Rested, and Ready to Fight
“You restore my soul.” – Psalm 23:3
Late August begins the panic and dread that we have not enjoyed summer as much as we should have. We are exhausted before we’ve begun thinking of all the personal, professional, and familial responsibilities that await us when the great machine starts up again in September, not even counting our ‘job’ as Christians to fight for justice in the public realm.
Rev. Dr. William Barber II, the architect of the new Poor People’s Campaign first begun by Dr. King 50 years ago, came to my church last month. He did not get a summer vacation from the Lord’s work. He has a debilitating form of arthritis that causes him tremendous pain, and yet he crisscrosses the country daily to carry his message of hope and call to action. He regularly receives death threats—against himself, as well as his wife and five children. The man has every cause to be tired and cast down! And yet here is what he said to us:
“I get pessimistic. I’m not always optimistic. I’m hopeful because I’m required to be hopeful. There comes a time when you gotta stop mourning and pick yourself up. And if somebody ever tells me again that this is the worst we’ve ever seen in America. Worst?! You tired, and folk had to fight: 200 years against slavery, and 150 years against Jim Crow? You tired, and women had to fight like hell for the vote? We got the nerve to talk about TIRED? I’m tired of what I see happening, and I’m rested, and ready to FIGHT.”
I want to remind you of the restfulness that Emily Heath urged us to last month in this devotional: “Do the things that let you keep marching. Take the trip. Take the nap. Take pleasure in the joyful things you love…If we burn out now, in the early innings, the powers of oppression and death will prevail well before the game is over.”
With Bishop Barber’s pain and determination in mind, with Heath’s urge to observe the body’s need for repose and beauty, with summer slipping away, Beloved: REST. In all caps. Then get ready to fight.
God of Sabbath, help me rest. Then God of Compassion, wake me from slumber, ready to go. Amen.
You can join the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival at www.poorpeoplescampaign.org.