Due to circumstances not for publication, a good bit of my weekend was spent taking a very real, very hard look at educational campus security. One conversation in particular sticks in my mind because as we solved each problem, a new problem arose. As we considered each new scenario, a dozen scenarios we had not considered arose. Eventually it became apparent the problem was excessively intractable, if not unsolvable. It certainly is not solvable to a level that would satisfy everyone in the room at the time.
The reason for this situation is a) the extraordinarily high levels of emotion right now – emotions that simply refuse to be placated in any reasonable fashion, and b) the real problem is evil – evil just will not be defeated by earthly, natural means.
The tenure of the Trump administration to date has been marked with an extraordinary level of uncontrollable disaster. Storm damage has battered the southeast. Wildfire has ravaged much of the west in ways not seen in my lifetime, and as I can see out my office window daily. And now random acts of human violence once again raise their ugly head. It begins to feel as if we are under assault.
We are forced by circumstance to come to terms with the futility of seeking security. Which in turn forces us to come to terms with our own limitations. Despite our intense desire to believe that human ingenuity is sufficient to the day, we have spent that last 14 months having human resiliency illustrated when our ingenuity proves insufficient. Glenn Reynolds pointed out in USA Today over the weekend that:
People are being asked to trust the government to keep them safe, when the government is patently unable to do so.
I think things far more fundamental than just politics are afoot. (Nod to Larry Arnn.)
How do you think the mighty Egyptians felt when God battered them with plague after plague trying to tell them to release the Israelites from captivity? Frogs, flies, boils and locusts are just the highlights of the natural disasters that visited the Empire of the Pharaohs. It was not until the firstborn were killed that in their grief the Egyptians began to get the message – but even then it did not hold. Eventually the Egyptians once again asserted their delusions of control and pursued the Israelites, resulting the great miracles of the Exodus. We are, if nothing else, tenacious in our desire to fail to hear God.
I will not go so far as to state that God is visiting the United States with plagues right now – but I will say that the difficulties that confront us create a unique opportunity for God’s voice to be heard.
The story of the Exodus is illustrative. The Israelites had nothing but the clothes on their back and yet they prevailed by hearing God. The Egyptians, the mighty Egyptians, relied on that might and failed – their ingenuity, the ingenuity that built the great ancient monuments of Egypt that we marvel at still today, was insufficient.
This is a time for listening. This is a time for facing up to the fact that our ingenuity is insufficient. This is a time to cease striving for security. This is a time to lift up our eyes to the hills.