She skipped down the stairs, and I watched her as she sang to herself the whole way to our van. Her red curls blew in the wind, mingling with the same colored fur of her Beary Bear clutched in her embrace. She looked up and grinned and kept singing, and my eyes filled.
She is six. The age of many of the children lost last week in a rampage that has left me speechless.
Her beauty is breathtaking, and I imagine my life without her, and my soul feels as if it cannot breathe.
We have been bombarded since Friday with information and ideas and suggestions and opinions and reasons why. I have read laments and I have read rants and I have read lies and I have read truth. I have seen fingers pointed at God and fingers pointed at not enough God. I have hidden from social media because it all became too much, and I just want to ask everyone “Who has known the mind of God?” that they speak with such authority on why He allowed this happen.
I have wrapped presents and thought about those parents who will leave gifts on shelves, and I’ve wondered how… when… would… you ever take them off the shelf? Or would you just leave them as a memorial to a beautiful life ripped heartlessly away from you?
I have wept. I have feared. I have raged. I have struggled. I have shaken my head at the careless words of others. I have applauded those who are brave enough to speak into the darkness with light.
I, like many, have tried to make sense of tragedy, and I have found that it comes down to this… there is no making sense of sin.
Sin is selfishness, through and through… whether it’s Lucifer saying Heaven wasn’t good enough and wanting to overthrow God or Adam and Eve biting into that fruit…whether it’s the sin of a man who steals life in the confusion of his own, or whether it’s the sin of my words slicing the air and crushing the spirit of my child. Sin makes it all about me.
All through the blogosphere I read how we need to grab our kids and hug them and tell them we love them every day, and I agree. But not out of fear… not out of “what if…?”… not out of “it may be the last time I see them…” No. Let me love and hug my children because they need it, because it will grow them, because the heaviness in their step might lift if they know someone believes in them. So, yes, let me devour them with love, but for their good and not to soothe my own fears or relieve some false guilt in my own heart.
It is so easy to make safety an idol. My safety… their safety… Yet this frenetic “grab every moment of life” will only wear me out if I don’t look at life realistically. It is hard and it is painful. I cannot protect our children from everything and let them live at the same time. The cry of Advent is strong in our world. Children die every day across the globe. I see the headlines. I have heard the stories from the lips of Iraqi refugees of the bombings and the gunfire that were part of their daily life.
I find myself at times like these wondering if God has forgotten this world… if He’s just given up on us.
But then the truth strikes… it is I who have forgotten.
I have tasted the howl of Advent, the longing, the waiting, and I stay in the howling stage, and I have forgotten.
God with us.
He has come.
Darkness has been overcome.
The God Who sent His Son… glory in a virgin’s womb… royalty submitting to earthly parents… perfection tasting the sadness of earth… eminence dying naked on a cross beaten and bloodied… majesty buried in a tomb but raising again to life…God… GOD sacrificing His life for mine…
How could I think He’s forgotten when the Cross screams so loudly of His remembrance?
I have today and I have eternity, too.
God and sinners reconciled.
So tomorrow when we sleep in and start the first of many days of vacation together, I will watch my children with the same breathtaking awe that I do on many occasions–humbled that these gifts have been given to me today, this day… and while I am looking at this day, He is seeing eons.
And we will live.
After all, isn’t that what Christmas is all about?