Wednesday, December 19, 2012

One Voice, Then Two, Then Ten, Then...

I don't want to use my blog as a soapbox.  And normally I won't.  But today, I couldn't help myself.  This is my soapbox.  If you don't like soapboxes, I suggest you stop reading here.  You've been warned.

I'm still in a mass of hurt and anger when I think of the Sandy Hook Elementary shootings.  I grieve for young lives not yet lived, for hurting families missing a huge portion of their daily lives.  I grieve for innocence lost as witnesses will never erase that horror from their minds, nor will they ever feel completely safe again.

But a small part of me sits back in confusion.  Yes, the nation and the world are outraged that such an atrocity happened, especially to small children.  And yet... we sit complacently by as hundreds of thousands more innocent children are murdered every single day.  And most of us don't think twice about it.

The abortion debate has raged for as long as abortion has been around, and it still continues in the U.S.A. today.  Advances in science have progressed so much that we can actually know that the baby inside is a living human being.  

I saw my baby's heartbeat on a monitor at eight weeks past conception.  The little bean, the little life.  I was amazed.

Then why is it still legal to kill a human?  An innocent, defenseless human?  Because it's convenient.

Think of how very inconvenient it would be for lawmakers to realize that they have legalized infanticide for decades.  How awful it would be to admit that they had a hand in allowing a genocide to continue in a country that is supposed to stand for freedom from oppression and tyranny.  That's supposed to be a place where the underdog and the underprivileged can come out on top. 

In conversation with a friend a couple of weeks ago, he said, "Abortion will never be outlawed in the U.S. again.  There's no point in voting for government representatives who are against it because it just won't happen."

My heart cringed at those words.  If we give up the fight, even if the odds seem overwhelming, are we not conceding defeat?  

A quote from one of my favorite movies, Newsies, says this: "Sometimes all it takes is a voice, one voice that becomes a hundred, then a thousand, unless it's silenced."  

I will be a voice.  I will be a voice for those that have no voice, whose voices are silenced before they're even born.

The school shooting at Sandy Hook, I think, had little to do with gun control and accessibility to guns.  I didn't know Adam Lanza or his family.  But one thing I do know is that our culture today has little respect for life.  We've slowly become jaded to abortion, violent crime, etc.  Adam Lanza is dead and will not be physically hurting anyone else.  But the source of the problem still remains.  Until our culture can recognize that life, all life, is precious, this problem will continue.

Let's work to become a culture that values life at its very beginning or even its very end (don't get me started on euthanasia - this soapbox can only handle so much).  Let's value life, no matter who's it is, whether it's a white baby or a black baby, a boy baby or a girl baby, a pastor's baby or a rapist's baby.  

Food for thought.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

What Do You Say When The Children Die?

I know the pat answers.  I know them so well, I could say them in my sleep. 

God knows what He's doing.  He has a plan.  He allows humans free will and choice - otherwise we'd be robots.  He loves us so much that he allows us to choose not to follow Him.

Sometimes though, I want to throw the pat answers in front of the bus.  Friday, yesterday, I wanted to scream, throw things, rebel.  "God!" I yelled.  "The kids!  Why couldn't you have stopped the gunman before he shot the kids?"

I know full well that God was able to.  He could have reached His hand into that school, plucked the gun from Adam Lanza's hands, thrown it out the window, and while He was at it, knocked a bit of sense into the guy's head. 

In the terror and anxiety and turmoil of those moments and over the next eternity of hours, I didn't want to hear the pat answers.  I watched my five year old daughter and felt every pang of each parent as they waited for news of their own little one.  I read the tributes written about the kids, how one girl in particular loved to color.  I watched my own daughter at her little worktable doing what she loves best, coloring a picture of an armadillo in bright rainbow colors.  The sight blurred behind a curtain of tears.

The words are gone.  As a writer, that's some shaky, scary ground.  I don't know what to say, and the pat answers sound hollow in my own ears.

All I know is that even when the worst doubts flood me, when in rebellion, I scream my questions to the sky and wait for heaven to strike me down, God is still there and He still loves me through it.  No matter how many tantrums I throw, even whispered denials of my deeply-rooted faith, the facts don't change.  God... is... God.

And when the tantrums are over, my emotions completely exhausted, the tears spent, the peace flows.  I know that I know that I know that God is working, even when I can't see it and even when it makes no sense to me. 

The thing about all those children that day - they were innocent.  Trusting.  Untainted by the world and its cynicism.  Gathered into their Father's hands for an eternity of peace. 

I can lay my agenda aside and seek the innocence of the very young.  And in that innocence, place my hand in God's and trust Him to take me where He wants me to go.

When peace like a river attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll,
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
"It is well, it is well with my soul."
                                     -Horatio Spafford

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

So THIS is Christmas...

"Here."  She handed the bundle to me, the red, wrinkled, squalling face in the middle of a bloodstained white cloth.  "I need to sleep."

She sank back into the prickly straw, grateful, I'm sure, to be off the mule.  Grateful to be rid of the constant jarring journey of the last few days.  Grateful to have the baby on the outside instead of on the inside.

The baby.  I moved my arms so the tiny head was supported by my elbow.  The shrill cries filled the stable, drowning out the low wicker of the horse, the chomp chomp of the cow chewing her cud.  I shifted the bundle until the baby's head nestled into the crook of my neck, brushing my beard with his tiny forehead.

What I felt, I couldn't identify.  This baby didn't belong to me.  My seed didn't help to create this little miracle.  In obedience, I had married the girl lying in the straw.  But so far, we'd never gotten intimate.  Out of impossibility, this very loud, flesh-and-blood infant became possible.  

The angel had said that the child was from God.  What if I had dreamed it?  What if it was all in my imagination?  What if she really had been unfaithful?  And then lied about it?  But no - the angel was real.  I'm sure of it.

Then why me?  And why Mary?  Why had God chosen to allow us to parent His Son?  Out of all the more deserving people in this wide world, why choose a carpenter?  I looked down at my calloused fingers rubbing the baby's back.  So big.  Rough.  Clumsy even.  I bounced the bundle gently.  "Hush now," I whispered.  "You'll wake your mama."

The baby's cries gradually stilled into silence.  I leaned my head back.  His dark eyes slowly disappeared beneath heavy lids.  His tri-cornered mouth opened, shallow breaths drawing in and out.  Sleep, sweet peaceful slumber.

Maybe this wasn't my baby by all the rights of physical DNA.  But I knew my son as he lay on my chest.  I loved my son as he slept deeply.  And I worshiped my Son as I realized his divinity.

"Sleep well, my son," I whispered.  "God's got big plans for you."

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Know, Know, Know

I bent over the open fridge door, straining to see the top shelf.  It was Sunday, my husband was home, and I needed to come up with something for lunch.  The kids like peanut butter and honey sandwiches.  I don't mind them.  Tim usually doesn't care for them much.  He prefers leftovers.  

I grabbed the bread bag off the top shelf and untwisted the tie.  Tim brushed by me on his way through the kitchen.  

"No," he said. 

My hands stilled.  "What?"

"That question you were gonna ask.  Just no."

What the -? "What question was I gonna ask?"

"You'll see."  He grinned and headed back to the bedroom to change clothes.

What in the world is he talking about?  I'm not going to ask him a question.  I grabbed the peanut butter and put my husband's ridiculousness out of my mind.  Honey next.  How many slices of bread do I need for the kids?  Oh, maybe Tim wants one.  "Tim, did you want... a... sandwich... Oh."  My voice trailed off mid-sentence as I realized I just asked the question he had already given me an answer to.

We both burst into laughter, but underneath the hilarity, it felt good.  It felt right that my husband knows me so well that he'll know what I'm gonna say sometimes before I even say it.  

That intimate knowledge covers a lot of stuff.  Not just the good, but the bad and the ugly too.  I don't hide from him.  He knows all of me.

Kinda like that Creator God, you know?  The one that "created my inmost being; [He] knit me together in my mother’s womb." (Psalm 139:13).  It feels good to be known.  To be known like that.  I'm never going to surprise God.  He'll never be shocked at what I come up with next.  I'm glad I can be exactly who He made me to be, quirks, hangups, dorky-ness, stubborness, fetish for mayonnaise, the whole sha-bang. 

Thanks, God.  I really like that about You. :)