A Tale of Two Centuries

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way-in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.”

Charles Dickens in A TALE OF TWO CITIES

NOTE: This is not a book review. I promise!!!

My husband thinks my favorite book is “Gone with the Wind”. It isn’t. No, my favorite book implanted itself into my heart the moment I picked it up and read the first sentence my freshman year of high school. I keep a pretty hard bound copy on the nightstand beside my bed, along with a small devotional book. Not because I continue to read it, but just because I’ve heard from interior designers to surround yourself with things you love. I happen to love A Tale of Two Cities.

The themes of social justice, self-sacrifice, and class inequality appeal to this social work heart of mine. As a believer, the idea that people can change is paramount. I also have a penchant for English Literature and British television. Does this make me an Anglophile? Well, if it does then I am guilty.

But I digress. Back to Charles Dickens.

Mr. Dickens was by no means brief in his commentary.  He was paid by the word. He penned these words in 1859-about 160 years ago. A Tale of Two Cities told a story placed in the age of the Reign of Terror, sixty-seven years before Charles Dickens lived.  And yet, it seems to me that were Mr. Dickens alive today, he could write that first sentence within a modern novel, a blog, post it on Facebook, or tweet his thoughts. (Even though he would have to edit the verbiage a bit) #tellingitlikeitis He could even present a thoughtful VLOG or TED talk for the academia of the day.

AND, he would be eerily just as accurate in painting the truth of the present day as he was in that day. Was he a prophet?  Or was he perhaps just a realist, who knew the more things change the more they stay the same? 

For it is indeed the best of times.  Many diseases have been eradicated in the developed nations and most of us are living longer than ever before. Technology is accessible for almost all who live in first world nations. We can travel farther and faster than ever before.; and yet, it is the worst of times as new diseases attack and old ones become immune to antibiotics in defiance of overpopulation, pollution, and over medicating the people. People are divided on every issue and it seems there is little hope for compromise and a meeting together on common ground.

It is the age of wisdom.  Knowledge is literally at our fingertips, or simply commanded by the sound of our voice while foolishness abounds in both the young and the old .  Perhaps they are bored.  Knowledge, so easily stolen, requires no real experience and minimal effort to obtain, offering no training ground on which to promote wisdom. There is little respect for the elders while so few elders are willing to pour themselves into the lives of the younger.

It is the season of light, it is the season of darkness.  Light is supposed to be stronger than darkness but so often we allow the shadows to cover us, swallowing us within a black hole.  Where is our power?  Do we believe that posting scriptures on Facebook, tweeting disparaging remarks, or angrily protesting those things which we are against rather than RISING for that which we support is in any way a true demonstration of power and light?  I tell you, It is NOT!

Where are the Wonder Women and Supermen of the Light, the ones who seek truth and justice for all?

Perhaps when the bearers of Light-No-when those who ARE the light of the world arise, shine, and stop relying upon a man or a political party to be their hope, which inevitably almost always is lost and turned to despair, perhaps then the “spring of hope” will arise and rather than believing there is nothing before was we will know we have everything before us.

Sidney Carlton, a primary character in “A Tale of Two Cities” demonstrated true love and self-sacrifice as he laid down his life for those whom he loved. And yet, in death he saw resurrection and redemption as he proclaimed of his city, “I see a beautiful city and a brilliant people rising from this abyss, and, in their struggles…be(come) truly free.”

Freedom awaits our people, our cities, and our nations. Hope rises! Yet many of us refuse to be more or do more than that which is easy. Jesus calls us beyond the easy. He calls us into more than ordinary. He call us to be LIGHT! And yet we wonder why our light shines dim or hides itself within the darkness of despair.

We cannot shine when our mind is set upon ourselves rather than upon the things above. I speak to myself as well. And as I read this chapter I find myself falling short. It is a daily war within me.

So, what are the things above? Isaiah, does not hold back his voice. He gives us the answer. Will we hear?

(If you are viewing from you phone scroll left to see the entire quote.)

1“Shout it loud and clear!
    Don’t hold back!
    Let your voice be like a trumpet blast!
    Declare to my people their rebellion
    and to Jacob’s tribes their sin!
Yes, daily they seem to seek me,
    pretending that they delight to know my ways,
    as though they were a nation that does what is right
    and had not rejected the law of their God.
    They ask me to show them the right way,
    acting as though they are eager to be close to me.
They say, ‘Why is it that when we fasted,
    you did not see it?
    We starved ourselves, and you didn’t seem to notice.’
“Because on the day you fasted
    you were seeking only your own desires,
    and you continue to exploit your workers.[a]
During your fasts, you quarrel and fight with others
    and strike them with an angry fist.
    When you fast like that, your voice will not be heard on high.
Do you think I’m impressed with that kind of fast?
    Is it just a day to starve your bodies,
    make others think you’re humble,[b]
    and lie down in sackcloth and ashes?
    Do you call that a fast?
    Do you think I, Yahweh, will be pleased with that?[c]
“This is the kind of fast that I desire:
    Remove the heavy chains of oppression!
    Stop exploiting your workers![d]
    Set free the crushed and mistreated!
    Break off every yoke of bondage!
Share your food with the hungry!
    Provide for the homeless
    and bring them into your home!
    Clothe the naked!
    Don’t turn your back on your own flesh and blood!
Then my favor will bathe you in sunlight
    until you are like the dawn bursting through a dark night.[e]
    And then suddenly your healing[f] will manifest.[g]
    You will see your righteousness march out before you,
    and the glory of Yahweh will protect you from all harm![h]
Then Yahweh will answer you when you pray.
    When you cry out for help, he will say,
    ‘I am here.’
“If you banish every form of oppression, the scornful accusations,[i]
    and vicious slander,
10 and if you offer yourselves in compassion[j] for the hungry
    and relieve those in misery,[k]
    then your dawning light will rise in the darkness
    and your gloom will turn into noonday splendor![l]
11 Yahweh will always guide you where to go and what to do.
    He will fill you with refreshment
    even when you are in a dry, difficult place.
    He will continually restore strength to you,
    so you will flourish like a well-watered garden
    and like an ever-flowing, trustworthy spring of blessing.
12 Your people will rebuild long-deserted ruins,
    building anew on foundations laid long before you.[m]
    You will be known as Repairers of the Cities[n]
    and Restorers of Communities.[o]
13 “If you stop pursuing your own desires on my holy day,
    and refrain from disregarding the Sabbath,
    if you call the Sabbath a delightful pleasure
    and Yahweh’s holy day honorable,
    if you honor it properly by not chasing your own desires,
    serving your own interests, and speaking empty words,
14 then you will find the joyous bliss
    that comes from serving Yahweh.
    And I will cause you to prosper
    and be carried triumphantly over the high places of the land.[p]
    You will enjoy the heritage of Jacob, your ancestor.”
    Certainly the mouth of Yahweh has spoken it!
Isaiah 58 TPT

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