Dear President Trump:
There comes a terrifying time for each of us when we realize that old ways no longer work, and that we don’t have any idea what is the next step to take.
The same is true of nations. In this nation, our political, economic, educational and healthcare systems are stressed to the point of breaking — and we don’t seem to know where to turn or how to fix them.
Today’s Daily Lectionary readings are about being humbled. A painful thing to be sure. But a good starting point.
In the Old Testament reading, fake leaders have led people astray. Their course is evil. Their “might is not right.” They “commit adultery and walk in lies; they strengthen the hands of evildoers.” God warns that their way will become “like slippery paths in the darkness, into which they shall be driven and fall.” (Jeremiah 23:10-14) In the Epistle reading, Paul recounts how the proud and mighty Pharaoh was, in fact, no match for God: “I have raised you up for the very purpose of showing my power in you, so that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth.” (Romans 9:17)
To the contrary, when the Psalmist is humbled, he cries out to God, “Teach me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul…Let your good spirit lead me on a level path.” (Psalm 143:8-10) And in the Gospel reading, when many abandon Jesus, he asks his inner circle of 12 whether they, too, plan to leave. Peter responds: “Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life.” (John 6:67-68)
As a nation, we now face this choice: humbling ourselves before God or blindly plowing ahead. Humbling ourselves ultimately leads to the path of seeking God’s ways and serving others — instead of only pursuing our own interests.
You end your book, Trump: The Art of the Deal, with these words: “In my life, there are two things I’ve found I’m very good at: overcoming obstacles and motivating good people to do their best work. One of the challenges ahead is how to use those skills as successfully in the service of others as I’ve done, up to now, on my own behalf.” (emphasis added)
Mr. President, may you model for the nation the grace and humility to do just that.
J. Daryl Byler