Ready Your Ears in 2017
by Mike McKinniss
Like so many of my fellow Americans, I was to varying degrees mesmerized, horrified, surprised and bewildered at much of the political events of the year 2016. And although I consider myself a conservative—not always a safe thing to confess these days—I like to pay attention to the action on both sides.
Early in the year, I was astounded that so many Americans were feeling the Bern. Given our long history of successful free market enterprise, I assumed even those on the political left would never support an avowed socialist. I believed from the start Hillary would be the Democrats’ nominee, but not because the party would feel the need to secretly undermine its own primary process and effectively lock Bernie out.
Further, it seemed with each week a new billow of smoke arose from the Clinton camp. And although no singular fire was discovered, the closer we came to election day, the more embarrassed I was feeling that we might elect a president with so many obvious smoldering embers trailing in her wake.
And speaking of things that smolder, I was stunned by the rise of The Donald. (A friend asked me 18 months ago whether I would vote for him, if it were to come down to Trump v. Clinton; I dismissed the question as an absurdity. I voted for neither, as it turned out.) Equal parts disgusted and intrigued, I wondered that each new outrageous statement on Trump’s Twitter account only elevated his standing in the polls.
Finally, my jaw hung agape late into the night November 8, watching state after state turn red, contrary to most predictions in the days prior.
Keep in mind, this is no political comment. That’s not what this blog is about. Moreover, I do not presume to have any insight into what 2017 might actually bring. I refuse to pronounce judgment on the trajectory of this last year’s events. I’m more a wait and see kind of guy.
Still, in the wake of 2016, with all its upheaval and the uncertainty it portends, I asked the Lord what we might expect from the coming year.
[Disclaimer: I do not pretend to speak for God, nor do I offer lightly what I believe I may have heard or sensed from the Lord. If you find what follows to be discouraging in any way, I assume all blame and apologize. My intent is to encourage.]
“He who has ears to hear, let him hear” (Mk 4:9).
That is the word for 2017.
Many of my friends are convinced the president-elect is the devil incarnate and stand by the slogan “Not my president”. They fear the things he says or tweets will incite discord, oppression and violence, both at home and abroad. If this is your camp, you’re likely asking God where he is and what he’s up to.
Conversely, if you were a Trump supporter, you are probably keenly aware of the backlash that has resulted in recent weeks from his election. The protests, occasional violence and general unspoken (if you’re lucky) disdain have you keeping your mouth shut and wondering how many new fissures can erupt in our society.
“He who has ears to hear, let him hear” is a call to redirect our attention.
Here’s what I know: God is always doing the most good he can possibly do at any one time. He can’t help himself. But it’s rarely as obvious as a presidential election. God is always about pronouncing good news, but it often arrives through odd or deceptively quiet vessels.
This isn’t to say that all that happens in this world is God’s doing, or somehow a part of some master plan. I’ve had that debate and I wouldn’t go that far. But I can say that however much chaos there seems to be in this world, the Lord who created everything around you—and then went to the cross to save it—is positively up to something good. Something really good.
But we’ll have to pay keen attention if we’re to catch it. It will be important, in 2017 and beyond, to cultivate for ourselves ears to hear. That is, in the midst of such uncertainty and turmoil, we will need more than ever to develop our friendship with the Lord (see Jn 15:15), so that we might hear his words of blessing and see his quiet acts of goodness, while the rest of the world tears their hair out over the latest missive from @realDonaldTrump.