July 18, 2021
It felt like a pretty big deal a year and a half ago when Annie and I bought a house. Until then, both of us had only ever been renters, and there is a big mental shift that happens when you go from renting to owning your home. I was never that meticulous about landscaping until we owned a place, and I felt a much deeper sense of responsibility when things happened, like the furnace going out or the toilet getting clogged. And it wasn’t just feeling invested in the place; there was a real sense of feeling settled, where renting always felt temporary.
So maybe it was this feeling that David had when he moved into his palace in Jerusalem, his kingdom at peace, his home secure, and he looked out on the old tent of God across the hill. He had a permanent place to call home. His palace was solid, with stone foundations and cedar plank walls. It was a really nice house and, more importantly, it was stable. Shouldn’t God have that sense of settlement too? Shouldn’t God have at least as much as he, the King, had?
July 11, 2021
A few years ago, I got the opportunity to visit Washington, DC for a preaching conference. If you’ve never been, it’s quite the city, with huge sidewalks that make walking everywhere super easy (which is helpful because the traffic is awful), and stately buildings that make it look like someone transplanted it from Europe. It’s a genuinely beautiful city, with parks and gardens everywhere, and a super easy-to-navigate subway system. But even more than those features, the thing that sticks out about DC is the number of monuments, memorials, and museums.
Our nation’s capital, like any capital around the world, is like a great big depository for all the important things about ourselves. The Smithsonian Museum covers everything from archaeology to music; the monuments valorize huge figures from our past; the memorials remind us of all the people who shaped our country in big and small ways. And we’ve put all those things there, because DC, as the capital, exists to give us a shared place to name what’s important to us all.
July 4, 2021
A few years back, my mom was out running errands. Ordinarily, she would drive her car, but it was having issues so she was borrowing my dad’s car for the day. She told me this story of how she stopped somewhere to get things, and because she was just running in to get a couple small things, she didn’t want to bring in her purse, so she left it in the car and locked the door. The problem was, she had left the keys in her purse, now locked inside the car. It wouldn’t have been a problem, but unlike her car, my dad’s car doesn’t prevent the car from locking when the keys are still inside. The other problem was that she also left her phone in her purse.
Well, after trying to call him from the store phone—and him ignoring those calls because he didn’t recognize the number—she finally turned to a friendly looking stranger, explained to her the situation, and asked if this woman would give her a ride home, which they gladly agreed to. That afternoon, despite everything, my mom was completely and entirely dependent upon the kindness of strangers to get home.
Dependence on others is hard. Hundreds of thousands of Americans experienced the difficulty of admitting they needed the help of others during the pandemic, when so many people lost jobs and food pantries had to work overtime to provide for needy families. Relying on others is a kind of vulnerability that we—especially so as Americans—really don’t like. As much as we appreciate the help of others, I don’t think a lot of us really enjoy depending on the goodwill of other people.