Everyone I speak to at the moment is feeling the weight of what is happening around us: Covid. Economic uncertainty. The continual battle against corruption, injustice, racism and gender based violence. Our legacy of years and years of oppression, greed, wide-spread dehumanizing and pain.
And now our country is literally burning. It feels like so much of our country, our infrastructure, our economy and people’s lives are in ruins.
We have to open our eyes to reality. This is not actually something new.
The situation our country now faces is something that has always been there. Many citizens of this beautiful nation of ours face these issues on a daily basis. They are hungry, homeless, jobless, living under the stress of institutionalized poverty and having to protect themselves from gang violence crossfire and lawlessness. However, society at large so often ignores this, rationalizes it through debate and hides away in our relative comfort and security.
This time we can’t.
Which is awful and painful. It is terrifying and shocking how things have escalated and how palpable the fear and worry is.
However, I also believe this is good because we cannot continue to ignore what is happening and continues to happen in our country on a daily basis.
Something has to be done. Something has to change. We, individually, and as a people have to change.
The big question is HOW?!
There is so much fear, anger, hurt and division…
How on earth could we ever move to a better place? To a space where people from all tribes and tongues will be welcomed at the banquet table and have a fair share?
I don’t know the practical answers. The problems are too systemic and too big for my little brain to comprehend, but I do know one thing. We need Jesus.
There are two scriptures that keep coming to mind as I press into the pain of all that’s happening. My own pain. My friends and family’s pain. Of my country’s pain.
2 Chronicles 7:13 – 14
13 ‘When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, 14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.
These scriptures lead me to believe that we need to repent. We need to lament and we desperately need to pray. We need to humbly come before Jesus and seek him. We need to ask him to renew us. To change our hearts.
We can all point fingers. Blame them. Whoever “them” or “they” are supposed to be. However, let’s be real for a moment. The problem actually lies within each one of us.
Me. You. Everyone.
We ALL need Jesus to clean us and give us new hearts. Hearts of flesh. Hearts that love like Jesus does. We all need the Holy Spirit to be our true guide and transform us from the inside out so that we can keep God’s law: To love the Lord your God with everything we have and are, and love our neighbour as we love ourselves.
This song, Ruins, was written as I reflected on the series we went through at CHS called Christ and Culture which looked at some of the systemic issues we face in South Africa such as racism and gender based violence. (Click the link to see the series: https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLXy4DkZW8WSRE32GBC62kiQ0QOGJmuSo_)
I wrote the song as I wrestled with my own difficulties reconciling the victim in me with the perpetrator that also lies within me.
I have been sexually assaulted, judged, robbed and abused. Yet I know that although what I do is often more subtle, I have that same capacity in me. I can use my power and privilege to exploit others, I can ignore someone else’s pain for my own convenience and I can be silent as I watch brothers and sisters continuously struggle under the burdens of economic oppression and continued injustice.This truth is made most obvious in how I treat my children. I love them dearly and yet even with them I can use my power, my words, my actions in a way that definitely does not come from a place of love but a place of selfishness, just like every other human parent in the world.
This song is my way of coming before God and laying it all down – the pain, confusion, hurt, frustration and sorrow – and acknowledging my own role in the mess that we live in.
I do feel that God gave this song to me for this time as a call for us to collectively come to him.
I choose to put my hope in God’s promises.
I hope it helps. I hope it inspires you to be real before Jesus and really come laying it all down in desperate acknowledgement that we need Him. I hope that it inspires you to trust him and allow him to work in your heart. To change our hearts of stone to ones that are made of flesh. To trust that he is at work even in these times.
He can take our burning, broken country and in his grace, mercy and love somehow work a miracle and bring about his life and restoration and the change can start with me.
What is he calling me and you to do? How are we going to respond to his call to walk humbly, act justly and love with mercy?
33 ‘“This is what the Sovereign Lord says: on the day I cleanse you from all your sins, I will resettle your towns, and the ruins will be rebuilt. 34 The desolate land will be cultivated instead of lying desolate in the sight of all who pass through it. 35 They will say, ‘This land that was laid waste has become like the garden of Eden; the cities that were lying in ruins, desolate and destroyed, are now fortified and inhabited.’ 36 Then the nations around you that remain will know that I the Lord have rebuilt what was destroyed and have replanted what was desolate. I the Lord have spoken, and I will do it.”