Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Stay in the Story

On Saturday I spoke at my home church about our need as Christians to stay in our story with God, to stay in our story as followers of Jesus, living engaged with our world. I spoke about the need for us to keep pushing into the pain and suffering and joy and laughter that surrounds us. I challenged each of us to stay engaged and not look away or hide from the hard things in our world.

“This is our vocation: to take up our cross, and be Jesus for the whole world, living with the joy and sorrow woven into the pattern of our days.” N.T. Wright

And then Brussels. Brussels, a place I have visited, an airport I have traveled through. Belgium, a country that has been a delight in every visit, the people helpful and polite and the chocolate heavenly. 

Cruel, ugly, frightening death and terror. Again. Kevin and I are scheduled to spend two weeks in Europe in April, including Brussels and Amsterdam. Yesterday, we woke to the too familiar news of yet another terror attack.

If you would like to judge me for not writing about the near constant terror attacks that occur in other parts of the globe, I hope you’ll pause. Because for many of us who react with more emotion to certain places when harm is done to them, I would just say this: We have visited those places. We know people in those cities. We have eaten in those restaurants, ridden on that metro. The same was true of Paris. Those are familiar places to us and that they could be the recipient of such horror and death, shocks us. It doesn’t mean we care less about death in Turkey or Syria or Nigeria. It is simply that we can personally relate to Brussels and Paris and London and New York, because we have memories there. And perhaps because we have been in these places, it scares us more because it could have happened when we were there. This brings our mortality front and center.

This world pushes me into prayer more and more. The apostle Paul wasn’t kidding when he said, “Pray without ceasing.”

All this is happening while Kevin and I are tucked away in the Idaho mountains enjoying a last hurrah of fresh powder and XC skiing in surroundings so beautiful it takes away my breath. It is a surreal thing to be texting a friend in Europe, checking on her safety, while staring out the window as snow gently falls to earth. Our world is getting smaller.

I was reminded today while gliding along fresh snow, surrounded by white-frosted pine trees and the sound of a distant woodpecker, of the need to get outdoors into nature. I was reminded of the craving of my mind and body to experience quiet and peace and beauty in nature. In Idaho we are spoiled. There are few people and a lot of mountains, rivers and deserts to explore and experience.

Let’s stay in the world, in the middle of the mess and walk arm and arm with Jesus, because that is the only way to survive. And when you do, when you stay engaged, when you relentlessly continue to push into the pain and suffering and joy and laughter in this world, you will see Jesus working miracle after miracle. And it will change you. You will discover that what you started out to do (being Jesus to the world around you) has really changed you the most - that the person who received the biggest blessing is you.

“The Spirit, however, gives you joyful fearlessness by making you more aware of reality. It assures you that you are a child of the only One whose opinion and power matters. He loves you to the stars and will never let you go.” Timothy Keller, Prayer -  experiencing awe and intimacy with God

“Above all, love one another deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8

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