The cry of our hearts:
“Fully known and fully loved–forever.”
I am so looking forward to this new study from my friend, Erica Wiggenhorn!
The cry of our hearts:
I am so looking forward to this new study from my friend, Erica Wiggenhorn!
Those were the first words I read upon awakening this past Friday.
I hail from a large extended family and some I know better than others. Ben, not so well. But, his father, my cousin, is like a brother to me, having lived in our home for a substantial period of time when I was growing up. He gave me my first Beatles album. (Rubber Soul) He let me drive his pink corvette one day. He has an infectious smile and laugh. I have a million memories of and with him. Like each of us, he has strengths and weaknesses. Like me, He loves Jesus. I have dearly loved him as long as I can remember. Although he is miles away, I am grieving with him today and will be in the days to come. There is a hard road ahead.
Ben was his youngest. His one and only son, from a mother I have yet to meet. He was the child who most resembled him, from where I stand. He was the husband of a kind and beautiful wife who loved him and a sweet daughter he claimed. He had siblings who also grieve. Shockingly, his exit from this life on earth has been splashed across television screens which omit his name, for now. A devastating end to a sometime tumultuous life. But then, whose isn’t?
In the wee hours of the morning while riding his motor cycle on a deserted street in a town I once called home, Ben was struck by a car. His broken body slammed to the pavement and abandoned. A helmet lay on the ground near a single white shoe. A lone witness called for help as the driver of the car fled the scene, no doubt fueled by sheer panic and fear.
Emergency crews arrived to transport him to a local hospital, where a kind young woman tried to reach my sister, several states away, via Facebook. Having found Ben’s ID, she searched for his name there and and saw my sister as a friend and attempted to reach her in the hours before dawn. The kindness of strangers.
The witness at the scene of the accident shared information allowing the police to identify a suspect early on. He was urged to surrender and tell his story. His car was found, windshield shattered and other damage to the front. But he was in the wind.Truth be told, there was no where to run. Adding more sorrow to an already tragic situation, he was found dead, from what is assumed to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound. My mind shouts “senseless-tragic-why?” But- I am not God, hence I cannot comprehend the whys. But, what I do believe, is that God will somehow use it all for His purposes and our good as this sad story continues to unfold.
There is more “collateral damage” than is known to us. Both of the dead were 41 year old- young men who were sons and fathers, loved by those who suffer in sorrow today and who will grieve for many days to come. No doubt many will ask the perennial question, “why?” 1 Peter 5:8 reminds us that we have a ruthless enemy, described as “a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” He is always anxious to tear us away from everything that is good, every gift God freely offers us. By all we can see, it would that the enemy and his lies seem to have won this battle.
A mere three days into what might aptly be described as a nightmare, I have seen God’s hand at work in so many ways…in the kindness of strangers…in the emergency workers at the scene of the accident…in the witness who acted so quickly to call for help and to share information with the authorities… in the media professionals who withheld Ben’s name so as not to be the first to notify loved ones of his death…in the many who have reached out to both grieving families and– in the visit between a father and a son so recent that it had the finger prints of God all over it.
It is no coincidence that come July, this extended family of Ben and of mine, will once again gather together for a long ago scheduled reunion. We will celebrate an imperfect, unpredictable family that reaches far and wide across our country and the love and legacy we share. Unbeknownst to us until now, we will also grieve and celebrate Ben. Some of us will come to know him better in death than we knew him in life as we share stories and remembrances from those who knew him and loved him best. It is going to be a glorious time of remembrance, sprinkled with some grief, but not without joy.
The joy of the Lord is our strength. If you are grieving, and in need of comfort and encouragement, please won’t you open your Bible (or your device) to the following encouraging Words from the God of all comfort. It is my experience that
Please Read This and let me know how I can pray for you today:
Feeling more than a wee bit smug, I put the finishing touches on my presentation about persevering through the storms of life. (I should’ve seen those yellow warning lights flashing, right?) I was scheduled to speak to a gathering of women at my church in 7 days and was elated to have completed the preparation. (‘So unlike me to be ahead of the curve) Except for that nagging little voice in my head telling me there was still something I needed to add. Never the less, I had a week to polish and prune and a wide open schedule if adjustments were needed. No problem.
I arrived home that Thursday evening to find my husband in significant pain, but chalked it up to the fact that he had consumed an entire container of salsa with chips, so we went to bed praying he’d be better by morning. When the sun came up, it was clear that was not the case. His pain had intensified. I called his physician and although he was overbooked for the day, they fit us in. His pain was off the charts by the time we arrived at his office and his doc. urged us to go immediately to the ER for further evaluation.
We arrived to a bustling ER and were seen immediately, despite a lobby teeming with sick and injured patients. He was quickly evaluated and though there was “no room at the inn” he was moved into the patient area where he was put on a gurney, in a hallway just across from the desks where nurses and physicians took calls and input information onto their computers. Eventually he was whisked off for an ultrasound and later a CT scan. Blood was drawn and pain medication was administered. And we waited. For hours and hours.
The thing about an emergency room is that you are reminded that many others are far worse off than you are and that gives valuable perspective. As results came in, it became clear that his gall bladder was the offending organ, an uncommon form of infection as most are caused by gall stones. He had none. The CT scan showed a lot of inflammation around the gall bladder- known as acalculous. Initially we expected surgery that night or early the next day. It needed to come out immediately, but, because of a daily medication he took, we would need to wait 5 days until that medication was out of his system in order to avoid excessive bleeding. His white count was 29 which is 3 times the ideal, indicating a serious infection was raging. Although the surgery was impossible in that moment, the inflammation needed to be addressed. As we approached midnight, he was moved to the med-surg floor and prepared to be taken into radiology, where a catheter was inserted to draw out infected fluid in order to bridge the situation until surgery was prudent. The procedure had similar risks, but because it was less invasive there was less risk involved. It was a short term fix. In the days that followed, there were heavy doses of antibiotics, painkillers and intravenous hydration. Three days later, his white count finally began to descend.
Over the next several days, I spent long days that morphed into nights at his bedside. In the midst of this I learned a little more about the meaning of persevering through storms. I learned that there are gifts to be found. I learned that the gifts of community are in full bloom when we are confronted by such storms. Via text messaging, I started three prayer/update chains, one for immediate family, one with Bible Study friends and one with some cousins. The responses and reassurances of prayers going up on Mike’s behalf were an enormous comfort for me in the long hours I waited alone. Although I wasn’t able to respond in detail, I was able to show my appreciation quickly in most cases.
By Sunday, the word was out. Our senior Pastor came and spent an hour with us, encouraging and praying for healing. Over the next days multiple church staff members came to pray, deliver chocolate and bring encouragement. My girl brought hot tea. My sister-in-law and niece came briefly, and later delivered a sumptuous meal for me to take home. And one night when I left the hospital after nearly 12 hours, I asked a security guard to escort me to the 3rd floor of the parking structure. His name was Jesus. The significance of that was not lost on me.
So. Much. Kindness.
So. Many. Blessings.
The hospital experience was spectacular. The nurses, the nursing assistants, the physicians, the respiratory therapists…without exception we were bathed in kindness and grace. Each new morning I was made aware of everyday heroes, quietly doing their jobs and blessing those in their path with their faithfulness to the tasks given them: worker bees, all – nursing staff, housekeepers, facility staff, volunteers, cafeteria workers, security guards, parking attendants, lab technicians and pharmacists- the list is long. Even as I rode the elevators up and down, every employee made eye contact and spoke intentionally. Every single one. It was like it was a job requirement. Volunteers played piano in the lobby as I entered each morning and one such morning I found myself singing along…
“Oh what a beautiful morning, oh what a beautiful day, everything’s coming up roses, everything’s going my way.” Bringing joy and uplifting hearts, one song at a time.
Over the next week, my days were spent spoon feeding my patient bland, pureed food, assisting with grooming , adding blankets and taking them away, adjusting heat and bed up and down, calling for more medications or to stop beeping machinery, meeting with physicians and sending out updates to our prayer partners. Friends and family came bearing chocolate, hot beverages, books, cards , plants, dinner and prayers. One such angel walked and fed our pooches twice a day as I manned my post at the hospital. Encouraging texts flowed in throughout each day, surrounding us with friendship and love even though I was hard pressed to respond with specific updates. Prayers from Montana, Washington, Oregon, Arizona, California and more and phone calls from concerned friends and family. We were so covered and felt so loved.
Although he was assigned a shared room, we were blessed with privacy for the first five days. It was a blessing to have time and space to spread out with my books and laptop and a chair to rest in. Then, by divine intervention, an 85 year old Syrian man came in to claim the other bed. His daughter visited her Father that night and overheard a conversation about my niece who had visited earlier. When the woman got up to leave later, she apologized for overhearing but she had heard the names I mentioned and wondered… long story short, we realized she had actually cared for my nieces two decades earlier when they were very young. Though she no longer lives in the area, she had come to see her Father in the hospital and our Heavenly Father ordained that he should be placed in the bed next to my husband. Another reminder that our God is in the details of our lives. She shared with me that my nieces had recently been on her mind and heart and after I updated her on their lives she vowed to keep them in her prayers, knowing the Lord is faithful to provide for all their needs. Isn’t our God so personal and so kind? I am astounded at His intervention in our lives.
Six days after we first arrived at the hospital, a successful surgery was performed and on day seven, the patient came home, very grateful to be sprung from the annoyances of hospital life while appreciating every individual there who made his return home possible.
Sometimes community springs up where we are, as it did in the hospital that week. But, deep community is built in the monotony of everyday life when things are going well. It happens in our neighborhoods, in our churches and in our interactions with others. But, it doesn’t happen without our making the effort . The time to build community is now, not when you’re en route to the hospital in an ambulance. Because when you’re sitting in a hospital and day becomes night and then day again, that’s when your community will prop you up. When you are fatigued beyond your breaking point, they will deliver a much needed cup of coffee when you don’t even realize your body is craving caffeine or, a meal when you didn’t realize how hungry you were. They will close the windows you left open in your mad dash to get help and they will walk your dogs when you can’t get home to do it yourself. More importantly, they will send up prayers on your behalf when you are at a loss for words to pray yourself. They will bring comfort by waiting with you in the surgery waiting room and be a balm to your weary soul. These are the priceless gifts of community.
Tomorrow you may well reap the benefits from the one you built today.
Truth bears repeating: Continue reading
When I made the decision to retire, I was surprised at the number of people who expressed to me their belief that I would be bored when I didn’t have a job to go to everyday. My response was the same, 100% of the time:
But– maybe also people who don’t plan for what’s ahead. If you are currently contemplating retirement, now is the time to begin building for that future. If you have already retired and feel like you’re floundering, it’s not too late to begin.
In a culture where often the first thing we are asked by a stranger after initial introductions is “what do you do?” is it any wonder that so many of us are largely defined by our work? I learned early on to view my work as a means to support my life vs my life supporting my work. For me that meant that while I worked hard to give my best effort, I also endeavored to maintain a life outside my job. It was often challenging to manage that goal.
I have a friend who had a very successful career in a field she loved. She retired after some health issues made it difficult to continue, but has since failed to thrive and is largely housebound. She is an example of one who was so involved in her successful career that she failed to build a life outside of it.
If you are approaching retirement, here are 10 suggestions to consider :
The beauty of retirement is that we have the freedom to choose where and when to spend our time and effort and with whom. It is NOT the time to burrow in for the winter. We are not groundhogs, people.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on how you’re either preparing to or are already thriving as you age.
Here’s to Blooming in Winter! With a little preparation it can be the icing on your cake.
I really love retired life. My days are full and I love the freedom it affords. Even so, in a moment of madness, I accepted a short-term position which landed me back in the workforce for a period of six weeks. Three weeks into it, I’m musing on the value of a smile.
Each day of my assignment, I have been given the opportunity to interact with anywhere from 25 to 75 individuals for a portion of my day and theirs. What has repeatedly pierced my heart in these interactions has been the power of a smile and those who seem unable to give and receive them.
I have long been challenged by a desire to present a smile to all I come in contact with. The humble, quiet, smile can break down walls, lighten loads, ease anxiety, cheer the down hearted and comfort the hurting. It can encourage the worried, create a safe space for the scared and elicit a mirrored response. In that moment, all is good and right when someone smiles at you.
I find it disturbing when humans, both young and old, walk around with blank, angry or hardened faces. These faces appear unwilling to make eye contact and unable to give or even respond to a smile. They walk around with fences around their hearts that dare anyone to tear them down. I weep, especially, for the young students I have seen these last few weeks, who enter a room face down, stone faced and unable to receive the warmth of a smile, let alone return it. A smile invites others into your life, if only for a moment. It says, “you are welcome here in my world for this time we are together”. It makes you accessible and allows someone to experience a moment of joy.
If you refuse to receive and respond to a smile with one of your own, you are shutting those out who are purveyors of peace and joy. Perhaps fear, isolation or abandonment has caused you to shut others out for fear of being wounded by someone you once opened your heart to. Consider that a smile may well begin to heal what is broken and warm what has grown cold.
Let’s admit right now that it’s not always easy to smile. Sometimes it is a sacrifice to set aside how we’re feeling inside and to go beyond those feelings to give someone else what they might need. But let’s also be real. It’s not that hard to turn up the corners of our mouths even when we may be hurting inside. What does that old song say?
This is some good advice friends. Take heed, because when we smile we not only brighten the person we’re giving it, too, but we are also notifying our own soul that there is still much to be joyful about and to be grateful for. We cheer ourselves when we cheer others.
Take the smile challenge. Make it your business to give more smiles today. Bless someone with a gift that costs you nothing but may be an encouragement to one desperately in need of it.
“I cannot go to school today” said little Peggy Ann McKay. “I have the measles and the mumps…” So begins Shel Silverstein’s poem, SICK. Peggy Ann had no qualms about taking a sick day even if she wasn’t sick. I on the other hand…
I grew up in a household where to call in sick for work was severely frowned upon. With a fever of 102 degrees and a stuffed up head, I told my Dad that I was calling in sick for my shift. He schooled me quickly, letting me know that I needed to pull myself together and get to work. They were, after all, counting on my presence and should I not appear, my absence would impact the entire shift and everyone else left to run things. Mind you, I was not a brain surgeon or even a surgical nurse. I was, in fact, a clerk at Sav-On Drug. I was 19 and my responsibilities were to man the photo department and candy register. I know. Heady stuff. But, my Dad was pretty convincing and so I went to work with my fever, my congestion and a bottle of 7-Up sipped surreptitiously between customers. Crisis averted. The night shift team was saved.
This attitude toward calling in sick was firmly ingrained in my psyche. Over the years I showed up to work many, many times when I was clearly under the weather. After all, I had responsibilities to attend to, things that apparently I believed no one but I could handle , things only I knew how to do, my team was depending on me, etc. etc… While all that felt pretty admirable, in retrospect I realize it was also prideful and careless. In reality, people nearly always carry on when we aren’t there. Often, given the opportunity, they learn new skills and sometimes they shine and feel good about the skills you’ve helped them attain.
‘Truth is, if we are really good managers, we should always be grooming others to step into our shoes should we be unable to fill them. If we have an extended illness or some sort of personal catastrophe, we will then have prepared them for the task at hand and will also have done our employer a great service. As leaders we should be preparing others to step up to new challenges. In retrospect, the careless part of my behavior was that I put countless others at risk by coming to work while contagious and put those around me at risk. My immune system may have been hearty, but I was woefully oblivious to the danger I may have been exposing others to. Having lived nearly 6.5 decades now, I no longer take my health or that of others for granted.
Fast forward forty some years and while much had changed, my inclination to go to work “no matter what” was still quite the strong hold in me. My employer was “re-structuring” and as the newest addition to the area sales management team, I was the first to be downsized. When I got the call I expected, I was told my job had been eliminated. I was immediately asked if I would consider returning to the company should another position open up and I responded affirmatively. My next response was a question regarding my accrued sick time. The company policy was if you left the company, while you would be paid any accrued vacation time, any unused sick time would be forfeited. I had accrued nearly 200 hours of sick time, a benefit of my employment that I essentially was going to lose. I was assured that should I return to the company within the next year, those hours as well as my seniority would be reinstated.
Not three months later, they offered me another position , which I accepted and, as promised, all those unpaid hours returned to me. This was a pivotal moment in how I viewed sick pay. I made a three-pronged decision at that time:
From that day on, I vowed to stop pretending I was a super hero. The final five years of my professional life I acknowledged that the world would go on and work could get done in my absence. When I needed to go to the dentist or to a physician appointment for preventative care or for physical therapy, etc, I stopped doing so on my day off and used a sick day instead. When I had major issues going on in my life, or a family member was ill and needed care, I took a day or so off in order to serve my family and/or restore and rejuvenate my body and soul. While there were some instances when I believed my presence was imperative, they were rare. ‘Turns out I wasn’t as indispensable as I believed.
Sometimes our bodies need rest and sometimes our minds do. In both cases, when possible I scheduled sick days in advance, so my absence was not a hardship for those who would cover for me. But, if I woke up with a sore throat or a head cold, I learned to stay home, to rest and heal instead of sharing my germs with everyone else. When my husband had surgical procedures done, I took the day to be by his side to support him. I stopped being a workplace hero and started being more of a hero in my own home to the people I love most.
This was the same girl, who years earlier took less than a week off following a corneal transplant. My work ethic, instilled by my hardworking parents, was still strong, but I had failed to realize that our bodies need rest when they are worn down and that failing to give them time to rest and recover was shortsighted. It took losing the sick time I was so proud to have NOT used, to make me realize the folly of my actions. God knows me well and He knew exactly what it would take to adjust my perspective.
Please don’t misunderstand me, I am not in favor of calling in sick for every hang nail. I cannot tell you how often I took sick calls for young women unable to come to work a couple days a month because of menstrual cramps. I suffered with menstrual migraines for many years, but, I powered through and came to work. I want to be clear that I don’t believe we should call in frequently for minor ailments, but, for genuine health related concerns; sick time is for that very purpose- to maintain health and wellness so that we can do our best at home and at work.
When I retired three years ago, I left with less than one hour of accrued sick time. Prior to leaving I took care of all my looming health issues. I scheduled time with my dentist, physician, optometrist and chiropractor and used my accrued sick time to do so. I didn’t take it in big chunks but a day at a time as those appointments were scheduled in advance on days I knew would have minimal impact on my co-workers. At work I continued to give 100% to my employer. I made a good living and was compensated well. I mentored other employees and trained others to do my job and be promoted. I was a loyal team member who did her best everyday. For the last few years before retiring, when I was given opportunity to provide input on job satisfaction, I repeatedly brought up the issue of sick time not being paid to employees who faithfully executed their duties rather than calling in sick for every minor malady. Such employees should be rewarded for their loyalty, not punished. I was very grateful for the many opportunities my company had provided me and for the opportunity to do meaningful work with wonderful people, but. I left still hoping they would change their policy for future loyal employees.
Sometimes people don’t take the time they need because the work stacks up in their absence. I get that. But, working sick and/or exhausted is bad for you and everyone around you. So, do everyone a favor. Call in sick. And when necessary, call in well.
Emmanuel. God with us. God incarnate. The God of creation came down to earth as an infant, born a king in the most humble of circumstances, making it possible for both princes and paupers to be at home with Him.
Two thousand years later, His book, the Holy Bible arguably remains the world’s all time best-seller. Recent estimates tell us that more than 5 billion copies have been printed in hundreds of languages. While our society has grown more secular and less spiritual, He is not deterred or discouraged. Jesus still rules and reigns and whether intentional or not, the world still celebrates His coming each December.
Though it may now be called Winter Break instead of Christmas vacation, His coming is still marked with every Christmas tree sold, every intentional act of kindness, every gift exchanged, every carol sung, every meal shared, every dollar dropped into a red kettle, every cookie baked, every family gathered, every recital performed, every card sent, and every “Merry Christmas!” spoken. His mark in indelible.
He came to die. But, by His life and through His word, He taught us how to live, and to do so in ways that often confound our neighbors and friends. He taught us:
All this so that we could know and be known by Emmanuel, and be called His own.
In his book WAITING HERE FOR YOU, Louie Giglio says, “Christmas led to the Cross, and on both days Jesus accomplished what no one else could.”
What He accomplished was full payment for our failures, our sins, our just punishment for our sinful inclinations and behaviors. Not because we earned it, but because He loves us with an everlasting love. He came as a sweet little infant boy, wrapped in swaddling clothes, with impossibly soft skin and a perfect tiny mouth–no doubt a mother’s dream. But His destiny was to live and then to die. For us. So that we could be transformed to His image and to live eternally with Him free from the bondage of sin and shame. We cannot earn it, we don’t deserve it, but He came, the perfect gift from Heaven.
We have only to receive from His bounty. Christmas is past, but His gift remains. Today is the day of salvation. Take hold of the hand that reaches out to you with a gift tailor made for you.
Keep Christmas in your heart. Every day. It is the source of imperishable hope.
Tomorrow most of us will gather together with friends and family, to reflect on the blessings we share and the gifts we’ve been given. A big bird will no doubt light on our tables and disappear in a matter of minutes as we celebrate the season and those in our presence. Hopefully both our plates and our hearts will be full. Maybe those around your table will reflect on their many blessings. (I love that part)
In recent years, many have embraced the tradition of identifying a “word of the year,” a word to be mindful of in the year ahead. I, for one, have never been able to settle on anything other than “Gratitude.” It has, for many years, been the word that I hope most reflects the life I live. Hence, I am officially claiming it as my LIFE word.
Because, there is much to be grateful for. In the midst of the sorrows and trials of this life, it would be easy to succumb to despair. I feel ya. The news of the day wears me right out. There’s too much cancer and depression and terrorism and abuse and pain all aoround us.
But, happiness, I believe, is largely dependent on our ability to give thanks for the good, in spite of the bad.
Many years ago, the week after Christmas and before New Years, the husband and I had a little spat that morphed into a pity party with a guest list of one. While he watched a football game downstairs, I made the decision to wash windows in our upstairs bedrooms. The recent rains and winds had left them clouded with grime and I deemed it a good day to remedy the situation with a bottle of windex and a roll of paper towels.
I worked non-stop for an hour or so and was pleased as punch with the outcome until my husband responded that he would have greatly preferred that I had begun taking down our dead and drying fire hazard of a Christmas tree in the living room instead of dousing upstairs windows. You know, the ones no one but the two of us would likely see. Gracious and understanding wife that I was/am, I accelerated from humble servant to prideful shrew in nothing flat.
I retreated upstair in a rage, livid and astounded at his lack of appreciation for my hard work. (must I remind you that he was lounging in front of his big screen while I toiled?) Stewing in self-pity, (I confess I even shed a tear or two) I stomped around a bit and then sat down at my desk with a legal pad and pen in hand and set about to write the proverbial pros and cons list, except instead of pros and cons, there were two columns: one listing the things that drive me crazy (and not in a good way) about this man. The other was to be a list of all the things I appreciated about him.
You know how this story ends, do you not? List A was written in bold angry letters and was relatively short. An hour or so later, List B was long and still unfinished. As I put down my pen, I thanked God for this man I had been so angry with, for He had reminded me that this was the same man who had brought so much good to my life.
Our patient God used this simple exercise to remind me that my blessings are far greater than are the trials, irritations and frustrations that often blind me to the good gifts He has given me. While I acknowledge that many of the roadblocks in life aren’t this small and inconsequential, for the most part, they do all pale in comparison to the bounty I have received and enjoy. What makes the difference is which list I choose to focus on.
So, that day was a marker in my life– a day I look back on as a defining moment. A day when I chose to be grateful for what I have and to focus on the good, vs, bemoaning what is less than ideal and far from perfect. It was the day I chose to be intentional about where I focus. At this season of Thanksgiving, I am reminded again, that to be grateful is to be happy.
“Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious– the best not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into His most excellent harmonies. ” -the Apostle, Paul, (Philippians 4:8-9 The Message)
Today we all have a choice to make. Which list are you focusing on? I would venture to say that most of us have enough of all the things we need. Today, I wish you a grateful heart.
Happiest of Thanksgivings my dear readers. You are loved!
On this morning 17 years ago, I awoke to my radio alarm announcing that the World Trade Center had been hit by a plane. In my half conscious state, I stumbled out of bed and walked across the hall to my office where I turned on a television in time to see live, the second plane soar into the second tower.
For me, the world changed forever that day. An evil I had never known existed became a part of the fabric of my life. It had existed no doubt from the beginning of time as we know it, but, it entered my world that day and since then, I have walked through life differently. Not, in fear or in anxiety, but in the realization that evil is all around us in this broken world and that life is fragile.
May we for this one day, set aside our weapons of disagreement and strife and name calling and honor those who were taken?
May we take a moment to honor them and their unplanned, unexpected sacrifice and the sacrifice of all who loved them? Might we put down our disagreements and the political rhetoric long enough to agree that evil was present that day in a way most of us had never personally experienced before? May we grieve the losses and give honor? May we take comfort in the fact that such evil cannot consume us when our hope is in the One who made the ultimate sacrifice for us on the cross, that we might forever be free of the sting of sin and death? And may we be thankful for the freedoms we enjoy and the blessing we’ve been given by being citizens of this imperfect country?
Now, take heart. We do not walk in fear, but in confidence and in victory.
Don’t be deceived. There IS an enemy. The Bible tells us clearly in 1 Peter 5:8 that our enemy the devil is like a roaring lion, seeking whom to devour. He is real. But, in Christ, we have victory over him. He roars loudly, but, this lion? He has no teeth.