09
Mar
22

“I want it. I’ll take it.”

“How is it with your soul?”

This is the question John Wesley – founder of Methodism – recommended leaders of small groups go around and ask each member as they began their weekly gatherings.  

Today, I will ask it of you. How is it with YOUR soul?

OK. I’ll start. Furrowing my brow and listening carefully with my Soul Stethoscope, I find significant unsettledness there. 

This is probably the third time I have sat down at my laptop to write this blog post. Each attempt has been inspired by events swirling around me and my heart’s response. And yet each attempt has faltered. Too much swirling. Too few coherent words with which to describe it. 

One of those dancing threads is the current horror we are witnessing in Ukraine. Nightly news reports regularly afflict me with a poisonous potion of tears, rage, and complete helplessness. I ask; How can something happen in 2022? What can be done to stop it? How am I called – both as a humanitarian and a Christian – to help alleviate this unbelievable level of innocent suffering. 

Tears.

Rage.

Helplessness.

Twisting around that first thread is this one: “I’ve seen this story before. Many times over.” As appalling as the Russian invasion of an independent, democratic country and the accompanying slaughter of civilian men, women, and children is, it is a familiar refrain. 

For untold millennia, one group has looked at land next door and said, “I want it. I’ll take it.”

This phrase is the story of every act of violence perpetrated in human history. It is the motto that has driven every robbery, every murder, every rape, every colonization, every enslavement, and every crime committed by one person against another from the beginning of time.

The European explorers who first landed on this continent were guided by this motto. The words were occasionally polished up and nobilified and even burnished with a shiny missionary patina. But it was exactly the same underlying motivation.

“I want it. I’ll take it.”

And when those first settlers wanted free laborers to plant their fields, raise their children, harvest their crops, and build their homes, they sent ships to Africa and TOOK them. They took people from their birthlands. They also took them from their languages. They took them from their communities. They took them from their families. They took them from their faiths and symbols. 

“I want it. I’ll take it.”

The taking has continued, unabated, to this day. And as I look around at the wealth and advantage spread at my feet, I am also called to face the fact that I have benefited from that taking. 

And I have remained silent.

That is the third, and final, thread weaving throughout this tapestry of tumult in my soul today. That thread is the recognition of my overt complicity in the tragedy of these times. No, I am not driving a tank on the outskirts of Kyiv. No, I did not pilot a slave ship through the Middle Passage. No, I did not whip or rape one of the hands on my cotton plantation. 

But it is no leap of imagination to recognize an ancestor of that same TAKING impulse living in my heart today. 

It begins with the belief that all agendas but mine are trivial and unimportant. It begins when I find myself listening to RESPOND instead of to UNDERSTAND. It begins when the righteousness of my cause supplants the righteousness of all others. It begins when I can’t let go of an ancient injury until “justice” (my personal justice, that is) is finally served. 

We are right when we see evil at work in the world and call it by name. We are right when we work to end its reign.

But we are badly off target and self-deluded when we fail to recognize the capacity for evil we each carry in our own hearts. 

Abundant blessings;


6 Responses to ““I want it. I’ll take it.””


  1. March 9, 2022 at 11:30 pm

    Russell, AMEN! THANK YOU for so eloquently and precisely explaining the unsettling in your soul–because it describes mine and I couldn’t find the words. I understand how long it took to begin this piece; the restarting. My favorite song of all is, “It is Well with my Soul”. I’ve had it in the back window of my car for almost 5 years. This is NOT WELL in my soul. None of it is. I’m sorry to get on a tangent here. I’m a sports fan, Russell. BUT,..I can’t watch the news where one family is losing everything–their homes, lives, livelihood, and so many are suffering here with just affording to do ANYTHING and the headline today was about a football player receiving more money than my mind can even fathom. Our FIRST WORLD problems are so insignificant. God, help them! Help us!

    • March 10, 2022 at 12:07 am

      AMEN. I think it would be a bad sign if our souls were not troubled by all that is going on. We are really not meant to rest easy when there is this kind of tragedy afoot in the world. Bless your unsettled ness, Karla. Our only hope is in Christ and praise the LORD that we know it!

  2. 4 ephesians413
    March 11, 2022 at 2:51 am

    Great points. So thoughtful. Thank you for writing it. I can’t speak for the European explorers though. I don’t know what was in their heart or mind.
    James 4:1 – 3 From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.
    We often see others who think in their heart, “I want it. I’ll take it,” but we need to see what kind of ideas like that are lurking in our own hearts. God gives us everything that we need. If we feel we need something, we should ask Him rather than being jealous of someone else. However, (a big time however!) let’s not ask amiss. Being content is a lost quality in our world today,

  3. March 13, 2022 at 3:49 am

    One of a child’s first words is “MINE.” ‘nuf said. 🙄

  4. March 20, 2022 at 6:24 pm

    A whole word in these few lines. Mercy! God, be with us all!


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