Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Beautiful Endings

Lancaster. Just the mere name of the area in Pennsylvania conjures up beautiful scenes in my mind and memory. I think of the beautiful mountains and the wonderful people we call the Amish. I grew up about 2 hours North of Lancaster. I didn’t experience a whole lot of who they were or thier culture, but what I did know is that they lived a life of simplicity and serenity.
So many times in life we step back and wonder what kind of God we serve who will allow such evil to befall his people. Evil. I have wondered and I have questioned my God about the evil that has touched my life. I have stood with my fists raised and cursed my God. I have yelled and screamed and blamed him for the evil that touched me. I have sat in the seat of bitterness and resentment and stroked the pain and hurt that was a result of that evil. I built walls around myself to protect the wound and keep me safe from further pain. I walked in the valley of suffering by choice.
We ask, how can any good come from the innocent murder of children? There is no easy answer to that. But, if you step back and look into this situation with spiritual eyes and a seeking heart there are answers…
We have all read that the Amish community extended the invitation to the widow of the murderer of thier children to the funeral. Which is a very holy thing to the Amish. It is a celebration (as is should be) of the passing of this life and body to the ultimate joy. The presence of our Father. They extend this mercy to the widow and go the family in love, out of their own brokeness to love and reach out to those who society would shun. The family of the murderer. This is obedience. Faith in action.
What a testimony not of the Amish lifestyle, but of love and of openness. I don’t know about you, but I have been there and done that whole forgivness stuff. It is one of the hardest things that I as a Christian have ever had to do. I remember knowing in my heart that I had to forgive (so my Father in heaven would forgive me). I also remember feeling nothing in my heart but rage, hate, and blackness. This is not an easy thing to do. It was by blind faith and obedience that I spoke with my lips, “God, I know this is what you want. I know I have to forgive. I don’t feel it in my heart. But I confess this with my lips as an act of my will. As an act of obedience. Make this forgivness real in my heart.” And you know the funny thing is. It happened. I can’t tell you when. But it did. It wasn’t an immediate thing. It wasn’t an overnight thing. But I kept at it. I made the choice to forgive. I took that step towards God, I made the choice. God met me there at the cross road. I don’t sit in bitterness anymore. I am not surrounded by that wall of blame and pain. God honored the cry of my heart.
A friend told me about an interview on CNN yesterday with some spokesman for the Amish church. The commentator asked the spokesman if forgiveness is important. Here is what the spokesman said, “Forgiveness is a choice”. How beautiful is that? Forgiveness is a choice. It requires action on our part. He also went on to explain that it is also a “Faith” thing. He said that is is alot easier to hate and hold on to resentment, than it is to forgive. I can’t think of anything more cool than to have millions of people hear such a statement on TV. How many people do you think heard that?? I mean REALLY heard that? How nany lives will be changed by that inteview?
The loss of innocent lives is a tragedy. To lose a child is like walking thru hell. To bury your own baby is a thought that I can’t imagine. But as a believer, I have to believe that there is a divine law in place. That there is purpose higher than my mortal mind can comprehend. That in God’s hands and unending mercy and love there are always beautiful endings even in suffering.

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