thoughts and opinions? But we cannot call ourselves the “land of the free” or say that “all men are created equal” until that is TRUE.

Our places of work need to address this, our leaders need to address this, our churches, synagogues and temples need to address this, WE need to address this. Racism is a HEART issue- and we have some serious work to do to mend our hearts.

Friends, you can’t heal a wound by ignoring it. You need to expose it, medicate it, attend to it and in some cases even undergo surgery for it. This disease, called racism, has infected all of us. And we need healing. And healing starts with tending to our hearts, searching our hearts for any biases that we may have and going to God with them in prayer. It starts with listening to each other, caring for one another and leading with LOVE.

Those of you who know me know that I am a Christ-follower. I believe that I was created in the image of God, that all of His children were. I believe that He knitted us together in our mothers’ wombs (Psalm 139). I believe that He purposely made our bodies to work together- every limb, every part, “so there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one member of the body suffers, every part suffers with it.” (1st Corinthians 12:25-26).

God didn’t stand back from our suffering, He entered it. Jesus took on the injustice, our sin and our shame. The grace of Jesus makes all of us one. Grace means “unmerited favor”. It’s not deserved, we didn’t earn it. So then, why aren’t we showing this radical grace and love to ALL of God’s people? God, break our hearts for what breaks yours!

I am blessed to go to a church who addresses these issues head on and doesn’t shy away from them. This morning, in fact, one of our pastor’s Ben Stuart addressed the topic of divide and race in the most beautiful way in the Passion City Church sermon (it should be up here in 2 days). Our main pastor, Louie Giglio, opened the service with a rallying cry to our nation to listen and love each other better. And he ended with this prayer:

I believe THE way to justice, THE way to peace- his name is Jesus. We need a revival in America, a spiritual awakening in America. A heart changes when Jesus brings it from death to life.”

Then I opened up Facebook and my former pastor, Andy Stanley, started his service today with these words:

“If your heart isn’t broken over the death of George Floyd …please examine your heart, for from it flows the wellsprings of all your life. As a Jesus follower, our daily prayer should be ‘help me to see as you see and to respond as you would respond’. 2. There’s actually something you can do; it’s awkward and it may be a bit time consuming but it has the potential to shift your perspective and maybe change your life. If everyone in the United States did what I’m about to suggest, we would all be better for it. I want you to begin an ongoing, honest dialogue with someone whose skin is a different color from yours- it may be a friend, a coworker, maybe someone you serve with at church, and when they suggest you read something, read it, and when they suggest you listen to something, listen to it. And this is an all-skate. Ask for permission to reach out when you have a question or when you hear something you don’t understand or when you see something that bothers you and be honest with your questions. Be a student first, and a critic second. Will that change the world? No, but it might change your world.”

To my black brothers and sisters. I see you. I feel you. I hear you. I love you. And I commit to being part of the conversation, asking questions when I need to, seeking to listen and understand, to use my “platform” and voice that God has given me to speak up when I see injustice happening, to do my part to ensure that a death like George Floyd’s or Ahmed Aubrey’s or the many who have gone before them never happens again.

When George Floyd was being suffocated to death he kept crying out “I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe.” Friends, racism is suffocating. Let this be our battle cry for peace until change happens.

God, please heal our land!

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