Thursday, June 18, 2015

A Day We Will Never Forget

I have not written anything in this blog since January.  Six months.  Six months of life flying by and being busy and not stopping because there was not enough time to sit down long enough to put a thought together between ministry trips, commitments, studies, preparations, packing, unpacking, non-stop busyness. And then last night as I was lying in bed, sleepily watching the news, unspeakable tragedy was happening just 2 hours from my home of Columbia in beautiful Charleston, SC.  Today everything was heavy, and we were all forced to stop.  CNN carried the news going on in my beloved state all day, and just now I turned on the TV to find it is still on.  Headline news: my beloved state, and my brothers and sisters in Christ.  Gone.  On June 17th, a 21-year-old gunman walked into a church in the beautiful city of Charleston, and after attending their Bible study for about an hour, opened fire, killing 9 people. NINE.  PRECIOUS. LIVES.  People that loved God and were in His house.
Tonight as I write this, it is June 18th, and I have followed the senseless tragedy as it has unfolded on newscasts, praying with every breath I take for all involved. There are no words. And so for now, I simply have a song that keeps coming to my mind that I used to sing in the earlier years of my ministry:
"When answers aren't enough, there is Jesus.
He is more than just an answer to your prayer.
And your heart will find a safe and peaceful refuge. 
When answers aren't enough, He is there."
There are no answers for this. We will question why until Jesus comes and rescues us from this world filled with evil. As I watched our Governor Nikki Haley in a press conference, her voice breaking as her tears openly flowed, she spoke with choking emotion, "Parents are having to explain to their kids how we can go to church and feel safe, and that's not something we even thought we'd have to face." 
I don't know the answer to this. I don't have many answers tonight as I sit here at my desk needing to put something down in black and white to help me sort it all out.
And so I am looking to the One who says, "I am the way, the Truth and the Life." Because if I keep looking around me, I will surely fall into despair. Today I cry out to the Father Who loved those precious ones whose lives were brutally taken in a house of worship, in a place where we should be able to go for sanctuary and feel safe. But that same Father also gave His only Son for the one responsible. Does it make sense? No, but "God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish, but have everlasting life." WHOEVER.
I remember asking myself a question after receiving a letter from the man that killed my sister years ago, asking me to forgive him from death row.  I had to ask myself if I truly believed that WHOEVER even meant that man.  That murderer.  It's amazing grace, and none of us deserves it. This young man has a family...a mother, father, grandparents...let's not forget them. Let's not forget him.  The things I have seen people post on social media, the names they have called him, many claiming to be followers of Christ, says they obviously do not feel he is one of the whoevers.  But my Bible says "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."  ALL.  That is you and that is me.  And we are ALL WHOEVERS.  But for the grace of God, there go I.  As we pray, may we open our hands and hearts to the Only One Who can begin to make any sense out of it all, and cry out, "Father, we don't understand, but help us to trust You as we look to You for strength, grace, peace, and healing."
How much more appropriate this Scripture is tonight even more so than when I first read it this morning on my flip calendar by my kitchen sink,in light of all that we have witnessed...the tragedy, senseless loss of precious lives, heartbroken people crying out "why?" And yet God is still God and He will bring healing.
And so tonight, our heavy hearts can look nowhere else but to Him.  My heart aches for those families whose loved ones were so cruelly ripped from them.  I know that pain.  I cannot stop thinking of and praying for them.  But as much as I know that pain firsthand, I also know the One who will rise with healing in His wings, and I know that as much as He did it for me, He will also do it for them.  And so as you go to bed tonight, let's lift up mothers, fathers, wives, husbands, children, friends, families that are grieving.  Let's not wake up tomorrow and get back to life as normal.  Pray for Charleston.  Pray for peace.  Pray for revival in America, in this world.  Only Jesus.  When answers aren't enough...Jesus. 


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