I Am Ferguson…And I Wasn’t Prepared To Hear It

by Frank Powell

As I prepared for bed last night, I took one last look at my Twitter feed. And I knew the situation in Ferguson was bad. I turned on the TV and watch the horror unfold. Yes, I expected it. Or I should have. But there is something about the human heart that holds out hope despite impending reality.

Peering through the TV, I tried to grasp the magnitude of the emotions in Ferguson. The hurt. The pain. The anguish. They formed a blanket over the city of Ferguson, MO like a well-built fort. You know, the one you made when you were a kid.

And the longer I watched, the more I felt the emotions. The blanket of anger, fear, and sadness seeped through the TV screen into my living room. And then it hit me.

That leads me to the purpose of this post: I want to explain what I saw as I watched the events in Ferguson unfold.

Every person watching TV saw looting, arson, and severe unrest. We got a front row seat. We saw businesses burning to the ground. We saw standoffs between protesters and police. We saw the anger, rage, and sadness. It appeared to be chaos.

But I saw something else. Something I was not prepared to see. While lounging on my couch, feeling the emotions of a city marred in unrest for months, I came to a sobering realization:

I am Ferguson.

Yes, you read that right. The media coverage, the raw emotions of the people, and the groaning of the city provided a vivid picture of my heart. Like the old Captain Planet theme song, the powers combined to shine a spotlight on my distortion, wickedness, and longing.

Let me explain.

The news outlets framed the story differently, making the truth hard to know…and I do the same with my heart.

I flipped back and forth between several news outlets. I had no intention in doing this but to avoid commercials. I hate them almost as much as cats. I didn’t turn on the TV last night thinking, “I want to grab a picture of Ferguson from several angles.”

But that’s what happened.

Each news outlet painted the Ferguson story a little different. They framed the story through a different lense. In doing so, I began to question the truth. And I wasn’t looking for the truth. I wanted to see the reactions of the people. But even though I watched innocently, I was pulled into the story. And I found myself doing something I never intended to do…taking a side.

But I only felt compelled to do this because each media outlet framed the story in a different light.

And God showed me something about my heart. I am no different from the news outlets. I paint the picture of my heart in a way that distorts the true picture. This is what we all do, right?

I hide the evil intentions. I hide the wicked thoughts. I rephrase the truth to make it sound acceptable. After all, the world needs to see that I have it together.

In doing so, I cloud my heart and mind from the depth of God’s mercy and love. The longer I cover my heart with agendas and desires to show others I have it together, the more difficult it becomes to find the truth. The truth of my helplessness and hopelessness apart from God.

[tweet_box design=”default”]Covering the depth of our brokenness clouds the depth of God’s love for us.[/tweet_box]

But when I take down the layers and turn off the spotlight, the depth of my brokenness leaves me longing for the God whose love never fails.

The chaos in Ferguson reflects the nature of my heart.

The truth might be hard to discern watching the news. But one thing is not hard to discern…the brokenness of the city. I hurt for the people of Ferguson as I watched businesses looted and buildings burned. I hurt as I watched months of emotions explode like a volcano. Protestors. Police officers. Bystanders. I hurt for everyone.

This is not the way things are supposed to be. This is not how men and women created in the image of God are designed to live. Things are not right. Something is broken.

Now back to my heart. No matter how many pretty colors I use to paint the canvas, the ugly, broken reality remains. And that reality is the brokenness of my heart.

Replace the arson and looting with anger and greed. Replace the frustrations of the protesters with a cynicism towards the world and a desire to be accepted. What happened in Ferguson last night happens in my heart every day. And it reveals to me something is broken.

The crying of the city to be restored reveals the longing of my heart to be made pure.

[pullquote cite=”Romans 8:22″ type=”left”]We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.[/pullquote]In a strange way I heard the cries of the city last night. Ferguson was crying for relief. Buildings burning. Protests increasing. Unrest amplfying. And the city of Ferguson wanted desperately to be restored. Like an under matched boxer enduring a barrage of jabs waiting for the referee to intercede and stop the madness. But a referee is nowhere to be found.

Scripture says creation is groaning. I never understood the meaning of that statement…until last night. I heard the groaning. I heard the cries of a city desperately wanting to be restored.

And the cries of Ferguson are the cries of my heart. I try to cover the brokenness. I expend energy to hide the truth. But the longing for restoration remains.

This is what God showed me through Ferguson. Creation is longing to be restored. It is crying out. But we rarely hear the cries. It takes fires, looting, and the eyes of a nation watching to reveal them.

My heart is also crying out. Envy. Greed. Impure motives. Longing for acceptance and fame. Lust. These things pour out from the depths of my heart telling me something is broken. This is not how God created me. And regardless of how many costumes I wear, my heart still groans. It wants to be pure. Free of impurities.

My heart wants to go home.


Pray for the people of Ferguson. Pray for the families affected. The world sees the pain. And many now mourn with the people of Ferguson as they move forward.

The world is broken. Something is missing. And that something is the eternal peace and love of God. One day God will restore creation. It will no longer groan. It will no longer show the bruises and scars of brokenness and unrest. Creation will be restored.

One day God will also purify my heart…for the last time. The blood of Jesus takes my impurities and makes them pure. But the groaning remains because my brokenness remains. The groaning remains because my heart is bruised and scarred.

Because my heart longs for perfection. And it is tired of using makeup to cover the bruises.

I love you all. To God be the glory forever. Amen!

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