I decided to love Snoopy (and the whole Peanuts gang) when I was a little girl. The adoration continued well into my teen years, hitting its peak with college dorm room accoutrement, including, but not limited to, a daily journal, a monthly calendar, and a plush pup for snuggling. The first Christmas ornament hung on our tree each year? Ceramic Snoopy. And it’s not officially the Christmas season until we’ve watched Linus say, “Lights, please?” and present the Gospel right there on network TV. “That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.” Gets me every time. My classroom today has a couple of vintage Peanuts posters, and I still read the Classic Peanuts comic on Sundays. I have a Pinterest board dedicated to the Gang. Of course I do. That’s where I found the image of Snoopy, his mind wandering in the dark of night, and becoming ‘troubled.’ I can relate. Can you?
Lots of uproar in the culture wars these days. Even the Olympics (that global exaltation of the human spirit that binds all nations together in athletic brotherhood for two weeks) can’t squelch the political and cultural vitriol. I slipped and fell in the mud myself when I posted a political ad that stirred me up a bit on my Facebook page. Big mistake. Like a Facebook posting is going to change someone’s political position. I know this won’t happen. Still, I lost my mind for a moment, and put something up there that only ends up revealing a bit of my own ignorance, rather than furthering any sort of position I might believe in. Religious fervor, political stances, cultural shiftings, and finger pointing – all of these running rampant in the social media venues. And the biggest question of the week seems to be this: Is it still okay to eat chicken?
Lots of folks weighing in on this one. Can private business owners hold a personal opinion? Should local governments grill prospective business owners regarding their personal beliefs before granting an operation permit? Some cry ‘bigot,’ or ‘hypocrite,’ but the lynchpin, hurled often and with deadly accuracy, is ‘intolerant.’ Protests and accusations fly. It’s good to be an American in America, where we enjoy and even celebrate our freedom to speak. And speak, we should. Ideas matter. Truth, if we can manage to find it, matters! Words wound, or heal; comfort, or abrade; stir, or soothe. We ought to be careful how we use them. I, unfortunately, am still learning this impossibly difficult lesson, opening my mouth or setting my fingers on a keyboard when I likely ought to be still. Abraham Lincoln (oh, for a president of such convictions!) gets credit for saying, “better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.” Ah, yes.
Globally, some dreadful cases of man’s inhumanity to man rage on. Syria comes to mind. Aurora, CO. al-Qaeda. Sex trafficking. The list is long. Interminable. Emotions ratchet up the rhetoric. Campaign speeches and empty promises. Equal rights for everyone, though increasingly, “some are more equal than others.” And we’re worrying about where, or if we should eat chicken. “My mind gets to wandering, and I become troubled,” longing for Truth, which, if we would be still and remember, promises to ‘set us free.’ Knowing what we believe is a fine place to start, though ‘knowing Whom we believe’ is far better. Many voices out there clamor for attention. Eat chicken, or don’t. Vote for the candidate of your choosing, or, don’t. Consider the culture wars and the global unrest. I expect your mind, like Snoopy’s, will often become troubled. As the nation of Israel made their way to the temple in Jerusalem, their voices rose together, reciting praises and prayers. We know these as the songs of ascent. Psalm 120 is one. It begins: “I took my troubles to the Lord; I cried out to Him, and He answered my prayer. Save me, O Lord, from lying lips and deceitful tongues.” When our ‘minds get to wandering’ we encounter (sometimes we make for ourselves) trouble of every kind. Really, the only comfort depends wholly on Whom we rely. And the resolution to our troubles can be found, as it always will be, in Truth. By definition, there can only be One of those. Don’t be troubled any longer. Listen to the Truth for a change. He really does set free.