If contemporary culture is thought to be fast and loud then someone has pushed the fast-forward and volume buttons up a notch or two during this election season. The blur caused by speed and the din of so much noise often distorts our take on things. And, I suppose it will all ramp up over the next two weeks when television ads kick into high gear and the campaign teams orchestrate their final appeals. It all spells chaos for attention-deficit and selective hearing Americans. How to extract rational sense from the clamor may be a significant exercise for the next couple of weeks.
The Corinthians were dealing with confusion over the issue of glossolalia, what moderns call speaking in tongues. So, the Apostle Paul wrote to them to provide clarity about the passionate emotions that the tongues issue stirred in their faith community. Evidently it was sweeping quick controversy into the congregation and creating a lot of noise and confusion. 1 Corinthians 14 is the Apostle's response to their questions. It's all solid counsel on such a divisive issue. But, one sentence has been a crossover lesson for me, that is, truth that extends beyond the immediate question and touches just about everything I do. He wrote---
If the bugle gives and indistinct sound, who will be ready to battle?
1 Corinthians 14:8, ESV
The battle reference invokes a familiar New Testament theme, the military traits of a good soldier---watchfulness, obedience, preparedness, , standing one's post, and others. In this instance Paul reminded them of the ancient battle strategy of sounding the commanders orders. The bugler had to produce a clear, identifiable sound so the platoon or company could identify the formation. I can close my eyes and visualize John Wayne leading his troops in scenes from movies like She Wore a Yellow Ribbon under the distinct call of the bugler. It had to be clear because of the noise and dust and confusion of battle.
Much of the truth about this coming election has been obscured by all of the hype that attends politics in the information age. Moment by moment we're bombarded by the metrics of political positioning, accusations, distortions, exaggerations, and outright lies. Sorting through the mess is a challenge for even our most informed neighbors. Two weeks out many of us are in the undecided category. As a result, I'm praying for clarity in the run-up to November 6. This prayer for clarity will move in several obvious personal directions. They include---
1. Clarity of vision.
2. Clarity of values.
3. Clarity about my personal prejudices and biases.
4. Clarity about the status of our nation.
5. Clarity about my personal responsibility.
There's no absolute clarity about the order in which these will be addressed this week but I know it will be clear as I pray and seek God's guidance. Of course, the prayers for humility, wisdom, and knowledge will continue and overlay the process.
Speaking of clarity I'm reminded of Job and his personal struggles to comprehend and accept the tragedies that Satan brought to his life. In a memorable passage he cried out to God for clarity---
Today also my complaint is bitter; my hand is heavy on account of my groaning. Oh, that
I knew where I might find him, that I might come even to his seat! I would lay my case
before him and fill my mouth with arguments. I would know what he would answer me
and understand what he would say to me. Would he contend with me in the greatness of
his power? No; he would pay attention to me.
Job 23:1-6, ESV
His litany of comments and questions continued for several chapters. The spiritual counselors alongside of him provided further confusion as he grappled with such momentous loss and suffering. Job Chapters 38-41 provides God's answers to him, just as Job had predicted in 23:6. Jobs final confession affirms the clarity God provided. Finally Job said---
I know that you can do all things and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. ‘Who is
this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not
understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. ‘Hear, and I will speak; I
will question you, and you make it known to me.’ I had heard of you by the hearing of the
ear, but now my eye sees you.
Job 42:1-5, ESV
The sentence, "and you make it known to me" is a key marker for clarity in the ways of God. Here Job learned the lesson that Jeremiah eventually spoke to the exiled nation of Israel---
You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.
Jeremiah 29:13, ESV
Confused? Unclear about what to do in this election? I'm convinced that the obscurity of our decisions right now is the result of not seeking him for clarity. Let's seek him with all of our hearts so he can direct us to clarity in these mystifying times. I really need his guidance as I navigate the hype.