It is a term I keep coming back to as of late.
There are many different definitions out there but the one that seems to capture the meaning of this term best is someone who walks the walk and talks the talk.
I would say it is probably a fair statement that we are all desperately craving moral authority these days. Our hearts long to be led by someone whose spoken values and actions are in alignment for a collective good. We want someone who is for us-for our hopes, for our dreams, for the person we hope to one day become. We want someone who not only speaks for us but also acts for us. We want someone who knows our deepest fears and strongest hopes and yet leads in a way that aims to protect, guide, and nourish these precious interests.
As I have wrestled to implement moral authority as a value in both my personal life and professional life, I find I fail over and over again. I have my own agenda rooted in selfishness. I gossip. I stretch the truth. I avoid the truth. I ignore. I get distracted. I forget. I gloat. I disrespect. I judge. I covet. I could go on and on.
I do not intentionally want to do these things and yet on a moment-by-moment basis, I am broken by the struggle and my eyes are opened to the reality that this journey is and will continue to be an imperfect daily pursuit.
This past week has been rough. The pain and the fear people are feeling is so real. A story is attached to each fear. A memory associated with each anxiety about the future. And they are all relevant. Each emotion is valid.
Whatever side you may land on, there is a deep sense of unknown about what is to come.
As a Christ follower, it is easy to band aid this reality with cliché statements that when being honest, we know good and well they are helping no one but ourselves.
Yes, God is still in control. And yes, God is still good. So then why is there such a disconnect between these truths and the emotions our country is feeling right now?
It is so easy to forget…
I forget the wildness of God. I forget that He is a God of anger and judgment. I forget He sent His only son to die a criminal’s death. I forget He flooded this planet leaving only a few survivors. I forget the darkness of history and the sordid nature of the human soul. I forget that there are consequences both now and in the next life.
We are a broken people. We are imperfect. We are tainted beings in need of reckless grace. And we all live in the same dark world.
So where is the hope?
Psalm 139:23-24 has been a guide post in my life over the past 6 years. As someone who is bent towards evil and darkness, when I read these words for the first time, I was afraid. Afraid of what this prayer would do if implemented in my life.
I was afraid of the discomfort. I was afraid of the pain that would come in the wake of obedience. I was afraid He would answer…clearly and specifically.
This is a prayer for moral authority.
It was a prayer offered by King David. The same David who killed Goliath. The same David that has the lineage of Christ attached to his name. The same David that is noted as being a man after God’s own heart.
But also the same David that murdered. The same David that was an adulterer. The same David that committed direct and intentional sins against his God, his country, and the people he loved.
In short, this was David’s prayer:
Father, I want to point fingers. I want to judge others. I want revenge against those who have hurt me. But, Lord, right now, I ask you to search me. Point out the darkness. Bring to the forefront of my mind the mistakes, the actions, the deceit. Proactively examine me, Lord. For I know I am not perfect. Remind me.
Father, I think I know what is best, I think I know what the people need, I think I am aware of what change needs to happen, but Father, I know change begins first with me. So test me. Stretch me. Put me in situations where I will fail. Remind me of my utter dependence on you. Remind me how imperfect I am by how quickly I fail. By how quickly I let you down.
And as scared as I am to whisper this out loud, Father, lead me. Because God knows if I lead myself I will take the situation into my own hands. I will not remain in you. I will not abide. My sin is too strong and my pride is too deep. So, Father, if you will, take over. I know this path won’t be clear. I know I am going to mess up, but Father, I also know there is no other way.
So start with me. Whatever it takes. Search me. Change me. Lead me.
There is a repetitive theme throughout scripture: before God will raise someone up, He usually puts them through a long period of preparation. These waiting seasons for many were ones of intense turmoil and painful pruning. And almost every single time they began with a “search me prayer”…before anything else, the person had to be examined, and prepared.
I think God is calling a generation to step up. To speak up. But He’s God. And conventional is not in His character description. He is dichotomous in every way. He wants you to confront but not judge. He wants you to speak but not disrespect. He wants action soaked in complete surrender. He wants boldness but utter humility. He wants immediate obedience knowing full well you may never see the fruit of it.
So the question becomes are we willing to pray this prayer? Are we willing to turn our fear, our hurt, our despair, into a battle cry of: "But first, Lord...start with me."
We all want change but are we willing to prepare?
picture taken from: http://ftc.co/blog/posts/on-leadership-and-maintaining-moral-authority