Monday, September 12, 2011

Love Over Loss

My 11 year old daughter stood at the kitchen table last night, running her hands over the items that laid there- a picture of me with my daddy who died of cancer 2 years ago, and an issue of the St Louis Post Dispatch from September 11, 2001 that I had saved in my cedar chest the past ten years. She soaked in everything she saw. Then with slight trepidation she asked, “Which is better- to die from cancer or to die from 9/11?”
She was only 15 months old the day those towers fell, and although I have tried to tell her in great detail about both the heartless terrorism and the selfless heroics of all the people directly involved with the events of 9/11, her young mind still hasn’t completely grasped it. I’m glad for that. I’m glad my 11 year old daughter doesn’t understand the needless slaughtering of innocent lives. I'm glad she cannot comprehend the pandamonium of that day or of the heartache that followed.
My husband and I began to explain to her, in honesty, about what it must have been like for the people on the airplanes that crashed into the twin towers. We talked about the fear that people must have felt who chose to jump from a 110 story building to their death to avoid being consumed by fire. We talked about the sadness of being diagnosed with cancer and the comfort and pain that are both experienced as your family stands by your bedside as your body is being eaten alive from the inside out.
Not your typical bedtime story.
It’s not a surprise that I found myself waking up in a stream of tears in the middle of the night. Shaking, I crawled into my sleeping husband’s arms and sobbed in the shelter of his comfort for a few moments as I recalled the dream that had broken my heart. While I do not remember the details of the dream now, I do remember that my dad was dying of cancer and my heart was breaking all over again. As I lay there awake, fighting back the tears, trying to gain control over my thoughts and emotions,  I began thanking God for my husband. I met Bob just 2 months after my father’s death… a constant reminder to me that God both gives and takes away. As I laid there in his arms, I suddenly had a peace wash over me with the reminder that I can always rest in my Father’s arms. Love wins out over Loss every time.
As my sniffling slowed and the gaping wound in my heart began to heal once again, God spoke to me in that dark hour of the night. Love always wins out over Loss. God immediately brought to mind the message I had just heard earlier in the evening from Beth Moore in her “Breaking Free” Bible study. To paraphrase, she said in her beautiful Texas drawl that there is nothing worth holding onto that God hasn’t given you. There’s no pain, no condemnation, no sin, no stronghold, nothing that brings us a false sense of comfort that is greater than the true comfort and peace that our Savior gives us when we lay it all down on the altar of sacrifice. When we lay down those things, it frees our arms (and our hearts) to receive the blessings God is waiting to pour out over us.
The pain of Loss is real, whether it’s the loss of life, the ending of a marriage, the death of a dream, or the loss of things that bring us security like our jobs or our home. It creeps up on us. It wakes us from a deep sleep. It paralyzes us with pain. But we don’t have to hold on to it. We are given a choice, each time our hearts hurt, to lay it back down at the foot of the cross. We have the opportunity to send the Enemy running by praying God’s Scripture into our lives. When we thank Him for our many blessings during the midst of our grief of a loss, the Enemy flees.
As the nation continues to remember and reflect the events of 9/11 this week, I encourage you to come before the presence of God with thanksgiving for the many things He has done in our lives as individuals and in the life of our nation. Send the Enemy packing. Give him no glory in your remembrance. Love wins over Loss every time.
Isaiah 61:1-4 (The Message)
The Spirit of God, the Master, is on me because God anointed me.He sent me to preach good news to the poor, heal the heartbroken, Announce freedom to all captives, pardon all prisoners.
God sent me to announce the year of his grace— a celebration of God's destruction of our enemies— and to comfort all who mourn, To care for the needs of all who mourn in Zion,
give them bouquets of roses instead of ashes, Messages of joy instead of news of doom,
a praising heart instead of a languid spirit, Rename them "Oaks of Righteousness"
planted by God to display his glory, They'll rebuild the old ruins,
raise a new city out of the wreckage, They'll start over on the ruined cities,
take the rubble left behind and make it new.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Vortex of the Cone of Uncertainty

A few months ago during tornado season here in the midwest my husband and I watched a weather report in which the meteorologist, in his most serious voice, pointed out on the radar what he referred to as "the vortex of the cone of uncertainty". This phrase caught on and is now used in all kinds of ridiculous ways in our house. We will, most likely, joke about it for years. It's dramatic. It's specifically vague. It's... funny.

But all too often in life we find ourselves in situations that are far from funny. We find ourselves right smack in the middle of something we don't understand. We find ourselves at the "vortex of the cone of uncertainty." Just as if we were sucked up into a funnel cloud of wind, rain and debris, we find our lives spiralling far from our control and into a vacuum that scares us.

We've all been there. Some of us more than others. What we do when we find ourselves there is what matters. Do we loose all faith and panic? Do we suck others into our disaster with us? Do we declare our lives a national disaster and cry to anyone who will listen? Or do we plant our feet on the solid ground and trust our Savior to hold us there?

I'm ashamed to admit that I've done a little of all of the above.

We're all familiar with the passages in the New Testament which remind us that God knows every detail of a sparrow's life and He cares so much more for us. (See Matthew 10:29-32.) We know that not a single thing happens that God is unaware of... that He doesn't have His hand on... that He hasn't allowed to happen in our lives. Yet, in the middle of the storm, we tend to forget that. We get so caught up in the mess that we take our eyes off our Maker.

As military wives, we joke that the only thing certain about the military is the uncertainty. We don't know where we're going to live next yea,r let alone five years from now. We don't know what church we'll go to or where we'll work. We don't know if our husbands will be safe. We don't know if they'll be home for Christmas. We don't know if they'll be home Saturday. And let's face it, lately we haven't even known if they would be getting paid. Our lives are made up of a great deal of uncertainty. But we have a Firm Foundation that we can stand on. We have a Rock which cannot be moved. We have a Savior who died for us. We have a Creator who keeps us in His care. We have a Father who tenderly loves us. We have a King who fights for us. We have a Groom who is coming for us.

"Turn your eyes upon Jesus, Look full in His wonderful face, And the things of Earth will grow strangely dim, In the light of His glory and grace."