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Activism or Love in Action?

I was an activist way before is was trendy. Today, an activist is:

“One who takes vigorous action or pursues involvement as a means of achieving political or other goals, sometimes by demonstrations, protests, etc.”

If you are taking action toward your cause or your goals, you’re an “activist.” It seems like everyone in America is an “activist” these days.

Except we’re not. America today is anything but active. In fact, we’re setting new records for our inactivity. Physical inactivity, overweight and obesity are overrunning us. While health organizations plead with us to do a measly 30 minutes of daily exercise, we’re rushing to get our fast food so we can hurry back into “action” at our desks and computers.

We are activists without the activity! Absent is the healthy activity that can heal us, help stabilize our blood sugar and moderate our mood swings.

What’s the opposite of activist, anyway? anti-activist? in-activist? Sounds like a disease or an over-the counter-medication. Nobody wants to be that!

No. We need to emerge from this pseudo-activism into full-fledged action. We are all activists. We were born that way. We’ve just let that sag a bit. We are meant to take action; it’s what our bodies were made for.

We need to be present, to march, or gather, to protest or counter-protest, to be there in person, to show up. We need to put our bodies on the line, any line. That’s the gift this generation’s version of activism has given us. Let your unique and singular voice be heard in person and in action – carry signs if you like. Connect with like-minded folks, as you like, but also with those of unlike mind. That is the nature of taking action.

We do this from the platform we build for ourselves – not a stage or a podium – but a solid place. A hillside of sorts, a village green, where grains of soil, layered day by day, watered by gentle rains, are held fast by the roots of newly greening grass and sapling chutes. What we plant, tend and nurture may one day grow to give shade there.

Without such a platform, erected and built painstakingly by the physical labor of love, we are just resounding gongs and clanging cymbals, echoing the words of others rather than thinking for ourselves and standing for what we believe in.

Have you seen this image?

wheelchair vet stands for flag

As the flag of America passes by, the only one standing is the man in a wheelchair. Perhaps he’s the only one who sees something worth standing for. 

Activism or love in action?

By all means, sit for the American flag if you must to express yourself, but if you do, please stand for something else that gives your protest meeting. Activism absent activity is worthless. We must define ourselves not by what we’re against but by what we’re for. And then … take action.

All in. Heart, soul, mind and strength. There is no such thing as believing in, without acting for. We are of one nature, not two. What we’ve been given, we’re meant to use.

I’m an activist. I was born that way.

So are you.

A Day Late, but renewable?

This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. ~ Psalm 118:24

If that was the lesson for Monday but I didn’t open it until Tuesday, did I miss it?

It’s so great when we run on time. Better even if we get there early and are already settled in our seats. We’ve shed our heavy coats, arranged our belongings, perhaps even taken a moment to look over the agenda or schedule of events or bulletin. It’s so comforting to know what’s coming and be prepared. And then to hear, the Lord made this day.

But what if we don’t tune in until tomorrow? If I wait “until I have time” or “there’s an opening in my schedule” or “to give it my full attention”? All valid. All reasonable. All late.

I have a friend Stevie who once sent me a devotional writing she had read which made her think of me. She said, “This came for you today.” I smiled and read it right then. Because Stevie has a sense of the immediate need and a faith that serves in real time.

Occasionally, following Stevie’s example, I share a writing or an idea or write a note or make a phone call with the prompting, “this came for ____ today.” There is power in that which does not come from me.

But every now and then I get a reply: “Out of office” or “I look forward to reading your note tomorrow,” and I wonder whether it was a one day offer. Does God’s power have an expiration date? Is it a limited, one time offer?

Because there are many, many things in my pantry or cupboard or my closet which have long expired. What have I missed for not having welcomed them in their day?

No sense worrying. Whatever was, is now past. But it does prompt me to clean out those crevices so I can give today it’s due. I don’t want to miss it again. Because if this is the day the Lord has made, there’s joy.

The baton between believe and act

“faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” ~ James 2: 17

baton twirlingIt’s the age old debate. Which is more real, more right, more likely to save us: faith or deeds? Well, Christians believe it is Christ who saves us. And today He looks very much to me like a baton. You know. The kind that baton twirlers twist and turn and throw up in the air, spinning a million miles per second? I remember having one of those as a child and trying to spin it that way. Except I didn’t know how, so I tried to twist it back and forth really fast. To give the illusion it was spinning round and round. Inevitably it clattered to the ground.

That baton had rubber tips at each end (thank goodness) and I picture one of those tips as belief and one as act. They are connected firmly by the metal rod between. Inseparable from each other. Move one and the other moves. In the same direction, keeping exactly the same distance.

I think I have been confused about believing. Believing today seems to mean gathering evidence to support your case. “I am a believer” means I am investigating how true something is. Heaping more and more support onto the pile. Tipping the balance toward what seems to be true.

But when is the time to act on that belief? How much evidence do you need? How many facts? How sure do you need to be? For some of us, that can be a very long wait. We procrastinate because we can’t be sure. We don’t act. Or our on-going investigation becomes our action or excuse for further action.

Yesterday I called myself to task on this. I was dragging my feet on submitting a proposal. Evidence gathering. Phone calling. Thinking. Penciling in. Drawing flow charts. Making notes. Trying to sketch out all the possibilities, so I could get that proposal just right. Then, that very authoritative voice in my head asked, “Do you believe yourself?”

Did I believe what I was proposing? Did I believe, fully believe, that I could do what I said I could do? That what I said I could provide, I could provide? That the outcome I proposed, given the application of my program, would really come to pass? Did I believe myself?

This hesitation that I had named lack of confidence or procrastination or perfectionism was none of these. I lacked belief. Because when you fully believe, you don’t hesitate to act. In fact, in the moment you fully believe, you are already in action. You’re moving. Believing doesn’t make it true or effective, it enacts it. And I suspect these are not cause and effect. It is not believe first, then act. They are one motion. One continuous motion. Like the twirl of the baton.

I love the scene from Raiders of the Lost Arc where Harrison Ford waivers at the edge of the chasm and then realizes that he must believe that a way across will appear when he steps off the ledge. And it does. The moment of complete belief, do or die faith, absent of all doubt, is simultaneous with the way forward appearing. He wouldn’t have seen it had he not stepped out.

So, whatever I am not doing, not acting on, is really a matter of trust. In the matter of God’s will, if I am completely trusting, I will be completely obedient. In perfect step. If I am out of step, faltering, or shuffling my feet, I need to look at that question: Do I believe myself when I say, “I believe God put me up to this.”

Not the success of my proposal but the act of submission. Who’s idea was this? If it was His, and I believe, then I act. All at once. And this turns round and round. The second I fully believe, I AM able. I AM capable. I AM acting.

When Descartes said, “I think, therefore I am.” He was proving existence.

I’ll go him one better. I think, therefore I am His. That’s the power to turn that baton. Now, getting into that smooth effortless rhythm. That’s the trick.


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