Tuesday, January 28, 2014

What He Sees

This past weekend, our oldest son had a role in a local stage production of "The Outsiders."  I have never read the book or seen the movie.  It was a sobering look at the lives of teens separated by social status.  The "greasers" and the "socs" (well-to-do social upper crust) were the groups created in the mind of S. E. Hinton. Yet they represent the divide between many types of kids in any decade.

The climactic moment of the play is a rumble.  Our son played the part of Paul, one of the socs, who begins the fight.  As the young men began swinging their fists, suddenly, our son was being pummeled and knocked to the ground.  I knew this was coming, and it still made me slightly sick to my stomach.  I knew he was really going to be okay...yet I wanted to run to the stage, drag my eldest to safety, then head back onto the stage and straighten things out!

As I was watching, though, a thought came to me:  how does God feel when we're getting beat up?  When we challenge the world to a fight, and they step up to take us on...what is God thinking?  Does He want to call out a warning to us ("Duck!") or step in and receive the punch in the face in our place?

But, as a good parent, He sometimes lets us take our walloping.

You might be thinking, "What good parent would do that?"

One who knows what is best for us.  Sometimes we have to take our licking.  We have stepped into a situation, and He lets us learn our lesson.  We have been belligerent and tried to take matters into our own hands.  We have become cocky, thinking we could take on the enemy's thugs--and will win it all on our own, and in our own way.  We want to fight on our own, and He lets us see what happens when we do that. The enemy likes to make us think we're in the battle by ourselves.  He isolates us and bring on his bullies.  We fall for it.

But, as a good parent, He also reminds us He is on our side.  We don't have to fight alone or give in to the enemy's tactics. We need to learn we have to fight by God's rules and use His battle plan. We can call on our Big Brother to step in and save us.  Because He has already fought the battle and won.  He knows how to do it, and will help us win, too.

Yes, some of the skirmishes are going to end in ways we find unpleasant.  But always, always remember:  we may not win each fight, but with God on our side, we will win the WAR.

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Reflections on the Journey - 2013 edition

My past posts have revealed some great moments of 2013, as well as some really difficult ones.  And, as most of you are already aware, my cousin's daughter, Claire passed away at the end of 2013, after being shot in the Arapahoe High School shooting in Colorado.

Life is full of ups and downs, isn't it?  When we're in the midst of the "downs," we often feel they will never end.  But when that glimpse of sunshine comes blazing through the dark clouds of our storm, we are reminded that God is still God.  We are prompted to recollect all the times He has shown us His love and mercy.  If we really ponder that, we KNOW it is true. 

I sat and wept on January 1st, as my cousin Mike shared such amazing words of forgiveness for the killer of his daughter.  He reminded the audience of the need to end the cycle of anger, hatred, and bitterness.  A young man named Karl took Claire's life and, just a few seconds later, took his own life.  Mike offered no cutting words of revenge.  He offered words of hope.  Words to cause his listeners to call to mind the myriad of ways we can show love instead of seeking retribution.

The same love God continually shows each of us...

Those are the moments of 2013 I want to remember.  The moments of grace.  Because those are the occasions that will pull me through the journey in the tempestuous winds of this life.  And afford me the opportunity to share that same grace with others, just as Mike did.

"Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place."  II Corinthians 2:14