Sweet Are The Promises

sweet gum trees ice
Sweet Gum Tree, Ice

The masterminds of alienation are always the first to accuse their political challengers of division. Shining a light on the secrets and misdeeds of the political power class is the double-edged sword of truth that separates bone from marrow. It’s not pretty. As anyone who has ever cut up and deboned a chicken knows, it is gross. Sometimes, even bloody. But, the alternative to the immediate pain of this mess is denial, and this injures many, many more citizens over the long haul.

At night, I can’t sleep, as I am tortured by the greed and vanity that rules American politics; that which also rules over society. I have survived many bad things in my lifetime. Against all odds I have overcome terrible circumstances and events, but I wonder, as I toss and turn, if I can survive this. There is no office higher than truth-teller, and still I struggle with my own deafening silence.

Because, I know something.

Sometimes, we pray for the captive to be set free and he is released, and sometimes, we pray for the captive to be released and he is beheaded. I was raised a Protestant, but now attend the Catholic church. Whatever you think about that doesn’t matter, because I’m here to tell you there is very little difference between the sermons I heard in Nazarene and Baptist churches and the homilies I hear every Sunday at mass. If anything, the Catholic homilies are shorter, bolder and more cutting: “If you aren’t ministering to the poor, you are not a disciple of Jesus Christ.”  Period. No room for argument. And, truly there were saints, and among them Paul the Apostle. After all he gave for the cause of Christ, he was crucified upside down on a cross.

Is there a cause for which I’m willing to die? My life, at least in flesh, destroyed?

In the middle of the night I turn over and see the glowing green numbers of the digital clock. It is 3:33 a.m. There are no guarantees that if I live an honest life, tell the truth and walk in the ways of God that I will be rich and victorious. The gospel of earthly (as in financial) prosperity can’t be defended. It is bad theology. A complete and utter lie. Only the soul, which outlives and outshines human frailty, can be secured.

When I pondered all these things at 6 a.m., it was the words to this hymn, Sweet Are The Promises, I sang as a child that played through my mind.

List’ to His loving words, “Come unto Me,”

Weary, heavy laden there is sweet rest for thee;

Trust in His promises, faithful and sure;

Lean upon the Savior and thy soul is secure.”

From the Book of Mark

“Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop—some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown.” He said to them, “Do you bring in a lamp to put it under a bowl or a bed? Instead, don’t you put it on its stand? For whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open. If anyone has ears to hear, let them hear.”

Do you have a favorite promise?


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  1. john r. lord says

    It all depends on what your definstion of earthly sucess is. When it comes to G- D and the prostitutes in Washington, there is absolutely no comparison.

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