I’m driving the same route I travel every single morning. Ten minutes to the elementary school, ten minutes back home. The big kids are chatting in the backseat, and the little one is surprisingly quiet.
I turn onto the two lane country road—at least that’s what I call it. It still feels country to me. Stretches of nothing flank either side, but I know it won’t stay that way for long.
I love this road. It’s one of the few places left in this suburban town where cows graze in open fields. Quiet and serene, it’s my favorite part of my morning drive.
Today I smell a fire burning.
I’m not alarmed; I’m curious. With awakened senses, I strain my eyes to try and find the fire itself. Then I notice what I’ve missed every single morning since school began back in August.
I see a small white cross and think about the family who lost someone precious right here on this quiet road. A huge log wider than a telephone pole lays sideways in the ditch further down. I have no idea why it’s there.
Trash collects to the left and to the right of this strip of road. Plastic bags and paper carried off by the wind settle into hidden crevices. I’m overcome by the signs of brokenness all around me.
Sometimes, it’s easier to notice beauty than recognize brokenness.
One week later, I inhale that same smell. The election has ended but the conflict continues. The intensity of emotion I thought would fade hasn’t. Another fire burns somewhere nearby.
Ugliness and brokenness exist outside of and all around me, especially today. Yet the Spirit of God is begging me to notice the brokenness and ugliness within my own crippled heart.
Rather than search outside, this morning tears flow as I search within. I take accusatory fingers that point outward, and I lace them together tightly and pray.
As I begin to notice my own heart, it unravels me. I remember Jesus’ words I read in Revelation this morning before the sun announced a new day.
“I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have found your deeds unfinished in the sight of my God. Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; hold it fast, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you.”
Revelation 3:1-3 (emphasis added)
I take note of relationships that appear to thrive on the surface yet I know are dangerously close to dying. I ask God to help me with that log in my eye, and I wonder how long it’s been obstructing my view.
My cluttered heart has allowed selfishness and entitlement to crowd out the work of God. And I’m reminded of my great need for Jesus here on this two lane country road with a car full of children learning to follow my lead.
Sometimes, it’s easier to be complacent than repentant.
Eyes are windows into hearts so maybe heart change begins with seeing differently, with noticing. The smell of thick, heavy smoke compelled me a week ago to look around intentionally, and today, it’s the fire I cannot see that quickens my spirit within.
Hope for our nation does not reside in the White House. Hope resides in human hearts, because Hope is alive, and His name is Jesus. We need revival to sweep through this country like wildfire.
Unity and peace aren’t our first steps. Repentance is first. Repentance is always first. Peace and unity follow.
Revival begins with repentance.
Awakening begins here. In me. In you. It starts with honesty and confession. Words like they and them become we and us. It starts with noticing what’s inside of us and begging God to change us.
I whisper a prayer that feels urgent and necessary and costly. Hope leads the way. Care to join me today? There’s plenty of ground to share as we hit our knees together.
Forgive us, Jesus.
We need you in the worst way. Spark a fire here inside and awaken us.
Help us recognize how pride and entitlement and complacency have blinded us. Open our eyes. Make us aware of what needs healing within our hearts. Show us where our footing is all wrong as we travel this narrow path.
Show us where the world hurts, and give us courage to hurt right alongside. Help us to reach far outside comfort zones to what exists outside our understanding.
We confess that much of the ugliness begins here in our own hearts. Remind us of the beauty of Your grace and forgiveness. Cover us with Your love.
Build Your kingdom here on earth.