Wednesday, May 22, 2013


Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
John 14:27

Imagine her, at the breakfast table, in the morning - "I'm a big girl, Mom, let me try your coffee," or "I'm old enough to go to So-and-So's boy/girl party this weekend," or even "I want to wear the pink shirt, today; we're all wearing pink."  Asserting her independence.  Proclaiming her impending teen-hood followed by adulthood.  The girl at the table, eating her breakfast, drinking her juice, petting the dog that comes up for a scrap of bacon.  

Imagine the getting ready.  Getting ready for work, getting ready to take the bus, making lunches, packing homework into a bookbag.  Last minute messages - "Remember, I'm going to be a little late from work tonight, Honey, you can make yourself a snack, to hold you until dinner."

"Ok, Mom."

Love, like the deep roots of trees, opens its leaves in the every day conversation.  Every day miracles - leaves - budding and growing on every day trees.  Love.  Taking care.  Daily care and schedules.  Making breakfast.  Packing lunch.  Coming and going in the home.

And then the world is turned upside down.  Destroyed.  Annihilated.  Reduced to unrecognizable rubble.  Trees stripped of their leaves - families stripped of their homes.  Those miracles of growth and life taken in an instant of incredible, unbelievable wind.  God in the wind.  God in the trees.  God in the home.  Sovereign God.  Almighty God.  Terrible God.

I do not give as the world gives. 

The stories are coming out of Oklahoma.  Devastation and loss written hand in hand with rescue and heroism.   The pictures are coming out of Moore, Oklahoma.  Homes like matchsticks scattered on ground scoured by wind and storm.  Metal siding twisted onto trees like apocalyptic sculpture.  Snapshots of destruction.  Snapshots of hope.  A mother whose face can't hold all of the care and worry and love she feels for this child - carrying her daughter, her too-big-to-be-carried daughter - the girl at the breakfast table - the girl in the pink shirt - across a landscape of debris - homes in the faded background - honor guard of the American Dream.

How does one quantify the loss?   Great columns of debits and credits written in red and black.  How does one quantify the love?  Poured out by strangers - parents - teachers - first responders - soldiers... How does one answer the whys.  My daughter watches the news and looks to me in horror - why?  What did they do?  Those people in Oklahoma?  Why them?  Why there?  Then she looks outside at the grey sky and the drizzle of rain - and I can read her mind.  What about here?  Will it, could it happen here?

And I do the best I can.  To explain to her.  To tell her what to do.  To get her phone - to get her helmet - the one she uses when my husband takes her for a ride on his bike - to go to the little bathroom - to close the door and call me.  To call my husband.  We will come home.  And I remind her of the time when we went to a closet and sat, waiting out a warning - she had the helmet, I had a comforter pulled over the two of us.  Sitting in the closet, giggling and laughing like school girls, because it was the best we could do.  Love, like leaves, in our conversation.  Until the sirens stopped.

I do not give as the world gives.

I think, sometimes, that if I could choose - life would be easy.  Full of easy things - clear answers pointing the way to right decisions.  No stress.  No worry.  The news would be full of happy stories - stories of joy and laughter, healing and help.  But then I think about the hard times, difficult choices, even unexplainable tragedy and loss.  And I am pulled, kicking and screaming, to the realization that there really is no easy.  Our God - the creator of the universe - our Father in Heaven - is a sovereign God.  There is no explaining.  There is no justifying.  He IS justice.  He IS explanation.  He is beyond our comprehension.

Jesus tried to teach us.  He tried to help us understand.  He tried to bridge our emotions to the circumstances of the world.  Peace - Shalom.  A greeting and a farewell.  A blessing - be at peace, be of good health, let your soul rest.  From Jesus it becomes more than a greeting, and definitely more than a farewell.  He knew the circumstances of his impending sacrifice and death.  He knew the pain he would bear and the sorrow he would leave.  He also knew how to comfort.  His peace - that blessing he gave - that He continues to give - was a  gift of pure love.  His peace.  In the midst of his circumstance, knowing as he knew what was to come, he was at peace - he was a tranquil lake in a hidden place.  He was gentle rain on thirsty ground.  He was the morning dove in the hushed light of dawn.  He was the rising star on a quiet evening.  And he gave that gift - that peace, that sense of balance, that ability to hold off fear - he gave it to his disciples.  And he gave it to us.

I will never understand the tragedies of this world - caused by man or by nature.  I will never understand the whys of them, or the why nots.  I am a child.  I learn.  I grow.  Hopefully, I mature.  Jesus gave us his peace.  I choose to accept it.  Today I will hug my daughter tightly, and I will tell her how much I love her.  Today, I will kiss my husband to work.  Today I will love on my kids at school - precious children to their parents and families. Today, I see hope in the images from Oklahoma.  I will not let my heart be troubled or afraid.  Today I choose joy.

Abba, Father, God - you are.  You have always been.  You will always be.  Thank you for your Son.  Thank you for your peace through Him.  Thank you for hope and joy - 

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