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Recently, a well-known politician made headline news when she proudly shared a story about ruthlessly shooting and killing her own dog. These days it’s nearly impossible to unite individuals from both sides of the political divide, but this story did: Conservatives and Liberals and everyone in between expressed outrage at this governor over her blatant disregard for the life of her pet. Overnight, a mostly benign and fairly well-liked politician was being blasted across the political spectrum as Public Enemy #1. And at the risk of alienating wide swaths of my readership here, I have to admit: I found this outrage a little preposterous.

Now please hang with me for a minute: before you unsubscribe from my blog posts and relegate me to the growing garbage heap of canceled heretics, let me be clear that I DO NOT CONDONE THIS POLITICIAN’S ACTIONS! I am a great lover of animals and believe her treatment of this poor puppy was cruel and unwarranted. Even more disturbing is the apparent pride this politician took in her actions, and her misguided judgment in sharing this story with the world.

However, I do find it odd and more than a little disconcerting that this story garnered so much negative press in this heartbreakingly broken world where there are an infinite number of weightier issues that could be sparking outrage: the children who are being openly trafficked, and the entire populations that are lacking clean drinking water; the nations where dictators have stripped away the freedoms of their own people, and the tragic disregard for human life in our own nation, where hundreds of thousands of innocent unborn babies are murdered annually.

The unnecessary loss of one canine life is very sad. But what does it say about the misaligned priorities of our nation that we care so deeply about the shooting of a dog but fail to blink an eye over countless HUMANS who are oppressed, abused, and even murdered every day?

The human tendency to misjudge what is and is not worthy of our concern is not new. In The Divine Conspiracy (which was published in 1998 but contains truths as old as humanity itself), Dallas Willard tells the story of a pilot who was practicing high-speed maneuvers in a jet fighter and plowed her plane straight into the ground. Without realizing it, she had been flying upside down. Willard continues: “This is a parable of human existence in our times—not exactly that everyone is crashing, though there is enough of that—but most of us as individuals, and world society as a whole, live at high-speed, and often with no clue to whether we are flying upside down or right-side up. Indeed, we are haunted by a strong suspicion that there may be no difference—or at least that it is unknown or irrelevant.”

We are living in a culture that has lost sight of which way is up. We fly with confidence, not knowing or simply not caring that our moral compasses have gone haywire and are driving us into the ground. We care too much for things that do not matter, and we turn our backs on the things that matter most. Some refuse to acknowledge that there IS a right-side-up. Others recognize that they’ve gotten turned around but seek guidance from the broken compasses of self-idolatry, false religions, or gurus who are equally misguided.

The longer we immerse ourselves in this topsy-turvy culture of mixed up values, the more misguided we become. Soon we too are flying upside down, headed for disaster as we give our attention and concern to the things of this world while blatantly disregarding things from above. Our only hope for reorientation is to turn down the volume on the cultural noise and turn up the authoritative voice of God in our lives.

Isaiah 58:11 is a beautiful reminder of the guidance that is found in God. Through His Word, and through the compassionate, trustworthy voice of the Holy Spirit, we gain clarity on what matters most. We will be strengthened with truth and assurance, transforming our misguided spirits into well-watered springs of truth amid a land scorched by hypocrisy and lies.

I’ve spent enough time being watered by the Lord to know that my priorities and views are often askew. My heart is not always aligned with His, and I am prone to wander waywardly towards culturally popular ways of thinking or personally convenient ways of acting and believing. I pray that the Lord will continue to lead me back to His garden, where I may experience the refreshment of His life-giving, soul-affirming, truth-telling water.

Father, I thank you being the compass that sets me on the path towards truth. Jesus, thank you for walking with me as I wander, for having compassion when I stumble and carrying me when I begin to falter. Holy Spirit, thank you for your guidance that is louder and stronger and truer than the enemy’s lies. I praise you, God, for your goodness, your trustworthiness, your righteousness, and your right-side-upness in an upside-down world.

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