A national crisis like we’ve experienced in recent days has rippling effects that will probably never be fully understood. But one such effect worth noting is this: History has come into the present. As rioters stormed into the capital, I actually said out loud, “We are watching history.”
The truth is, I realized later, we aren’t just watching. We are living it. History is usually experienced at arm’s length, something distant, something remote. Even looking at pictures of yourself at last year’s Christmas seem like you’re looking like an earlier version of yourself. That’s because you are. That’s how history works.
But when planes slam into towers, or a president is assassinated in his motorcade, or a space shuttle explodes, history is more than a snapshot in an album, it’s a shared, timeless experience. It’s a moment nothing short of momentus, never to be forgotten, and you’re a part of it. You’re history.
It’s a strange thing, realizing that right now will be a noticeable mark on your personal timeline, and most other people’s as well. The strange awareness that unfolding events will be a significant notation on your permanent record, so to speak, can leave you disoriented.
Even before we can fully process our thoughts, feelings, and actions related to an attack on the seat of our government, there’s a queasy dawning that some things will change now. Maybe national monuments will have more security. Maybe political parties will go through upheaval. On a more personal level, maybe you will be a little less trusting. Maybe you will speak up more — or less. Maybe your faith in humanity has diminished. Or maybe, just maybe, something hopeful will emerge. Whatever is being put into motion right now will be looked at for the rest of your life.
God has some experience with history. Just like you, God’s history, too, but more. God stretches far into the past and future, beyond our understanding, but with every snapshot of what has come before us — whether it’s last Christmas or 9/11 — God is a constant presence. God’s in the picture.
Take comfort in that. God is above and beyond time. The Alpha and the Omega. And yet, with such overarching power and scope beyond all that is, was, and will be, God chooses to travel through time with us. The Holy Spirit guides us, protects us, nudges us. Christ loves us, forever.
If, like me, you feel the weight of personal and communal history weighing down at times like these, please remember that more than simply being a spectator to history, it is our daunting call to help shape it. Luckily, we serve a God ready to do great things in our lives and in our world…
all at a moment’s notice.
Have a great week,