Let me not pray to be sheltered from dangers,
but to be fearless in facing them.
Let me not beg for the stilling of my pain,
but for the heart to conquer it.

- Rabindranath Tagore

Inspirational Music

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Like a Freight Train

I just got home from Gravity which is a 20 minute centering prayer gathering. The point is to quiet your mind and the world and listen to God. The word that came to me and that I focused on was justice. I remembered the scripture in the Old Testament that said something about justice being like a mighty river. My mind danced around that idea for most of the time trying to form thoughts and a lot of them were great, but when I came back to the idea that God claims to be just, I tried to understand what that really means in light of all the terrible suffering inflicted on innocents worldwide. Needless to say I didn't get very far in this thinking. I did, however, think about what the comparison to a river meant. I thought about what a river is and how it follows a path with great force. What came to me next was just before we ended but I wish to explore it as a similar analogy. Is justice not unlike a freight train as well? It has the characteristics of a river that came to mind when I thought about the traits of a river.

In any case, when I got home I looked up the scripture about the river and it is Amos 5:24:

But let justice roll on like a river,
    righteousness like a never-failing stream!
    your assemblies are a stench to me.22 Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings,
    I will not accept them.
Though you bring choice fellowship offerings,
    I will have no regard for them.23 Away with the noise of your songs!
    I will not listen to the music of your harps.24 But let justice roll on like a river,
    righteousness like a never-failing stream!"
An endless procession of righteous living, living"

New International Version

I then looked around it a little and realized that it was the same verses that Jon Foreman is referencing in his song "Instead of a Show:"

Amos 5:21-24 says:

“I hate, I despise your religious festivals;

English Standard Version

This is God speaking directly to His people. He gets to the root of His desire for His people, not pretense or a show but a powerful community bringing justice into this world like a freight train. Jesus died to free us from the things that oppressed us and kept us from being vessels that could not only hold this justice but continuously pour it out into this world. Jon Foreman translated these verses this way:

"Instead let there be a flood of justice

In seeking to live righteously, we are called to flood the world with an ocean of justice and hope. In being redeemed, we are being freed from the corruption in our natures that stifles the love we've been shown and stops up the river like a dam. So in a way, its all about personal righteousness, and in another, the purpose of seeking righteousness is to bear the image of God more brightly and be used by Him to bring His kingdom into this world with force.

I'm still, in the back of my mind, contemplating the river analogy and how it illuminates the nature of justice. Does it mean that it is flowing right now, certainly. Does it mean it's finished, hardly. I guess I think of a train on its way across a country. One of these days, it will arrive in the station and we will see God's justice manifested perfectly. Until then, like the prophet Micah made very clear and succinct:

He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, and to love kindness and mercy, and to humble yourself and walk humbly with your God?

Micah 6:8 Amplified Bible
In seeking to do these things together we are the river of His justice, shaping the land for His purposes and His kingdom.

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