What a World Shattered, Needs From Us

My heart sunk as I pulled up my Facebook page. Again. It was all I could think. I felt sorrow, I felt anxiety, and I felt something that is, I am sure, in close relation to hopelessness. So many emotions and so many feelings…and then I was struck with the most disconcerting feeling of all: selfishness. In a world that has caused me to feel so much in such a short amount of time, I was keenly aware of where the heart of my feelings lie — in my own selfish fears and uncertainties. Because somewhere in the midst of all the many headlines, I could not help but think, what if that was me or my family. This train of thought inevitably leads to the next one, when will it be me or my family?

From an airport in Turkey, to the terror stricken areas of Baghdad, to those whose were taken because of the color of their skin, all the way to the police force in Dallas – hate has made its gruesome presence known in a matter of time that barely spans over a week. Each happening causing something within us to stir and to feel, a mass of opinions being formed. For most, given ample time, most of these feelings will fade because at the heart of these feelings – is our own safety, security and happiness. These tragedies all show us a picture of just how quickly those things which we cherish, can so brutally and forcefully be shredded and destroyed; so we feel and we hurt – but we do so largely for ourselves. 

But then, our lives will go on  and our own personal sense of good and justice will slowly return. Our fears will have been removed. Until the next time.
Right now, at this very moment there are people scattered across this great world who are feeling hurt, scared, anxious and unseen. There are people from various places of America to the desert hills of the middle east who have experienced loss on a level most of us could not even fathom. Actions taken, which ripped loved ones away and destroyed all that was nearest to their hearts, has left many stunned and numb – hopeless. So many have the hideous stain of broken left behind by such acts of violence, acts which move beyond the very definition of senseless. Seeing the devastation and the hopelessness they are experiencing, is what should spark something within us to feel, act and do. We should grieve for someone who is grieving and we should grieve because someone is grieving. My grief should be felt from the sorrow, despair and the fear I know they are experiencing.

Church, Body of Christ, here are my thoughts for us.

Above all, yes, there is a call to pray. Pray for the hurting, pray for those whose world has felt the great shuddering of hate, and pray for those who are left with broken all around them, not knowing where to even begin in picking up the many shattered pieces. In our prayers, may we remember to pray for ourselves and our own hearts. We pray for forgiveness for any feelings which would produce: selfishness, hate, and/or prejudice. We pray to have eyes of grace and eyes of mercy. We pray that we will be brave and in our bravery we will reach out to those hurting – even those different than ourselves. We pray for humbled hearts as we prayerfully seek ways to extend a hand of love to someone in need. We pray for His goodness to flow from our actions and words. We pray to see those who Jesus sees, so we can point them to His love and rescue.

But also, we move. We reach out. We dare to be who we were created to be as a new creation through Christ Jesus. We ask for His Spirit to boldly move in us, so we can boldly move in the world around us. Rather than huddle and hide, we step out with hands that trust and say, “use me”. Let us be so moved and stirred by injustice and hate, that we step forward in the confidence of our Lord and be His light and peace.

We hold Hope in us, so what is stopping us from reflecting Hope and sharing Hope with those who are searching for any glimmer of hope. Our Hope is the anchor for our soul, it is firm and steadfast. This hope of ours, cannot be taken away, destroyed or marred in any way. In knowing all this, what in all of the world could hold us back from telling others about it, emulating and holding fast to it? Is our fear that much stronger than Hope within us? Let us then not forget that our Hope, is also Peace.

“Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Your heart must not be troubled or fearful.”

John 14:27

My sincerest desire, is that we will be moved to go beyond sharing a picture on social media that depicts our sorrow, that we will be moved to go beyond a moment that breaks our hearts, and that we will be moved beyond finding a political/social side to align with in all of this mess. I so desire for those who are called by His name, those of us who have tasted the sweet relief of rescue and experienced true peace and hope, to rise up and do something. It is time for us to look into the eyes of the hurting and love, to hold the hand of that person different from us and pray and to share the same Hope that is within us to a world desperate to know it. Let us wrap ourselves in His truth, goodness and light, so that we may be His truth, goodness and light.

This shattered world, it needs from us not pity or rage, but rather it needs the hope that we have inside of us – our everyday, ever-true and everlasting hope. Our hope is He who heals the hearts and lands of the oppressed and mistreated. Our hope is He whose very essence is life-giving. Our hope is He who is perfect peace. Our hope is He who sees everyone fully, knows everyone wholly. Our hope is He who loves everyone perfectly and has the power to save all who come to Him, complete.

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

Matthew 11:28-30

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The Parenthood Files: Fourth of July

Today, we celebrate the birth of a nation and freedom. My children and I will read some poems, sing some songs and listen to stories about the reason as to why we celebrate. There is a rich and powerful history born out of this old land, one whose stories and past beg us to continue to pass down to each generation.

It is my duty to relate to my children that this day and what it signifies for them, is more than just a time to eat, swim and watch fireworks explode in the night sky. While celebrations are good and have their place, to help my children really know the reason this day is worth celebrating is imperative to their understanding of the cost in which we are allowed to celebrate at all. It was a heavy cost, one that (often), still requires a weighty payment.

There are many things I hope to teach my children about being an American.

For my children to know how this generous land was a place of refuge for family so near and dear, is an absolute. I hope for them to know all the stories behind how they came to call themselves, American. Some such stories, may have taken place many generations ago…some of these stories happened within the generation of those they know and love today. To understand this land, is to know these stories; To love it, is to take that which we have been blessed with and, in some sort of capacity, share it with others. For this is largely impart of what makes America, who she is – beautiful and great.

The New Colossus

“Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” – Emma Lazarus 

I want my children to deeply understand that this nation was founded on many things noble and good –  a lover of justice and an indwelling of mercy was rooted into her being. I also want them to know that this grand country has made her fair share of shameful and grievous mistakes, in the 240 years of her existence. I want them to see her imperfect state. She is one who is marked by years and years of sin’s brokenness upon her land, for she herself does not have the power to rescue and redeem. While she is a land to be loved and cherished, she is not one to be worshiped and placed on golden pedestal.

I hope that my children will not look back on this country and wish for what once was…no, that is not what I want at all. I hope that I can model the love of Christ well, so that my citizenship is defined as such — I want my children to see the grace and redemption of my eternal home reflected in how I act while here at my earthly home. I want my children to not desire for their country a reversal, but, rather, for a strong movement forward – One that takes the good decisions made and couples them with even better ones for the glory of God and for His kingdom. For America, is but a reflection of her people and the choices they make. My hope is for a generation to rise-up within this great land and do great things. May there be a pride in country that is found: in the way her people love and seek the wisdom of a good, good Father, may it come from the way her people love all people as Christ loved them, and may it come from the ways her people act justly, love mercy, and seek to walk humbly.

Today, as we celebrate freedom, I hope I can impart to my children the gift it is and what it really means for all people of this American land. I hope that my children will know that freedom is a God-given gift to all and true freedom is found and experienced through Christ alone. I hope that I can help my children appreciate that they live in a land which allows them to choose that freedom without fear of punishment or exile.

Today, I do pray for God to bless America — if it will be a blessing well stewarded, if it will be a blessing that can be extended to others, and  if, it will be used to glorify Him.