Driving back from Ft. Davis a couple of weeks ago, my grandson Liam and I passed a horrible wreck on Interstate 20 in which the entire car was engulfed in flames. We could tell that the driver’s side door was open, and this led to speculation about whether the occupant(s) of the vehicle had survived.
Over the past several months I have passed an unusually high number of tragic-looking accidents, a number of them on the road between Plano and Siete Ranch. They are always a reminder that life is fragile, a gift from God that is not to be taken for granted. But in recent months I have also been thinking a lot about the challenge of surviving life itself. Not the extraordinary moments when there is an accident or a diagnosis, but the everyday challenges that come in a world that seems more chaotic every single day. There is abundant research about toxic loneliness in all age groups, about the rise of suicide in every demographic, about the fracturing of families and neighborhoods and communities. We somehow know instinctively that the mass shootings we are experiencing are, in some ways, an indictment of a society and culture that is moving in the wrong direction. All of this against a backdrop of international unrest and anxiety.
I don’t have all the answers to these problems, but I am convinced that our primary challenge is spiritual rather than political or economic. Solving the immigration issue or finding a compromise on gun legislation or figuring out how to extend an economic boom is not going to fill the gaping hole left in the lives of those who have lost their connection with God. It’s not going to mitigate the anxiety felt by those who question the purpose of life, nor the sadness felt by those who feel overwhelmed by the losses of life. In a country where church attendance is declining every single day, it is not going to answer the longing for meaning and purpose that is built into the psyche of every human being.
St. Augustine put it best sixteen centuries ago: “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.” It is only God who can meet our deepest yearnings and bring peace to our restless and anxious spirits.
Rev. Don Underwood