“We come to this convention in the midst of turmoil; turmoil that is political, commercial, social, educational and religious.”
These words come from the Executive Committee report to the Annual Meeting of Oklahoma Baptists in 1925. Luke Homes, pastor of Tishomingo, First, brought them to my attention. Brother Homes reminded me that, “This is not the first Annual Meeting that Oklahoma Baptists came to with uncertainty.” Brother Holmes piqued my curiosity, so I refreshed my memory of Oklahoma history. Our state, in many ways, went nuts in the 1920s!
Oklahoma had a race massacre. Our governor declared martial law to do battle with the KKK. Farm prices bottomed out. To quote the Oklahoma history book of David Baird and Danney Goble, “The 1920s were easily the most troubled decade in state history. Before it ended, Oklahoma would impeach and remove two successively elected governors from office and would send at least one certified lunatic to Congress.” This was a decade of bitterness, divisiveness, and even violence in our state.
During that season, the president of our convention was A.N. Hall, the longtime pastor of Muskogee, First. He and the Executive Secretary J.B. Rounds led the Board of Directors to bring the report that included these words.
“We come to this convention in the midst of turmoil; turmoil that is political, commercial, social, educational and religious… Surely man’s extremity is God’s opportunity. For that reason the church and its agencies need to be continuously so close to the Holy Spirit of God that they can surely interpret the Divine will to a nonplussed world.”
I had to look up the definition of nonplussed: “(of a person) surprised and confused so much that they are unsure how to act.” In 2020, we are living in a nonplussed world. This year is pushing our people, our schools, our businesses and our institutions to their limits. I agree with Brother A.N. Hall, “Man’s extremity is God’s opportunity.”
As followers of Jesus, we are neither surprised nor confused by the chaos and confusion of our broken communities. We have always known that our resources are insufficient, our sense of control is a farce and all our striving is vanity, like striving after the wind.
We also know Jesus.
When our Lord was born, a bright light pierced the darkness, and the angels declared, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you Good News of great joy which will be for all people” (Luke 2:10).
This present turmoil will bring many to their extremity, to the end of their rope, and finally they might have ears to hear. God give us grace to be so close to the Holy Spirit that we can be light in this darkness, truth in this confusion, justice to the least of these and that we can bring the Good News of Jesus Christ to this broken world.