I headed to the gym early this morning with Romans 8:31 on my mind:
"If God is for us, who can be against us?"
As I let the treadmill dictate the slope necessary to get my cardio peaked out, I looked up at the wall of monitors streaming morning news updates from at least three different stations. Troops back to Iraq. A driver identified in the death of young mom. Tornadoes that ripped through Nebraska, taking two human lives.
Watching my heart rate rise, I said to God, "What am I supposed to do? What effect can I have on this pain and chaos in our world?" Truth is, I'm praying for God's hand to move within my own family. We all have our personal "prayer lists" of things we're believing God to act on. But, Nebraska? What can I do? The other side of the planet?
I felt small. Insignificant. And it didn't take long until the focus was on me.
How'd that happen? These stories aren't about me; they're about other people. And now I'm back to me? Really?
"Ok, God, what are you supposed to do? How are you going to intervene? How long does this chaos and injustice and pain go on? What about the boys and wife who lost their dad and husband last week? What about the woman who called yesterday, looking for anyone to understand the pain of her wrecked marriage?"
So, as I felt my heart rate climb, I asked again - maybe rhetorically - but I asked, "What am I supposed to do?"
Now the truth is - there's plenty for me to do. Right where I am. I can pray. I can come alongside people I know. I can support others who are hands-on, using their gifts and skills to help.
But there's another truth here. It's about that part that keeps coming back to me. That part of me that wants to tell God how He should act. That part that wants someone else to do something about all the brokenness. That part of me that attempts to exercise control in my own family in inappropriate ways. There's a truth I have to reckon with about that part of me that wants to grip my life tightly, making sure it all comes together the way I think it should.
If God is for me, who can be against me?
Sometimes I'm against me. Working desperately to be and do. Trying harder. Lost in the chaos of a broken world, scrambling for control of anything and risking hurting the people around me I love most.
Henri Nowen put it this way:
It seems easier to be God, than to love God.
Easier to control people, than to love people.
Easier to own life, than to love life.
So, today, I will again choose to follow Jesus' teaching and love Him with everything in me and my neighbor as myself. Whether my neighbor is on the couch next to me in my home or my neighbor has no home because it was ripped away.
And I will live in the wonder and power of the rhetorical question Paul first asked: "God, if you're for me... and you are... who can be against me?"
That should keep my heart rate up.