Submitted by Norman Franklin

We live in a topsy-turvy world. Some things are complicated, some things are simple. A lot of things are beyond my understanding. Some things that I can’t understand I still enjoy; others, because of their utterness, compel me to keep my distance. And there is One who I cannot understand, but because of His character, I draw closer and trust Him more. 

I don’t understand the steps and skips and scales and motions of the music that gives us jazz, but I love jazz. I can become lost in the listening to John Coltrane, Monk, Miles Davis or Hancock for hours. And there are others. I can listen while I am working, I can sit relaxing and listen. Listening to the improvisations of jazz artist pulls me into the intensity of their expression and releases me to process the reality of my own experiences. Jazz is purely an American genre of music created by African Americans. Jazz is rhythmically infused with their personal struggles and the cultural struggles of America. I enjoy the sounds, the improv and the mood it sets for me. 

I don’t understand the mechanical functions of a car’s engine. I raise the hood and see a configuration of belts and hoses and metal that somehow works together. I get in, turn the ignition key and the fuel injector and spark plugs and pistons harmonize and move my vehicle on its way. With confidence, I ride over highways and city streets in comfort and entertained in my mini autonomous world on wheels. I’m thankful for those who know the science of engines. I look to them when I need help to fix something broken that is beyond a flat tire.  

I don’t understand how electricity is generated through the burning of fossil fuel or wind turbines. Wires run overhead or underground to bring the power and the conveniences it gives to our houses. We flip a switch on the wall and light illuminates darkness; it brings warmth, comfort and security. I pay the utility bills monthly. I understand what keeps the power coming into my home. 

I don’t understand racial biases, white privilege, racism, systemic racism in our commerce, institutions of learning and government that has embroiled this country for generations. We believe in a God who made us in His image, of one blood and is not partial to any particular one in His creation.  I don’t understand how, despite the facts that clearly refute the mythology of superiority, it still lingers. We live with the conveniences brought to us through the ingenuity of African Americans and people of melanin skins in science, engineering, commerce and more. We are intelligent, enlightened people, we live in an age of instant information, global connectedness. I don’t understand why we are bent on operating with yesterday’s primitive ideas. 

I don’t understand the dynamics of climate change. I don’t understand the dramatic changes in weather patterns, catastrophic storms, warmer temperatures and the melting away of the polar icecaps; it could be attributed to global warming fueled by carbon emissions, maybe not, but it is undeniable that something is happening to our world. I don’t understand how believing the scientific data or refuting the obvious with opposing data has become a political football. It stirs discord while catastrophic  floods and tornados destroy lives, property and livelihoods.

I don’t understand why God allowed Europe to rape and murder and steal precious human resources from the Continent of Africa to supply free labor to the Americas – North and South, Cuba and the Caribbean. Millions were shipped across the Atlantic, not knowing what awaited them, never seeing the shores of their Motherland again, never knowing of their rich heritage and ancestry of advanced cultures. Yet the continent in all its beauty, opulence and glory was not diminished. God’s glory is revealed through our storms of life, and our pain. Perhaps it was to give us the voice of the prophetic poet, Maya Angelou, as a hope and an inspiration to our kidnapped souls.  “You may write me down in history with your bitter, twisted lies, you may trod me in the very dirt but still, like dust, I’ll rise.” 

I don’t understand why hiding the truth of our dark and sordid past from our children will lead to an enlightened generation of leaders that will bring unity to this nation of diverse people. Learning the truth may be painful, it may be embarrassing but the truth will set us free. As James Baldwin, the great African American writer states it, “American history is more beautiful, and more terrible than anything anyone has ever said about it.” Our children deserve to learn it all. 

“The Lord looks down from heaven; He observes everyone. He gazes on all the inhabitants of the earth from His dwelling place. He forms the hearts of them all; He considers all their works.” Psalm 33:13-15

I don’t understand why tax cuts, primarily for the wealthy and super wealthy, are repeatedly offered as the solution to our economic woes and the national deficit. Empirical data shows that it fails to deliver the promise to supercharge the economy. From the ‘trickle down economics’ of the Reagan era to the latest bluster promising a $4-$5 trillion infusion into the economy of repatriated earning, have all failed to bolster the economy or put money in the pockets of ordinary Americans. 

I don’t understand why there is such boisterous, vocal pushback against government initiatives of programs to assist those citizens on the bottom rung. We are straddling generations to come with the weigh of debt, it is argued.  The voice of opposition to tax cuts, which result in adding to the national deficit, is negligible. God will judge the nations on how they treat the poor within their borders. 

I don’t understand God, but then I don’t need to; I understand the He is and that I can trust Him. Furthermore, if I could understand Him, He wouldn’t be much of a God, He wouldn’t be awesome and All-Sufficient; He wouldn’t be my shelter in the midst of storms, nor my anchor when the boisterous waves of life have me tossed and driven. His ways are not like our ways, His thoughts not like ours. 

“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts from your thoughts. Isaiah 55:9

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