When life takes the wind out of your sails, go to Chicago.
That’s what I did. In 1997, I was 26 and newlywed when my husband and I moved to the Windy City. My mother had died less than a year before. I was awash in grief, living 13 hours away from home, cloistered in a 35th-floor apartment, spending much of my time alone. Imagine a low-budget production of Lost in Translation set in America without Bill Murray.
I paced the streets. Trudged up and down Michigan Avenue, walking and waiting for something, anything, to strike me. Hit me. Wrestle me back to life.
The Moody Church
One Sunday not long after we’d moved, my husband and I ventured into the historic Dwight L. Moody Memorial Church at Clark and LaSalle. That day I heard Dr. Erwin Lutzer talk about grief and heaven and what was to come when we died. He was preaching the sermon series that inspired the book One Minute After You Die.
Coincidence? I think not. This. This was where I needed to be. For our remaining 18 months in Chicago, we treasured our time at that church listening to that preacher. And we learned songs I hadn’t sung before.
A mighty fortress is our God. A bulwark never failing;
Yes, I know. It’s a textbook hymn of the faith written by Martin Luther. The churches where I was raised sang praise songs. Fine, scriptural praise songs. To my detriment, Luther and his brave, abiding words had been kicked to the curb.
Not in Chicago. There we sang Martin Luther and Charles Wesley, Walter Chalmers Smith, Samuel Trevor Francis, and Horatio Spafford. And we began to learn how to stand. When you’ve done all you can do, when there’s nothing left, when no one seems able to help—to stand. It’s a lesson I’m still learning today.
Our Helper He amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing.
Barack Obama was in Chicago the same time I lived there. We must have walked the same streets, felt the same icy wind blow across Lake Michigan. I wonder, did we eat in the same restaurants? Unknowingly, did our paths cross at the Harold Washington Library stop in the Loop? What different experiences we must have had in the City of Big Shoulders. How much has changed since then.
Fast forward to this week. The status updates on my Facebook feed tell the tale. So many people are hurting from the results of this past Tuesday’s election. They’re afraid. Disappointed. Confused. Awash in grief. Unable to understand the bent of the electorate and the heart of the President.
Did God forget the unborn Tuesday? Does He no longer care about them or their parents? Did He change His mind about stealing? Is taking something that belongs to someone else now fair and just in His eyes? Perhaps He is disappointed with His flock. In anger, has He disowned American believers struggling in a culture that careens toward destruction?
Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also—
There were calls to move to the middle. Move to the right. Establish a third party. Ban evangelicals. And then there was this from a pastor friend:
“Whether the election results leave you euphoric or stricken, let’s remember that whoever holds political power in America, the Lord holds sovereign power everywhere. He says, ‘By me kings reign and rulers decree what is just.’ Again, ‘The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD; he directs it wherever he pleases.’ (Prov. 8:15, 21:1)”
Today the wind rushes across the Kansas prairie as powerfully as it whips through the concrete canyons of Chicago. It caresses the waters of Savannah just like it rocks the waves off Santa Barbara. It flies over the hill country of Texas with the same intensity it batters the ravaged and bustling streets of New York. We cannot tell where it comes from or where it’s going. But God knows.
This is a time to stand. Actively trust God and rest in Him. Examine ourselves, confess sin, and be restored. Return to the certainty of the Word that does not change with political pressure.
March fearlessly into the future of America, knowing that come judgment or prosperity, God Himself has ordained it. He will not desert His own.
The body they may kill; God’s truth abideth still: His kingdom is forever!
Our fight is not with people. It is against the leaders and the powers and the spirits of darkness in this world. It is against the demon world that works in the heavens. Because of this, put on all the things God gives you to fight with. Then you will be able to stand in that sinful day. When it is all over, you will still be standing. Ephesians 6:12-13 NLV
What helps you to stand?