There’s heat in the kitchen… And President Obama is catching that heat about his response – or lack there of – to the environmental disaster caused by the oil well explosion and leak in the Gulf of Mexico. Even the President’s 11-year-old daughter, Malia, is weighing in on the issue. Obama said, “You know, when I woke up this morning and I’m shaving, and Malia knocks on my bathroom door and she peeks in her head and she says, ‘Did you plug the hole yet, Daddy?'”
No doubt, this is bad… BP’s top official, Tony Hayward who had previously claimed that the environmental impact on Gulf of Mexico would be modest, has changed their tune and today call it “environmental catastrophe.” Meanwhile BP engineers continue to pump heavy mud into the leaking well in hopes of stemming the gushing oil.
It’s all bad… and everyone and no one is to blame… It’s a helpless feeling because this is a problem caused by humans that humans themselves can’t remedy… Even the best case now after weeks of futility will mean years of destructive fallout… Scenarios like this are one of the reasons we started this blog, “Prayer Plain and Simple.” Sometimes the best thing we can do is pray, and ask God for help in halting the consequences of our own stupidity. This is one of those times. Yes, BP needs to work harder. Yes, the Federal Government needs to step up. But even their best efforts won’t be enough now. We need a miracle. So let’s ask…
“God, step in and stop the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico! We ask this because we don’t know what else to do! We acknowledge that humans caused this problem, that our actions and inactions are now corrupting this beautiful and bountiful part of your planet. Forgive us. And then step in to act where we cannot. Give BP engineers supernatural wisdom to make the right, rapid decisions to remedy the leak. Give them stamina and creativity that is beyond their own capacity. Bless their technology so that it works even better than it is designed. Give governmental leaders, local, state and federal, unity and focus to deploy all their energies in the right direction. And beyond all this, please reach out your hand to protect the parts of your creation that will be damaged by this disaster. We humbly come to you to ask you for your grace. May the consequences of our stupidity, greed, laziness, and ignorance in this case be less than they should be! We know we should reap what we have sown, but here, we ask for a stay in your hand of judgment. We do not deserve your pardon here, but we ask it anyway! In Jesus name, fix this problem that we so pitifully cannot!”
Joe Cocker got my vote to win American Idol, 2010. He was not eligible and I didn’t watch the finale (or any other episode), but Cocker sang on the show and that fact alone got my attention this morning. I have a long history with Joe Cocker, going back to the angst of high school and more recently in a real life bitter failure in my walk with God that I lived through a few years back. I tell that Joe Cocker story in my book, Nine Ways God Always Speaks. Here’s the excerpt…
Mark rose early on Saturday morning and realized there was no milk in the house. With company that would soon wake and want breakfast, Mark knew a trip to the store was in order. He threw on sweats, shirt, and a baseball cap, and headed out.
The aisles were sparse and the workers were few as the night crew was finishing their shift before the day crew arrived. Mark grabbed a gallon of milk and a package of blueberry muffins. As he walked to the front of the store, he looked for open checkout lanes. There was only one. He got in line behind a man with a cart filled with boxes of donuts. The man noticed Mark’s glance. “Garage sale,” the man said, pointing to his load.
Mark looked up and his gaze landed on the checkout lady. Clearly, she had worked all night. Exhaustion and boredom draped over her like a heavy blanket. She appeared to be in her mid-fifties. Life had been difficult, that much was certain. Mark glanced at her nametag. “Macy,” it read.
He shifted on his feet thinking of nothing in particular. Then from somewhere deep inside a Voice interrupted his indifference. “Tell Macy that I think she is beautiful.”
Mark coughed out loud.
“Not a chance,” he argued to the inner Voice. “I’d get slapped. Or worse, I’d get slapped with a sexual harassment lawsuit! I’m not telling a 50-year-old grocery clerk she’s beautiful.”
Garage Sale Guy packed his donuts into the cart and headed toward the door. Mark set his breakfast items on the conveyer belt. Macy avoided his eyes and maneuvered the milk and muffins through the bar-code reader and waited for his payment.
Mark fumbled for time as he continued arguing with the voice in his head. “I don’t even know her. I’m married, and I’m a pastor. What would it look like if I said something like that?”
“$5.49,” Macy said. Her voice sounded worn from cigarettes and screaming.
“Tell her I think she’s beautiful,” the Voice said again.
“I can’t.” Mark felt sad–a helpless regret that comes when you buckle to your fears.
The Voice fell silent.
All Mark could hear was the Muzak playing over the store’s speaker system–some tired hit from the seventies. He reached into his wallet.
“All right,” the Voice broke in with a tinge of irritation. “Then I will.”
One song ended and immediately a new one began. It was Joe Cocker crooning, “You are so beautiful, to me.”
Mark handed Macy the money, stuffed the food in a bag, and slouched toward the door.
He missed his chance, and he knew it.
Speaking is a volitional act, and God gives us the privilege of participating in his work, but he doesn’t need us to speak for him when he wants to get his message across.
He can do it himself, thank you very much.
I’m listening… Hopefully, I’m listening and responding. God’s voice comes to us in so many different and sometimes strange ways. He can even speak through the oddly placed lyrics of a Joe Cocker song. For that he would have gotten my vote, eligible or not…
I stopped by “Google Hot Trends” this morning to see what is “trending” on the web. Are we bored, what! #1, #5, #11: “Dancing with the Stars.” #4: “Who Won Biggest Loser?” #8, #15: “Who Won American Idol?” And #10: “The Hills.”
With the Gulf Coast drowning in an oil slick, Jamaica bleeding on the streets, North and South Korea in a dangerous standoff, the White House declaring war on Arizona, Ahamdinejad warning President Obama to accept Iran’s nuclear future, and the Cubs again four games below .500, we’re still obsessed with television fantasy games.
So what will it take to capture America’s attention? Better question: what will it take to capture America’s imagination? When everything significant is completely insignificant, when the popular is meaningless and the hip mere fashion we’re doped and some might say near done… I don’t know. . Seriously… The only ones winning these ridiculous contests are the networks… And we’re footing the bill… How stupid and lazy can we be!
But… I choose to take a ray of hope today from my own Hope, my precious 20 year old daughter Elisabeth Hope who is taking two precious weeks of summer vacation from college to work with the Anti-Human Trafficking group, “Not for Sale.” Ellie is part of a team learning and putting into practice “smart activism,” to deal with this insidious and world-pervasive issue.
It’s a matter that matters to God, and therefore must matter to us. NFS is committed to finding ways to snap America out of her reality show addiction to see reality as reality is; and then to do something about it!
In response, my role today is to pray, for Ellie, for the heroes in “Not for Sale,” and for all of us, to wake up and begin to care about something more than so-and-so’s costume malfunction on the finale of blah-badie-blah blah blah. So let’s start a new “hot trend” today – “Not for Sale” rescuing child slaves in Ghana could be the hot search word… And to start that I’ll post this prayer… Pass the word. Let’s set a trend instead of following one…
“God, stir my heart today with the things that stir you. I am so easily distracted. I am so frequently diverted to pass-times, that steal time and energy and focus from what truly matters. God, help me keep my focus. Let me join, at least in heart and conviction, with those who are in the heat of battle against things you hate and for things you love. I bless today those serving the poor, the broken, the sick, the estranged, the forgotten. Wake me at a heart level to care about these things, to turn my eyes toward, and not away-from the pain in this world! God, I give you access to my emotional center, to share with me what defines your character. In Jesus…”
Pray for a peaceful governmental transition in Trinidad and Tobago. It now appears that opposition leader General Kamla Persad-Bissessar will become the Caribbean nation’s first woman prime minister after her coalition won national elections yesterday. Prime Minister Patrick Manning has conceded defeat after his People’s National Movement lost 14 of its 26 seats in Parliament. Former Attorney General Persad-Bissessar’s People’s Partnership coalition won 29 seats with her United National Congress party taking 21 seats themselves, giving the UNC a simple majority in the 41-seat Parliament.
Let’s pray for Trinidad and Tobago and the entire Caribbean region.
“Father God, we pray a blessing on the nation of Trinidad and Tobago. We thank you for the gracious and hospitable spirit you have given to the people of this Caribbean nation. We pray now for a peaceful transition for this new government. Give Prime Minister Manning and his team a gracious and cooperative spirit. Protect the nation and her citizens at home and abroad from any threats of violence. Give wisdom to the new leader, Kamla Persad-Bissessar. May she have the direction and support she needs to govern with prudence and vision. We pray that the destiny you yourself have set for Trinidad and Tobago would be realized. In Jesus name…”