A humble cartoon takes my experience in this world – in the great pretzel that is 2020/2021 – and renders it perfectly in the visual.
We live in an age of Byzantine technicalities…this must be certified, reference number please, this must come from your registered e-mail address, that attested to, each page initialed, more passwords and legislation than sand on the seashore in Dubai.
I’m trying to get all the technical and proper things done, getting my deliveries from ACME, and like Wile Coyote, just cannot get my hands on the Road Runner. Compliance is always out of reach, because there is always something else that has to be done. Obstacles, money, time, research.
I know how the coyote felt, hair singed from boom sticks, whistling through the air to the hard desert floor, and making a hole.
Its amazing the talent of cartoon artists, drawing the coyote with a look of exasperation and self pity that would be familiar to the rest of the human race.
Obviously, this is not a place of peace.
It hasn’t been for some time.
And yet, what peace there is, what snippets and brief moments of it lay down in my weary brain, come from Scripture…reading it, listening to it preached, or put into lyrics and sung.
Reading through the book of Acts this week, I read of Paul, Silas and Timothy in the city of Corinth. In the middle of a missionary journey, Paul puts down roots in Corinth because the Lord spoke to him in a vision.
A lot of people will listen to the message of the gospel, but equally, a lot of people will get their knickers in a knot.
Now, it wasn’t just because Paul elicited a response from people, it was the Message that he preached (the gospel) and as happened in many previous towns, Paul was brought before authorities by local Jews who just could not deal with him.
They brought him before the proconsul Gallio, who as a Gentile, had no interest in the accusations they were levelling at Paul. It wasn’t Roman law that they were going on about, but ‘questions about words and names’ and the Jewish law, religious things that were of no interest to Rome.
Paul didn’t even get a chance to speak, because Gallio had them ejected from the court. They tried to get a reaction out of Gallio by beating up the synagogue leader Sosthenes in front of him. To which the response was a yawn.
Violence seems to be of only detached concern to authorities until there is a riot, and therefore a threat to their hegemony.
All the setbacks (and the highs as well as the lows) experienced by Paul, and Sosthenes, and everybody in the church in Corinth. Paul writes:
“Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Maybe its the same when the setbacks aren’t personal or in opposition to the gospel. Maybe, when you’re the coyote and the Road Runner is running circles around you, there is no peace apart from the grace (and from that grace, the peace) that come from the Father and the Son.
“Grace is always first, peace always second. This is due to the fact that grace is the source of peace. Without grace there is and can be no peace, but when grace is ours, peace must of necessity follow.”