Tragedy--the pathway to Triumph

But when the kindness and love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. Titus 3:4-7 Dear Sweet Moms,

I greet you this December day in the spirit of the kindness and love of our precious Lord. He pours out His abundant love and grace each and every day. He, as a good Father, wants us to be heirs of His glory and blessing. Above all, we have hope in this life—hope that He knows us, guides us, will bring us safely home into His presence where we will see Him face to face and be filled with His joy. We also have freedom from guilty or anger or inadequacy because of His provision, abundantly given through the Holy Spirit.

Yesterday, our family readied ourselves for church on a cold, 9 degree morning. Wondering if the roads would be okay to travel because of the snow the night before, we left early enough to be able to make the trek slowly.

A wonderful time of worship focused all of us on the eternal attributes of the Lord—His kindness, mercy, love, grace and sovereignty, through music. Our hearts were filled with anticipation. We all sat quietly to hear the message God had put on the heart of the visiting speaker, a wonderful older man of God. His heartfelt message pointed us to have a soft heart to be able not just to know, but to really hear the message of God coming to the world to bring hope and redemption.

As the service ended, we lingered in the foyer to greet friends, to rest in the atmosphere of peace that we all sensed from such a heartfelt message. Finally, five of us gathered to meet family friends for lunch. As we left the busy church parking lot, we passed Nathan, our son, who waved energetically as he drove off to meet with some other friends for lunch.

Within minutes of our departure, a gunman began to shoot wildly into the crowds where we had just been lingering in peace. One of my dear friends, the mother of one of Joy’s best friends, the leader of our homeschool support group of 600, was driving away with her husband, two of her daughters and a young woman who lived with them. The gunman turned toward them, shot directly at their family. The side passenger windows were immediately shattered as glass sprayed everywhere. The front window then exploded. And as the bullets sprayed into their small sedan, the seats were ripped and torn, and my friend realized that she was hit.

Her husband raced out of the parking lot, and without turning back, went hurtling toward the emergency room of our local hospital. Though the sadness of such a tragedy filled all of us with heavy hearts, we praise the Lord for the amazing miracles that He did perform. Amazingly, my friend only had a minor wound as the bullet tore straight across the top of her shoulder. How could six rounds of bullets discharged at fairly close range actually miss killing or severely injuring any of their family members, hitting the upholstery instead of the girls huddled in the back of a small car.

So far, three lives came to an end violently yesterday at our church. We spent the rest of the day as a family praying, pondering, comforting and seeking the Lord.

“He was despised and rejected by men, A man of sorrows, acquainted with grief,…, Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows, But he was wounded for out transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities, The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.” Isaiah 53: 4-5

Jesus came as a “man of sorrows, acquainted with grief.” He bore the iniquity of us all—even of the madman of yesterday—out of His redeeming love. He came to grant us hope and peace. The message of Christmas this year, will mean more than ever. We are not a people left alone, to struggle with the rages and rampaging devastations of the sin alone. No, our message is that we have a transcendent God, ruler of the universe, who because of his incomprehensible love, has made a reconciliation for all times, for all people for all the evil that will exist during the short time we are alive on this earth.

As we talked until almost midnight, all of our children seemed to communicate as if from one heart. This incidence makes clear that they all want to be more intentional about giving His generous love, and forgiveness and grace to those who so desperately need hope. Each said that they wanted to find their place in God’s kingdom work. Each bowed their heart before the Father, asking for His power to live faithfully for Him.

The newscasts will focus on the tragedy. Yes, we indeed need to keep those precious families who will feel so much pain and grief as they live this Christmas without their beloved ones in our prayers.

Yet, I see the mighty hand of God at work. I see Him catalyzing an army of His children, in the ponderings of what really matters in life, to ready themselves to fight more valiantly in the battle raging in this world—the battle for righteousness for His sake for His kingdom, and the battle for the allegiance to Him in the hearts of our children. Though the enemy seeks to destroy and kill, our confidence is secure—“Greater is He who is in us than He who is in the world. He has overcome the world.” May we continue boldly in the spirit of over-coming. May the Savior Himself speak to your heart in the deepest places during this season of celebration of the meaning of His coming— the true significance of His sacrifice, and the joy of His resurrection of our lives beyond the limited time and space of our world—into the eternity that we will spend with Him in the place He has lovingly created for us where we will truly be at home! Blessings of His peace to you this December day. Love and grace, Sally

In light of this event, I find I am so galvanized to teach the Word of God, to encourage, to help you precious moms in the coming conferences. We pray for all of you who will attend, that you will know your strategic places in the realm of history as you invest your days in your homes for His glory! I hope that many of you will be able to be with us at our mom’s conferences this year.