Last week I flew to Oklahoma to help care for my dad. His MS continues to take a little more of him every day, but wonder of wonders, it has not stolen his happy demeanor and lively spirit. Daddy is as kind a man as you’ve ever met, but let me tell you, he can be so hilariously ornery. His memory slips and slides, but he can still tell you which former President of the United States he takes issue with and why. He remembers to use his favorite phrase when he tastes something he doesn’t like. (That’s gag-a-maggot!) He remembers a lot of the words to Johnny Cash’s “Cry Cry Cry” and “Walk the Line.” He remembers to tell you he loves you in his thick Okie accent that would remind you of Blake Shelton’s.
As I sat with Daddy last week, all these little things reminded me that no matter how deep the disease tries to burrow inside him, God’s grace burrows deeper still.
So I hold those things he does remember like fireflies in a mayonnaise jar, little lights for the dark days when I miss the way he used to be.
I fly back home to Rocky Mountain country, and not long after my favorite four pick me up from the Denver airport do we hear the heartbreaking, soul-tearing news: 21 Christians beheaded in Libya the day after Valentine’s Day. The weight of that real life tragedy is enough to snuff out whatever light I have because really, who can shine while the world lobs evil to such an unfathomable degree?
I see those 21 faces in a photo and I can’t forget them, 21 lights in the dark on a far away beach.
My daughter told me recently Mama, you sure like to look outside windows. And I smile at her and say Why yes I do, Faith. I like to stare outside windows because when I look out a window, I usually find hope looking back in.
I see hope and and a way to enter into that hope.
Between the jarring difficulties of last week and the rush of difficult news this week, I’ve been staring out the windows a lot lately. The hope seems a little harder to find, but it’s not impossible.
No matter the depth of tragedy, God’s grace is deeper still.
So my family and I pray for the families of the martyrs, the martyrs themselves, and that the men in black behind them become modern day Pauls rather than persecutors. It’s one thing we do to show we believe this:
No matter the depth of evil, God’s love is deeper still.
It’s how we enter into the suffering and be a light for those surrounded by dark.
The Lenten season has begun, and I realize afresh just how much I need forgiveness. I realize afresh my heart has dark corners of its own, that on my own I have a hard time doing what I’m asked to do: Love the unlovely.
But when I enter into the Lenten season and sit with Jesus, I see that where my love runs out, His love runs through. It points to the ultimate light that says Because Jesus died on the cross and rose, all wrongs will be made right.
“The resurrection declares in advance of the event God’s total victory over all evil and oppressive forces–such as death, evil and sin. Their backbone has been broken, and we may begin to live now in the light of that victory, knowing that the long night of their oppression will end.” ~ Alister E. McGrath, from Bread and Wine
We may live now within the long night of devastating disease and violence. But because we also know of the victory Jesus brings, we can live and love and pray in the light today, too.
No matter the depths of darkness, God’s light is brighter still.
And then I lean against the window and see how the light floods everything, reflecting Hope wherever it shines.