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Remember to Please God

by Rev. Brenda Girton-Mitchell

We have had a lot of time to reflect on our lives in these last several months.  Our daily routines have been uprooted.  The cries for justice grow louder with each instance of brutal, life-taking crimes against humanity. We have witnessed an unbelievable election season. As believers, we know God did not promise us a life without challenges, but many of us are standing on shaky, tear-filled ground trying to figure out a way forward. The continuing loss of life of men and women at the hand of law enforcement coupled with the COVID 19 pandemic and a host of political frustrations,  has cast a bright light on the dark reality that systemic racism impacts every area of our lives. The trauma around us is breath-taking. We find ourselves asking what we can do. 

A sign of Christian maturity is how we handle whatever comes our way.  Micah 6 offers some relevant encouragement even though some of the distress is self-imposed by the people.  

 A reading of Micah 6:3-5, the New Living Translation , reveals the Lord is upset with His people, 

O my people, what have I done that makes you turn away from me? Tell me why your patience is exhausted! Answer me! For I brought you out of Egypt and cut your chains of slavery. I gave you Moses, Aaron, and Miriam to help you. Don’t you remember, O my people, how Balak, king of Moab, tried to destroy you through the curse of Balaam, son of Beor, but I made him bless you instead? That is the kindness I showed you again and again. Have you no memory at all of what happened at Acacia and Gilgal and how I blessed you there?”

The people have an “aha” moment in verse 6 and express their regret by asking what they can do to make amends to the Lord.

“How can we make up to you for what we’ve done?” you ask. “Shall we bow before the Lord with offerings of yearling calves?” Oh no! For if you offered him thousands of rams and ten thousands of rivers of olive oil—would that please him? Would he be satisfied? If you sacrificed your oldest child, would that make him glad? Then would he forgive your sins? Of course not!

No, he has told you what he wants, and this is all it is: to be fair, just, merciful, and to walk humbly with your God.

The Lord reminded Israel of the ways he has acted toward them, the ways he had shown love and kindness toward them and challenged them to do the same toward  others. God presents us the same challenge today. 

What does justice look like in the midst of the systemic racism that is woven throughout every institution in our society? George Floyd’s murder and all of the other hashtag killings and abuses of black men and women, COVID19 and all the inequities that are highlighted in health care, essential workers, education,  and the election process, have driven people to their knees to pray and to protest. 

Just as a physician can’t help a sick patient until there is a diagnosis of illness, we have to name the sin of racism to begin to treat the problem.  The nation is now an open book and the 1619 Project, the Pan- African Devotional, and hundreds of other resources have become tools to aid in telling the true story of America’s History. 

I had an experience with God early in my adult life that still sticks with me today. My prayers had become pretty routine and very repetitious. Dear God, thank you for another day. Thank you for my family, food on our table, a job friends… now God please take handle my problems and I would share a list, please handle their problems and I would make a list. I politely continued,  “God please  do this and please  do that.” Sometimes I was in real begging mode and I heard God say to me in my spirit – Brenda stop! Stop it. Stop just saying “please, please God” and act in ways that please God. it is a constant reminder that I am called, we are called to be agents for God and our goal must be to do what please God. 

It pleases God when we use our voices to speak up for what is right.
It pleases God when we exercise the right to vote.
It pleases God when we remember and practice the Golden Rule. 
It pleases God when we seek his advice in all of our decisions.
It pleases God when we seek to be a light in dark places. 
It pleases God when we when obey his word.   

Pleasing God requires us to:

 Do Justice – get involved.

Love Kindness – care about others.

And whatever assignment God gives you, walk humbly with God as you serve.  

Dear God, as we face the circumstances in our lives, help us to remember what you have done, what you are doing and what you are able to do. God, we present ourselves as agents in service to you. You fought for justice and so must we. Lead, guide and direct us so that everything we do is pleasing in your sight. Amen

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