"Sometimes the smallest things take up the most room in your heart." -Winnie the Pooh

Monday, October 11, 2010

Life or Death...

No, we're not dying. Yes, we're very much alive.  But it seems lately that we're being hit with our fair share of tragedy...and it also would seem that some of our friends are too. 

This post won't be a "normal" one.  No pictures (which you know kills me!). And not the most lighthearted one either.  But something that we are surrounded by.  God keeps driving this point home--Ultimately, HE is in control.
Many of you saw on my Facebook status last week that David is serving as an interim youth minister at a church in Columbus, MS.  He's been doing that for about a month now, and we are very much enjoying this experience.  It's fun to have a ministry together.  Challenging, yes, but we love loving on some junior high and high schoolers! 

Last Saturday night (10/2), a girl in our youth group was killed.  She was 16 years old riding in the car with two of her friends.  The driver swerved to miss a deer.  None of the girls were wearing seatbelts, and she was killed instantly.  The driver and other passenger walked away unscathed.  Tragedy.  

So many questions.  So many thoughts.  Why being the number one.  Why God would you take away such a young life? WHY? Why did you have to end her life?  WHY? Why, if you promise to protect your children and those that love you, did you decide to let this one die?  WHY?  Why make all of her friends walk through this event at such a young age?  WHY?  Why ask those close to her, her family, friends, and community to walk through such a tragedy? WHY?

And just as we walk through this, we watch friends that we know and love walk amidst similar tragedies in their families.  Many of you know Simon and Ashley Bailey (click name for blog) who just found out that Ashley's mom is extremely sick. Why take a loving mom and family who loves God and put them through what they are walking through?  Many of you also know our friends Brett and Laura Beth Williams (click name for blog).  Laura Beth recently lost her aunt who was the mother of two young boys.  Why God do you ask these young boys to not grow up with a mom?  Why take LB's aunt away?

I spent a long time asking God these things on the drive to Columbus for visitation and the funeral last Tuesday and Wednesday night.  I've been doing a bible study on the Psalms. We happened to be on Psalm 125 (Holmon Christian Standard) which says:

"1. Those who trust in the LORD are like Mt. Zion.
They will not be shaken. They remain forever.
2. Jerusalem--the mountains surround her
And the LORD surrounds His people
Both now and forever.
3. The scepter of the  wicked will not remain over the land allotted to the righteous
So that the righteous will not apply their hands to injustice.
4. Do what is good, LORD to the good
to those whose hearts are upright.
5. But as for those who turn aside to crooked ways
the LORD will banish them with the evil doers."

In verse two, it says the LORD surrounds his people.  In the bible study, it was depicted like mountains surrounding us.  Mountains are harsh, jagged, and protect what they are surrounding.  And how God does not let anything in that He didn't see fit.  Not letting us have more then we can handle.  Then verse four says "Do what's good to those whose hearts are in tune with you" (new living translation).  Why would God let such tragedy come into our lives.  To people who love the LORD? To those He SURROUNDS?

Honestly, I don't have an answer.  I know that God is just in whatever He does. I KNOW THAT.  And I KNOW that He is faithful!  But why?  I ask God this all the time.  And it struck me.  What if God's "good" is not what I see as "good."  God likes glory.  He wants all the glory I have.  He wants your glory. He wants OUR glory!  So "good" to Him means me not understanding. BUT knowing that He just is.  I can ask why all day long. I can literally let it paralyze me that we endure such heartaches. Such tragedy.  But ultimately, he does things to get glory.  How? I don't know...but I can share with you what I saw on Wednesday at the funeral of a 16 year old.

The pastor talked about how we can know that she was in heaven.  Not because she did a bunch of good things, but because she had salvation in Christ.  In reading my friend Laura Beth's blog, I came across something that was shared at the funeral of her aunt.

"In no way do I want to discredit the life that my Aunt Michelle lived.  She was a great wife.  She was THE BEST mom.  She was one of the most giving people that I knew.  She loved people with everything that she had.  She went to church.  She lived a good life.  By the World's standards, Aunt Michelle was a good person and "deserves" to go to Heaven.

They are wrong.  It is not the "good" things that she did.  It is Christ in her.  It is the decision that she made to make Jesus Christ the Lord of her life.  It is that moment when she realized that Jesus came to this Earth, lived a sinless life, and died on the cross for her sins.  It is because she had a RELATIONSHIP, not a religion.  It is because of that, and only that, that I will be able to see her again."

The pastor at the funeral I attended shared something similar.  During the funeral about 45-60 people stood to say that they had accepted Christ during her funeral--most of which were youth.  I know that all of them may or may not plug into a church to be discipled, but regardless, because of this 16 year old, God got glory.  And my understanding of what is good was shattered.  To God be the glory. 

I'll finish by giving one more of Laura Beth's excerpts (and I'm sorry LB, I have taken every bit of your blog post now!)  But it says it so perfectly:

"It is my prayer, and I know that it would be [Aunt Michelle's] too, that if you don't know Christ as your personal Savior that you would surrender your life to Him THIS very moment.  Don't put it off.  As we have seen with my Aunt Michelle, we are not promised tomorrow.  No matter how young.  No matter how healthy.  We just don't know.  Do it now.  So that you can spend eternity with our Heavenly Father.  It is either Heaven or it is Hell.  There is no in between.  And it is only through Christ that we can escape Hell, because that is what we deserve."

Lastly, in bible study we talked about how when we are saved by Christ, we are surrounded by His crown of thorns that He wore when he died at Calvary.  Like the mountains, that crown of thorns only lets in what He sees as good.  God surrounds His people with that crown of thorns.  WE are covered by the blood when we are saved by His grace.  And forever....HE WILL GET THE GLORY!

This song was on a CD given to us recently in how to help the students cope.  I'm finding it to be such a good expression of how I feel...both during this tragedy, but life in general!

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