“He Saw That It Was Good” by Sho Baraka

Sho Baraka’s music has been on my playlist for quite some time. His music has been a blessing to me in various ways. Although I don’t always track with it, Baraka’s albums always make me think hard about real-life issues from a Christian perspective. When his book, He Saw That It Was Good, recently came out, I had to get it. Among other topics, this book is about stories, calling, using your gifts, being creative, music, and letting your light shine while living in a dark world. Baraka’s book is somewhat autobiographical and he does write about ethnicity and Black history that has been influential to him. This book was informative and helpful for me. Below are some of my favorite quotes from it:

Whether or not work has always been arduous is a debate for another time. But work has always been virtuous. I believe much of our trouble today comes from a simple fact: we have lost the virtue we were meant to find in our vocations (p. 26).

No matter your situation, God has intentionally placed you in a particular position to be a blessing. This is where your gifts and work come to bear. You are to live into this calling here. And now.

I seek a better land, a better city. As I pursue my true home, God has given me the task of seeking the welfare of the city where I now live. While I’m an orphan on earth, I can have no greater satisfaction than knowing that I’m a citizen of heaven. We will soon learn that there is no returning to the Garden of Eden. However, there is a Garden of Gethsemane. A place for rest and supplication in the midst of pain and confusion. As I seek the welfare of the city, I pray God affirms my work and sees that it is good. And I pray the same for you (p. 126).

In this passage (John 17), Jesus revealed that our best protection from the world is not isolation but the truth of God. This will sanctify us. This will protect us. Be equipped with the Word and go into the world. Keeping ourselves from the darkness of the world will not make us adequate missionaries for the kingdom (p. 147).

We are residents of a kingdom that is not of this world but still in it. We do not rejoice in violence, sexual sin, and lawlessness. However, our kingdom is reached by a narrow road that welcomes the dishonorable to new citizenship. We do not forget the lives we lived and the struggles we still have. However, to know the dark and not to be overcome by it is to walk in real victory and courage. Not a baseless arrogance that ignores the dangers but a courage that sees a fiery darts cutting through the air and knows how to avoid their sting. It’s the courage that Christ transferred to us after declaring that all authority is his. We have the courage and earthen vessels, but we are not easily broken.

Sho Baraka, He Saw That It Was Good (Colorado Springs: Waterbrook, 2021).

Shane Lems
Covenant Presbyterian Church (OPC)
Hammond, WI, 54015