Kevin and I spent the last two days camping in the Sawtooth Mountain Range in Idaho, a place so beautiful all the other states are jealous. . . We camped on the shores of Redfish Lake and went paddleboarding with our three month old puppy, Daphne. Yes, we have become those “dog” people. . . Standing on my paddleboard, with Daphne at my feet, and staring at the beautiful mountains, I had one of those, “This is so incredible. How can it be happening to me” moments.
And then we drove home, and as we drove home and re-connected with the world, we began seeing news of another mass shooting. This time in Florida more than 50 people killed in a gay nightclub. I thought of my gay friends in Idaho and wondered if they were ok. I texted a friend to ask, “Are you okay? We love you" I remembered how vulnerable I felt when the attacks happened on 9/11. I remembered the strange feelings of, “Why would someone want to hurt me just because I live in this country, just because of who I am?” And I realized that is how my gay friends are feeling right now. Attacked, vulnerable, scared, sad, heartbroken and a lot of emotions I have no inkling of, because I am just me and there is so much I don't know.
I sat down this morning to read my Bible and talk things out with God. I read Psalm 140, “God, get me out of here, away from this evil, protect me from these vicious people.” I felt just like this. “Please God, get me out of this evil all around me.” I started thinking about the sad state of American politics and how our country is not likely to improve any time soon (sometimes I can be pretty cynical - my husband can confirm this. . . ). I began to feel pretty sorry for my country and myself.
Then I started listening to God and my next prayer was, “Please God, help me not let fear win. There will always be people to love, no matter my situation, no matter who is president, no matter what horrible thing occurs next. There will always be people around me to love. Help me do that - exclusively.”
It’s so easy to let fear win, especially when something as evil as a mass shooting happens. I know the only way fear will not win in me is if I choose to believe Jesus is who he says he is, and I am who Jesus says I am. There is great power in knowing this.
Today, I see my country living hard into fear and I am sad, although I understand it. I see the news reports, and it’s so easy to let fear worm itself inside me. If I am going to keep fear at bay, I must acknowledge fear is always a threat and I must consciously work to thwart it. The only way I can accomplish this is to walk every step of every day arm and arm with Jesus, because I know I will never chase fear away on my own. It is not possible.
Rick McKinley says, “I would define true freedom as the ability to live fully, love boldly, and fear nothing, and if you want to know what that looks like in action, then you have to look at Jesus.” The Answer to Our Cry
I want to live fully, love boldly, and fear nothing. There is always someone to love. All I have to do is look around and there they are - a neighbor, a friend, a newly arrived refugee - always, there is another person who needs my love. Who needs your love. I’m going to focus on that, because anger and hurt and hate cannot chase away evil. Only love can.
“But here within the framework of a heart captured by the love of God, I see a world of possibility, a world in which the rain of love is everywhere breaking in and the noise of futility fades. Here I see with the eyes of faith that I am the beloved and he is mine. I see that I have been set free and brought into the Father’s house of love. I see the Spirit’s cry within my heart that God is my Abba Father. And there in that moment, I am fully alive with the bold love, nothing to fear, and a Father who embraces me in the face of Jesus through the presence of the Holy Spirit. I am home.” Rick McKinley, The Answer to Our Cry