A Lesson for Wednesday- Not Tuesday: A Lesson about Opening and Closing
Tuesday is the day we elect a president and other officials to serve and govern our country for the next four years or longer. So this lesson is not about Tuesday, the election is by this time all over but the shouting. This lesson is about Wednesday when we wake up.
I want to talk to you about openings and closings. I want to talk to you about Wednesday rather than Tuesday.
Jesus told John to write these words: “These are the words of Him who is Holy and True, who holds the key of David. What He opens no one can shut and what He shuts no one can open.” (Revelation 3: 7) The Word of God will endure forever. Although our culture wants it closed, it cannot be. Keys are used to open and lock doors. Jesus said to the disciples ‘I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven’. The key is to believe the Word of God. Those who do not believe, the door will be locked. But Jesus stands and knocks at the door, and if anyone invites Him in – He will come in and fellowship with you and you with Him. He promises to never leave you or forsake and that nothing can separate you from His love.
When we open a book, the voice of the author speaks to us. When I read a Charles Stanley book, I can hear Charles Stanley’s voice. When you read my book or read my notes, you hear my voice. When Gina read my book, she loved every word of it. Why? Two reasons: she was in the book and she loved the author of the book and the author loved her and told her so.
When we open a book, regardless of what type it is, the authors have a story to tell. In their story, he/she will always have an agenda and will want to influence you with their voice. They will want to persuade you, whether it is fiction, history, science, and business, theology, motivational- to hear their persuasion as to how life is understood. We are living in an over communicated, world of babble and nonsense. Every day we hear the voices of this world which want us to understand what makes life worth living. Yet God has told us, ‘to obey all His law and not turn to the right or left, that you may be successful wherever you go.’ (Joshua 1) Yet our culture has divided us to the right and left!
When we open the Word of God, we hear the voice of the author, Almighty God. I love this book, because I love the author and He loves me. I am also in this book, and this book tells me the absolute truth of how life is understood. It is here you will discover the story of life and what is all about. Macbeth said, ‘life is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury.’ I discovered without God life is meaningless. This is why I open my Bible every single morning to hear the voice of the One who loves me and gave Himself for me. He and He alone tells me how life is to be understood.
But we now realize- this book has been closed in the public arena- we are told not to open it in the public school, the public debate, in our businesses or at our workplace. We are told if we believe this book to be absolute truth, we are foolish. Yet Paul said he was a’ fool for Christ.’ And God chooses the foolish to confound the wise.
I want to tell you a story about a woman who opened something everyone told her to keep closed. They told her it would cause heartache, trouble, division and even harm. She said that is exactly what was needed and why it had to be opened.
This true story takes place in 1955 in two very different places. In Chicago and in a small rural town of 400 people in Mississippi. A town called, Money, Ms. A young black boy of 14 years old from Chicago was visiting his cousins in Mississippi. His tales of Chicago had them amazed. He had a new billfold which came with a picture of a white girl in it. He showed them this picture and said she was his girlfriend. He bragged how he dated white girls. His cousins could not believe what he was saying. They went to a local grocery store. It was owned by a family who had three of these stores and on this fateful day, goaded by his cousins, young Emmett Till went into this grocery store and flirted with the 21 year-old white woman whose husband’s family owned these three grocery stores. She was so enraged; she went to get a pistol out of her car to scare him away. Young Till ‘wolf-whistled’ at her as they ran away, laughing.
Two nights later her husband and his brother took Emmett Till out of his uncle’s house after threatening him with death. They beat Emmett Till with a fury fueled by hatred. They shot him the head, then tied a fan blade from a large fan in a cotton gin around his neck with barbed wire and threw him in the Tallahatchie River. Three days later his bloated corpse was discovered.
The local sheriff after identifying him had him embalmed and placed in a sealed coffin and shipped to his mother in Chicago. She opened the casket and saw with horror what they had done to her little boy. The funeral home did the best they could, but advised her to have a closed coffin. She said NO. She wanted it open and she wanted everyone to see what had been done. Open the casket she said, although, family and loved ones an even the police said it would create problems, heartache and even riots.
She said it will be opened and no one will close it. Thousands came to view with horror what had happened. Jet magazine published the now famous photograph. Three months later Rosa Parks who like all Afro-Americans in the South and the country had seen this photograph and refused to give up her seat on the bus. The Civil Rights movement was born and Martin Luther King would become their spokesman, but a grieving mother in Chicago started it, when she opened what everyone said must stay closed.
The two men were acquitted. In 1956, knowing they could not be tried again for this crime, they agreed to an interview with Life magazine and confessed they had killed the boy and had no guilt or remorse at all. They gloried in their shame.
Today, the Bible is closed in the public arena, in our schools, in our businesses, in our workplace in the public debate and society.
We face an election in two days. Almost everyone agrees the two candidates at the top are flawed. They are both scary for different reasons. One is scary for what he has said and how he has said it. He is scary because he is an unknown. He does not weigh his words. The other is scary because of what we do know. And she carefully weighs her words.
God will give us what we deserve at this time. It will either be a blessing or a judgment and only time will tell. But here is what I know will occur on Wednesday morning.
50% of the country will be elated and 50% will be devastated. And whoever is elected, I believe God had allowed it, if not engineered it. They will rule over a country more divided than it has been since the Civil War. I have told you politics are a lagging indicator of the culture and society we live in. You will have to look past the two flawed candidates to the platforms on which they stand. They will tell us where we are as a nation and what we want opened and closed.
But here is what I know: we must open the Word of God in the public arena. We must open our mouths and speak the truth in love with gentleness and respect.
We must open the casket on sin and sins. We must open it, although the voices of society are telling us to keep them shut.
I am not that concerned about the economy. History tells us recessions will come and go as a way of correction.
I am not that concerned about terrorist, as we have more Americans killing Americans that terrorist killing them.
I am concerned the laws of this land reflect something more terrifying.
They are laws which declare the right of women to take the life of the unborn. When science and the Bible agree, life begins at conception.
There are laws which are attacking our families by redefining marriage. By making it a civil right. I like what Ben Carson said, ‘how dare you compare your sin to my skin.’ By practicing our faith and speaking the truth in love, we can be accused of violating their civil rights.
I believe any person has the right to live their lives any way they want to. Those who practice sexual immorality have the right to practice it. But when they ask us to celebrate it and accept it as good- what message does this send to my grandchildren? How confused are they going to be, especially when the Word of God is closed, not opened. Is ridiculed rather that revered.
Wednesday – will we be nailing the casket on the word of God and closing it & locking it? Or will we have a chance to open it. I know the One who has the key. And He can open what no man can shut and He can shut what no man can open, including the mouth of the roaring lion which seeks to devour our culture, our nation and our families. We are living in an alien nation. We must live and engage and influence as did Nehemiah, Esther and Daniel, Shadrach and Abendego.
Here is what we must do, and I thank Ravi Zacharias for his input and calm wisdom:
“But alas! Let us not lose heart. I always bank on the heartfelt prayer of God’s people. Ultimately, He will overrule and bring about what He deems we need the most for this hour. Whether it is a blessing or judgment, time will tell.”
Ravi continues: “I fly a lot and spend time thinking on the blessings and risks of air travel. I heard a flight instructor training a young pilot on what to do in an emergency to conserve power and glide to a safe landing. ‘At the last moment, turn the lights on and if you like what you see, land. What if I don’t like what I see? Asked the student pilot. Then turn the lights off, said the instructor. ‘
That seems to be the feelings we get right now. I’m afraid. Everyone I talk to has their fears whichever side they are on. The want to turn the lights out. But….there is another way to look at it, using the same analogy. I am told that when a pilot in a private plane runs into trouble, he has to live by the Four C’s:
Communicate with the Controller.
Comply with His instructions.
That’s the code I am following. I am speaking my heart out to the Lord and am at peace that He will do His will. I will put my head down on my pillow on Tuesday night and wake up to the promise that He is in charge. He can change the heart of a king (or queen). My life is in my Lord’s hands, however daunting the glimpse of what lies ahead.
Years ago, Senator Jeremiah Denton, a one-time Vietnam POW, wrote of the crucifixion of Jesus from Mary’s perspective as she watched in horror:
“Her face shows grief but not despair, Her head, though bowed, had faith to spare. And even now she could suppose His thorns would somehow yield a rose. Her life with Him was full of signs that God writes straight in crooked lines. Dark clouds can hide the rising sun and all seems lost, when all is won!”
History moves in pendular swings. God’s clock is keeping perfect time. Let’s be calm, let’s climb high, let’s commune with the Lord, and comply with His instructions. None of us can accelerate the march of history but with His lights on the terrain ahead, we can make a safe landing.”
I love that particular line in Jeremiah Denton’s poem: “God writes straight in crooked lines.” I believe we are in those times of crooked lines which as yet do not appear straight. These are the times to which Jesus referred when on the night of the Last Supper Jesus said, “You do not realize what I am doing, but later you will understand.” (John 13)
These are the dark moments in life, (which even Jesus endured) which will last only as long as necessary for God to accomplish His purpose in us.
The light on your path is His Word. It will guide you. It is the key which will open what no man can shut and close what no one can open.