Yesterday, just after Living Room (our Sunday night small group for teens) started I realized that I didn’t have a working can opener which meant that I wouldn’t have pumpkin for my pumpkin muffins which would have rendered them completely useless. So I called up our awesome neighbor Gina and she invited me over to use hers. As I walked into her home I noticed that the news was on. It took me about two seconds to register that there had been another shooting. And when Gina filled me in briefly that it has been during a church service in Texas and that there were many casualties including the pastor’s 14 year old daughter, my heart just absolutely dropped.
I walked back home in despair for those people and that church and their community. And I finished my pumpkin muffins and fed them to the awesome teens that came to our group last night and then I shared with them how God wanted to do great things in their life. Our lesson last night concluded with the idea that their approach to life was kind of like when it was the 4th of July and you got to hold those small individual sparklers. I told them they could live their lives only about themselves and their sparklers but in all reality, it would be kind of small and it would go out quick. Or, they could lay down their own sparkler and instead go and be a part of God’s “Fireworks” or His plan which was something bigger and greater than they could imagine. I compared it to the incredible display of fireworks (which probably cost thousands and was much bigger and lasted much longer than a single sparkler) that we witnessed this past summer in Seattle captured as best I could in the picture below.
But when they all left and our own kids were safely tucked in bed for the night, my mind started reeling. I could feel the sadness and depression sinking in as I read article after article on the church shooting that had occurred earlier that day. I wondered how it was possible that this year, news of shootings seemed to be a bit of the norm. I grieved for the many lives and losses and wondered how it would be that those families would ever move forward. It felt for those moments like the bad things in the world were just bigger and that life truly was overwhelmingly sad and scary and unpredictable.
But somewhere in the middle of the night I woke up to the realization. Yes, I could be easily depressed every single day about how horrible the bad things in our world were. Or, I could do something about it. I could be a force of good. I could look for ways to love the world every single day. It could start in my own heart and in my own home, but then I could spread it out to others and spread it out to the world. And with this thought and in this moment, I felt the sadness start to fade as it was replaced with the beauty of hope.
Life is not about us holding our own little sparker. Life is about being a part of something bigger and greater than ourselves. And that is my encouragement for myself and that is my encouragement for everyone reading this right now. And also, I know for fact that God loves you and He has a greater plan for your life than you could ever dream. Yes, this world is broken and the problems and the heartbreaks just seem to keep coming. But Jesus says in John 16:33, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Truth for today. Take heart because Jesus has overcome. And go and be a force of good.