Wednesday, July 1, 2009

No Despair

Oh for five smooth stones-- and for a battle where five smooth stones were all that I needed. It's been a long time between posts if anyone is still reading out there-- a lot has been happening at OCPC, in Grace Presbytery, in the General Assembly work I was called to do, and in the work to bring some economic revitalization to the southern sector of Dallas. Between leaky roofs and water heaters, conversation groups, committee meetings and reports, time just disappears. I wish I felt like I had something to show for it.

I think that's the reason most of us leave the intractable problems alone-- we fall into despair. One of my heroes was a captain in the Royal Navy early in the 19th century, after Britain outlawed the slave trade. His life was spent in the frustrating reality that laws do not actually govern human behavior. Just because selling people into bondage was illegal did not mean that the merchants stopped doing it; slavery was, and still is, one of the most profitable trades. All his working life, the captain attempted to stop and seize ships engaged in this evil trade. Some he stopped, but many were too swift for him to catch; and he knew that there were many whose sails he never even spied. In this thankless task, he drove his crew on with a simple motto: "Nil Desperandum"-- No Despair.

This is a time for thankless work-- for clearing ground, laying foundations, digging ditches for a new Church that will rise from Christ's work in later generations. Nobody signed on for this; we all have grown soft from the sordid luxuries of Christendom. But it is time to work-- to again declare that Christ is a new identity, trumping race, glass, gender-- trumping EVERY other identity. And if we are in Christ, then we must be about Christ's business, and we must begin to find Christ's way to be one voice with one Gospel proclaiming one Hope and living out one Love across all the boundaries which have too long clung so closely to us that we have forgotten how to run the race set before us.

No one may follow-- but that cannot stop our preaching. No one may approve-- that cannot stop our obedience. No one may believe that such a future can exist-- that cannot stop us from working toward it. However long it takes, however many generations work, whatever comes of my life given to the work-- even if it is nothing-- the Word prods on: "Do not be afraid. No despair." For we work not for the reward from the work of our hands, but for the reward that is ours, given from His nail-scarred hand-- "take my yoke upon you, learn of me, and you will find rest for your souls." When I see Christ, that will be time enough to rest. On with the next meeting, the next paper, the next Bible Study, the next sermon. Nil Desperandum.


  1. Clay, as you know, I always read anything you write! This week has shown me that the Voice of Jesus is alive and well, at least in this small part of my world. Sunday after attending worship together 14 year old Brian asked me "what is the difference between the Catholic church and the Baptist church?" He quickly realized the Catholic church which he attends does not have Bibles in the pews. But, I reminded him (as I have been reminded by both a Baptist and a Presbyterian pastor) the important thing is that we are all Christians. This morning, I went to the bank to conduct some business and the person who was helping me and I ended up talking about our Faith in Jesus. I am always amazed at how easy it is to talk about my Faith because I did not used to be comfortable doing that. Our God does amazing things with our lives if we just let go and LET GOD! All that you do is not in vain. You touch so many lives as you obey your Master! God Bless you in all that you do!

    In Christ's Love,

  2. Thanks for the post. I have been a horrible blog reader as of late, but always try to check in here as I can. Blessings on the continued breadth of your ministry! Peace bro!

  3. There are a lot of us who are reading, so preach, er, write on, Pastor!