Posted tagged ‘tragedy’

The Deaths of Two

December 22, 2015

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                     December 21, 2015

                                           

This past week has been a time of death. That may sound morbid and dark, but it is the reality of the blessing of lives lived and dreams unfinished.

One death was of our church’s former pastor, a man who impacted many lives and dealt with a number of health difficulties, although the seeds for his death may have come as a result of an accident a few months ago. Regardless, death came… and took… and left confusion behind. Grandchildren were left wondering. Friends recalled shared events, conversations had, camping trips taken.

There was sadness, and yet understanding.

The second death was of a sixteen year old young man. It was most unexpected and hard to accept. Death does not discriminate between ages. Although it mostly accompanies the elderly to the next life, sometimes it chooses a different partner that takes the breath away from those left behind.

Death seems to be especially hard at Christmas time, and, unfortunately, more frequent. Our own family views Christmas a little differently now since my father-in-law passed away on Christmas Day nine years ago. In the midst of our kids and grandkids and son-in-laws there is still a whisper of loss as we remember Christmases past.

The family of the sixteen year old are being supported by numerous friends and family as they walk through this, but there are deep wounds inside them that will take lifetimes to heal. Death is like that. It comes and stays. Even when we try to shove it into the attics of our memories it knocks on the ceilings of our hearts to remind us that something…or someone is missing.

The walk through the valley that is overshadowed by death (Psalm 23:4) takes on new meaning as people struggle on.

Our hope is in the last part of Psalm 23:4. “I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and staff, they comfort me.” 

Although very few of us are comfortable with death, we can take comfort in knowing who walks with us.

Bellying Up To God

December 16, 2015

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                  December 15, 2015

                                         

The group of senior folk sat around tables, enjoying the warmth of the room and fellowship. The study of the scripture passage had included a high amount of discussion and viewpoints. The cookies had long ago disappeared and coffee cups were empty. It was time to share prayer concerns…who was having a tough time, who was under the weather, who was on their way to full recovery.

A gentle ninety-something lady softly asked if she could take a minute to share a concern. Everyone knew that a heartache was about to be expressed. It was the day after fourteen people had been gunned down in San Bernardino, California…and less than a week since the shootings of three people in Colorado Springs.

There was a silence that fell upon the group. She began.

“I’m so upset by what is happening in our world. What is going on? It seems that there’s a mass shooting about every day…and I think we need to do something about it.”

“What are you thinking?” asked the group leader.

“I think we need to belly up to God! We need to get down on our knees and cry out to him.”

Twenty heads around the tables nodded. “Belly up to God”, the phrase seemed bold and urgent. Tragedy has a way of bringing courage bubbling to the surface. It resonated in the troubled wrinkled faces of each of the people.

There was a moment of pause and then the group went to prayer, praying with a sense of closeness to the throne of grace, praying with confused minds but trusting spirits. The confusion wasn’t with the One, but with the hostility that had seemed to come and take residence in the actions of people towards others that they didn’t even know.

The group bellied up to God in divine belief. The prayer time ended and they hugged and encouraged one another as they exited.

“Why” still echoed through them, but they believed that the answers could only be understood through the Almighty. Some questions would never be answered satisfactorily, but they knew He had heard their hearts.

The Closeness of Loss

September 6, 2015

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                  September 6, 2015

                                            

There are certain events in life that leave us gasping for breath. Not “take your breath away”, but rather struggling to take the next breath.

In recent weeks I’ve had several people that I’ve known for years experience loss or sorrow that is so overwhelming that it is beyond words, and numbing to emotions.

When loss comes close to us we walk the valley of the shadow of death that seems to have no end. There is darkness ahead and memories behind.

Three of my former classmates at Judson College experienced this yesterday. One of them was my first roommate at the college; his first wife a good friend of mine; and her second husband my cross-country teammate and guy that I would “hang out with.” Their daughter and step-daughter was killed in a head-on car collision this weekend. What can you say to someone that experiences the tentacles of loss wrapped so tightly around their lives that their souls gasp in agony? There is nothing you can say to tell them it will be okay…because it won’t be okay!

When loss comes close it is a pain that keeps stabbing. Each Christmas it pricks the memories of the mind, the remembering of days gone by, the tragedy of a future forfeited.

Followers of Jesus are the worst at walking with someone who is grieving…and also the best. We sometimes convey trite spiritually-sounding words like “She’s in a better place!” and “All things work for good!” But we also are prone to “be with’ the grieving…just to be…to mourn with the mourners and walk silently with those who are hearing the loud aches of loss.

When loss comes close we come to know in a very intimate personal way the reality of David’s words “I cried out to God for help; I cried out to God to hear me. When i was in distress, I sought the Lord; at night I stretched out untiring hands and my soul refused to be comforted. I remembered you, O God, and I groaned; i mused, and my spirit grew faint.” (Psalm 77:1-3, NIV)

Interestingly enough, yesterday we had a call from Colorado Springs Police Department. My wife carol could not get to the phone before the call ended, and the CSPD did not leave a message. She immediately called me and I called the police department to see what the call was about. As soon as Carol ended her call to me she went to her knees in prayer. Her thoughts were about one of our children and grandchildren. Had something happened? As I called the police department my hands were shaking. When I finally got someone on the line she told me it was concerning an elderly person who had gone missing from an eldercare place close to us.

But our thoughts were of the closeness of loss!

My friends are experiencing the closeness of loss that will change their lives forever…and I weep with them!

Adjusting to Speed Bumps

June 29, 2012

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                     June 29, 2012

The fires here in Colorado Springs have been devastating to so many people, and the ripple effect of business impact will be felt soon also as businesses on the west side of the city in evacuated areas try to recoup their losses from days of being closed.

It has been amazing to see the reactions of community members, outpouring support and supplies. On the other side, it has been amazing to see that two arrests have been made of people looting an evacuated home. The thieves had “meth” on them as they were trying to steal some items to sell to get more “meth.”

Awesome citizens, those two!

It has also been interesting to view how different people have reacted in different ways. Some have been thankful for the sacrifice and willingness to be in harm’s way of the 1,000+ firefighters. Some have expressed thankfulness for human lives being saved, even in the midst of so many homes destroyed. Some have lashed out in anger at whoever might be a possible target. Some are experiencing guilt even in the midst of their discoveries of homes untouched. There’s the relief of residences still being there, but guilt because neighbors have lost everything that was in their homes.

People have questioned why God didn’t do more, or why God allowed something like this to happen? I mean, shouldn’t God have provided a hedge of protection around the neighborhoods impacted? There is a sense with some people that the Creator should provide “perfect nature”- sunny and 70 degrees, with rain only in the middle of the night when we’re sleeping so our activity schedule doesn’t get impacted, a slight breeze that feels good…and a white picket fence.

But perhaps we should see an event such as the fires as the time to rethink, refocus, reprioritize, and re-thank!

In our lives there are certain moments that stand out from the rest- the birth of our first child, our wedding, our first touchdown, the death of a grandparent, a car accident, a fire. Moments can be joy-filled or grief-stricken, but moments such as these have the potential to slow us down for a moment.

They are like speed bumps that need a different pace to them, a cautionary approach. Most of us want the smooth road, like Interstate 80 through Nebraska, where we can race along at top speeds…and yet we complain because Nebraska doesn’t have that much scenery along the highway to make us “ooo and ahh!”

The speed bumps in our lives cause us to ponder “why”, “what now”, and “where to?”

Here in our city there are also different kinds of speed bumps. There are speed bumps that are like road ripples, and then there are speed bumps that will damage your car is you try to stay at the usual driving speed. In other words, some require more consideration than others.

The fire is a huge bump that will require much consideration, and yet, since I believe in the Lord of the Impossible, I believe that something life-transforming in positive ways can come out of it.