Nathan Bedford Forrest, Husqvarna, and Ahija
Wow! That title should get your attention. “How in the world is he going to tie those three things together?” you might ask. Great question. I have no idea but let’s see what happens. 😊
Last week two things happened one morning. I was having a conversation with my youngest son Jacob about whether or not statues should be removed. Jacob is young, an idealist, loves God and loves people, so he is always for the underdog and always wanting to change the world. He is also pretty sure he is always right. (He gets that from his mother.)
I on the other hand am old and very, very wise. I love God and people too but I am a realist. I have been around the block long enough to see changes and movements come and go, and to not get caught up too quickly in the emotional reactions of the masses, especially the young masses. It is also important to note that I have searched my heart and it is as pure as the driven snow. There is not an ounce of prejudice or animus in me. I refer you to the statement above, “I love God and people.” So…of course my responses to Jacob were more correct. I am sure I am always right too. (I get that from his mother.)
Story number 2. Jacob left and I went out to mow my grass. I have a great Husqvarna 46” cut riding mower. It is a dandy. I take great care of it. Change the oil, check the tires, and spray under the deck after every mow. It is NICE with a capital N. A boy and his toys you know.
So, I am mowing away. All of a sudden right in the middle of my front yard, in front of God and all of the traffic on Thompson Lane, my Husqvarna lets out a huge cough and sneeze. I thought the Corona had hit the Husqvarna. It shuttered and shook, then straightened out and kept on going. Thank you, Jesus! But when I looked behind me a huge big clump of old dead, dried up grass had fallen out from under the deck and was laying in the yard, an eyesore to defile this altar to the local Yard of the Month club that I was building. Where in the world did that come from?
Story number 3. We are making progress. The next day I was having my early morning quiet time (because I love God and people and my heart is as pure as the driven snow.) I was reading in 1 Kings about the prophets and kings and how God used them to speak to one another. It’s pretty interesting. Sometimes, the kings, who think they know it all, are taught lessons by the obscure, not nearly as impressive prophets. Sometimes the prophets, who love God and people and whose hearts are as pure as the driven snow, are taught things by the kings and see where they missed it. And SOMETIMES God uses signs and symbols to show them all things they don’t know or to point the blind spots they have. He uses things like axe heads, bee hives, and torn garments. And He teaches them about REAL pure hearts, motives, and love for people. He uses Ahija, a pretty small-time prophet with a torn robe, to deliver a message about the state of the whole nation of Israel (I Kings 11)
“Okay, enough of this rambling Mike,” you might say. And you would be justified! “Let’s get back to the title. How are you going to tie those three crazy things together?” Well, the answer is, I still don’t know. And I am not saying at all that God spoke to me through a riding lawnmower. That would just be crazy! But I will tell you that as I was having my quiet time (because I love…you remember!) I saw again the image of that nasty, hidden clump of dead dried grass, falling out of my otherwise pristine Husqvarna, and God “seemed” to say to me, “You have prejudice and arrogance that you don’t know about. While you are so sure that you know about statues and protests and movements, you are often blind to the secret, hidden motives and mindsets that you live in.” How about that? The statue of old Nate, my lawnmower and little ol’ Ahija all in one vision. That crazy Jesus!
The point of all this? I don’t know what to do about the history of our country. I am not sure the best way to handle those who are so frustrated with a system that has made them feel oppressed and marginalized for 200 years. But I do know that my heart is not as much like the driven snow as I thought is was and I am not as right as I think I am. All I know to do is keep listening. Keep staying open to other points of view. Keep trying to love, be kind, understand. And above all keep seeking after God in all of this. Before I spout my oh so correct point of view on FaceBook and Instagram, I need to spend more time on my knees with God and at the supper table with someone who has a different point of view. Before I write Jacob off as young and too emotional I need to open my own heart before God and ask Him to “search me oh God and see if there be some wicked way in me.” There probably is. And there might be more grass under the deck of my Husqvarna!
NOTE: A few weeks ago, I began a project that I am calling “100 Voices.” My goal is to sit down with 100 people that look (and perhaps think) differently than me. I am recording a lot of it. I am writing about some of it. There may be some podcasts that come out of it. But mainly I am trying to listen, to learn, to spray under my deck and get some of the hidden gunk out. I am going to post some of the complete interviews on my podcast site, “What Difference Does That Make?” Today I posted the full interview with Sumatra Drayton, the conversation that sent me down this path. The interviews are posted unedited. The audio in some places is not the best. Sometimes we go off on tangents just for the fun of it, and so far in every conversation, God has pointed out some grass clumps to me. I am trying to get better. I invite you to go to the podcast and listen to some. I’ll post one or two a week until I don’t. Maybe God will teach us all something. “What Difference Does That Make?” then look for 100 Voices.