By Charlie Johnston
Most folks here are familiar with the story of Naaman, the commander of the Syrian King’s armies (2 Kings 5:1-27). Naaman was stricken with leprosy and came to the prophet Elisha to find how he might be healed. Elisha told him to go and wash himself in the Jordan River seven times and he would be healed. This instruction infuriated Naaman who, in essence, said, “No, really, what is the secret to getting healed?” After wasting precious time in which Naaman kept wanting the REAL secret to healing, he finally grudgingly went and washed himself in the Jordan River – and was healed. It strikes me that the Jordan River was where God Himself, after He took on our humanity, would be baptized some 800 years later. In eternity, where everything is present now, the Jordan River must have been sacred from the very creation because that was where God chose to accept human baptism. When we are in Fatima or Lourdes or St. Peter’s Basilica, we know we are in sacred space – but we do not know when we are in space made sacred because of an event that will be made manifest in time a thousand, a hundred, or even just a year from now. So, we scoff. But every space that ever will be sacred is already sacred in eternity and has been from the very beginning. Better then that we put away our scoffing and approach the world with the wonder of an innocent child, who intuitively recognizes that the world, itself, is amazing and sacred space.
I feel a certain kinship with the prophet, Elisha, these days. Many people ask me what the secret is to weathering the storm. When I tell them, “Acknowledge God, take the next right step, and be a sign of hope to those around you,” they are usually unhappy and want to know the REAL secret. I have spent six decades wrestling with things I have been shown, trying by trial and error to figure out what they signify, often barking up the wrong tree, sometimes erring pitifully, but steadily stumbling forward, winnowing out what is extraneous from what is needful. I look with no little sympathy on such requests, for I have been there myself – thankfully, long ago. People usually expect that when God speaks it is going to be as complicated and chaotic as a Rube Goldberg contraption, with all sorts of extraneous whistles, bells, and useless moving parts. The voice of God is simple, profound and deep. The key to discernment is not to add the curlicues and buttresses of our own imagination, but to winnow out what is extraneous. It is the project of a lifetime. As it emerges from the fog our imagination imposes over reality, it is simple, regal, majestic, commanding and unimaginably beautiful. The simplicity and power of His voice then guides every decision and choice we make through our lives.
Consider music. If you were an amateur first discovering it, you might think there were thousands of notes to account for the infinite variety of it. There are 12. There are infinite octaves of these 12, only a small handful of which are accessible to our poor power of hearing, but there are only 12 notes, the foundation of all musical composition. All composers work from these 12. Beethoven and Tchaikovsky, Benny Goodman and Johnny Cash, Louis Armstrong and Elton John, even Barry Manilow all work from the same 12 notes to create the infinite variety of styles and types of music – combining and orchestrating them in ever original ways. Only 12. Elegant simplicity offering infinite variety, untarnished by chaotic complications.
It is a paradox, but once we have basic knowledge of things, the key to expanding wisdom is not in adding on curlicues and such from our over-eager imaginations, but in winnowing away the chaff that obscures our vision of God’s reality. Boil things down to its necessary constituent parts. From there you can begin to discern and contemplate the infinite variety of God’s creation in all its majestic and elegant simplicity. Eleven notes would make for an impoverished music. Thirteen notes would make for a chaotic and confused jumble. Twelve notes, as Goldilocks might say, is just right. Knowing what the genuinely necessary constituent parts are and are not paves the way for fruitful contemplation.
Acknowledge God: When we are children in a healthy family, we are always aware of our parents; their authority over us, our duty to them, our reliance on them, and the mutual love between us. Even when we get up to some mischief, they are never far from our mind’s eye. If we land in trouble, we call on them and trust them to help extricate ourselves from our errors. We trust them to help teach us, to learn how to exercise wise initiative and prudence. We don’t spend our day unceasingly begging them for everything we need, but trust they will provide for our needs while encouraging us to develop the best parts of our authentic personality – and take delight at our efforts, embryonic as they may be. So they attach our little drawings or poems or stories to their refrigerator, genuinely proud of us, as we are genuinely proud of their pride in us – and encouraged by it to do a little more. This is to acknowledge our parents – and captures the bulk of what I mean when I say, Acknowledge God. See Him as true Father: rely on Him, trust in His care for you, and act so as to make Him proud. Imagine your drawing on God’s refrigerator – and get to drawing.
Take the Next Right Step: This acknowledges our duty to do, to act while simultaneously recognizing the severe limits of our prowess. It acknowledges our responsibility to get it as right as we possibly can, taking each little step, without letting the satan seduce us with delusions of grandeur. It emphasizes both our reliance on God for each step and trust that He will correct our wrong steps while realizing we may NOT bury our talent by taking no initiative. God has given each of us gifts and He expects us to use them, trusting that He will uphold us when we use them while acknowledging Him, even when the way forward is obscure and scary. There is no risk when you risk yourself on behalf of your love for God. This is the beginning of contemplation on what the next right step means.
Be a Sign of Hope to Those Around You: This does not mean be a wimp or even to just “be nice.” If friends are being assaulted, the way you be a sign of hope to them is to defend them. That means you are, at the very least, a sign of contradiction to those doing the assaulting. In some cases, you can even become a sign of hope to the one doing the assaulting. In grade school, I became friends with a bully because I held my ground on behalf of a friend, took a bit of a beating while taking a few chunks out of the bully, and would not back off, though I was losing. Somehow, it triggered in him the idea that he could use his strength and aggression to defend and help people. We became friends in the process and HE became a sign of hope to others. Being a sign of hope means carrying God with you as best you can to all you meet – meeting them where they are, respecting their conscience as you demand they respect yours, and enjoying your interactions with them. It means seeing the thread of virtue in them by which God calls them, thin though it may be. Acknowledge the virtue that is there and you help grow it. Doing their work with refinement and precision IS a virtue, whatever else is involved. Consider St. Paul. God acknowledged his passion, fidelity and fortitude, even though it was directed against Christians and transformed those virtues into a great asset for God’s Kingdom. Sometimes, when someone who has a good heart is doing the most wrong thing they can, what is really happening is that the devil is training them to eventually become his powerful enemy. Try to be a pure, untarnished lens through which the light of God may truly be magnified to all you meet. This is the beginning of contemplation of what it means to be a sign of hope.
God’s voice is to be found in the little whisper, not the roaring thunder. The thunder, in fact, is an effort to obscure His voice. We do not approach Him by adding layer upon layer of complication over our understanding, but by winnowing away the chaff which obscures our vision of Him. The more clearly we see and hear Him, the more reliable are the first principles we can discern which help us to make sound decisions in all the particulars that confront us in our lives. I have told you well the nature of the battle, along with a faithful description of the topography of the battlefield. And from the moment I started writing about the Storm, I told you true the real secret to weathering it well: Acknowledge God, take the next right step, and be a sign of hope to those around you. Contemplate this in its majestic simplicity and you will be prepared for whatever may come.
We must wash ourselves in the Jordan River. For us, as for Naaman, that is the real secret.
On Friday I did my first ZOOM meeting with CORAC affiliates from other nations. Sweden, Ireland, Spain, Australia, Canada and Germany were represented. In Sweden they have started the equivalent of what we used to call “storm dinners,” where people get together to pray and make arrangements to help each other and others who will need it as things get darker. I encourage people throughout the world to get your storm dinners going. Make provision now to live solidarity for whatever may come. People constantly ask me what the most important thing to do is now. My reply is always the same: make friends. By making friends, we weave together the bonds of solidarity that will support us throughout all trials.
I can’t oversee affiliates throughout the world. But I can live solidarity with my friends throughout the world. This was my first international ZOOM meeting (though I did do a livestream presentation in Mexico a few years back), but it will not be my last. Wherever you are in the world, get your storm dinners going. If it will help, I will visit with you by ZOOM. If you are outside the USA and want to get more involved with CORAC, contact Sue at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Monday we begin our Easter fundraising drive for CORAC for the second quarter. We have committees and teams covering the country, focusing on working together and working up ways to help each other with Health and Wellness, Communications, Prayer and Education. Throughout the last year, the Health and Wellness Team put together wildly popular classes on homeopathy and videos on how to care for yourself and your family. The Sustainability Team is now running classes and developing videos on gardening and other skills you may need if things get more primitive. Our radio communications network crisscrosses the continental US and is growing stronger by the day. We are now running online catechism classes with Desmond Birch each week. Good old Dr. Joe Brickner and I do a weekly podcast on matters large and small. Sheryl Collmer produces and edits a bi-weekly newspaper that gives you news of CORAC Regions and of national and world interest that you won’t get from the establishment media narrative. I travel the country, meeting with CORAC groups, endeavoring to hearten the faithful and ignite action. In the last two months I have had meetings in Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Virginia, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Kansas, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas. Some are private, most are public. Like Johnny Cash, I’ve been everywhere. And where I haven’t been, I’m going!
There is no charge to join CORAC, nor for any of the classes or videos we produce. But it takes money to keep everything afloat – and for that we depend on the generosity of those who join us in our commitment to faith, family and freedom. Our monthly nut for web services, legal services, travel and all administrative costs is still right around $10,000. Your dollar stretches a long way with CORAC.
We are working a project now to get Brazen Serpent Prayer Cards designed, printed and distributed around the country for all those who have been damaged by Covid shots or other dangerous mandates and seek to turn to God for healing and reliance. We will order an initial 5,000 cards, with miraculous medals included, to give to Regional Coordinators and Team Leaders for distribution – and they will be available for direct order from the supply house with which I am working to design them.
Won’t you give us the largest donation you can today to keep our mission going? And if you have not yet joined CORAC, what are you waiting for? We need you. You need us. Together, we seek to humbly collaborate with God in the renewal of the face and faith of the earth. You can donate online or send a check to CORAC, 18208 Preston Rd., Ste. D9-552, Dallas, Texas 75252. Let’s keep those cards and letters coming!
Just briefly, as things get ever more chaotic and scary, let us bear with one another with great patience. Even some of the best minds and most committed Christian witnesses are struggling to stay on the rails right now. Do not be quick to condemn. Cut each other some slack. Panic is the thing that undoes so many in the early stages of a crisis. Remember that both fear and confusion often present as anger. So listen not only to what those around you say, but what they mean. Hear the cry of their heart, however camouflaged it may be. Deliberately bear each other up. The person who your calm resolution saves from panic now may well be the one who saves you from panic later. Bear with one another and keep focused on Christ. He is the one who calms the sea around us.
If communication goes out for any length of time, meet outside your local Church at 9 a.m. on Saturday mornings. CORAC teams will be out looking for people to gather in and work with.
Find me on Gab at Charliej373 or at the CORAC group.
The Corps of Renewal and Charity (CORAC)
18208 Preston Rd., Ste. D9-552
Dallas, Texas 75252