Tuesday, March 24, 2015

when sad stories make space for hope of redemption

Today, there seem to be fires and smoke everywhere I turn. Yesterday brought a few sad stories my way. Today I carry in prayer the weight of life's pain, and my mind rests in the hope of redemption. Because, in one way or another, haven't we seen this all happen before?

I grew up in Southern California, in east Orange County, where Santa Ana winds blow sparks into wildfires and mud slides pull houses down hillsides.

me with my brother c1980

I remember seeing my parents on our roof with a hose several times, hoping to extinguish any stray ember that might come our way.

I remember friends whose homes shifted and swayed when a fire was followed by a storm. The burnt ground couldn't hold up to the gushing floodwaters.

In elementary school I can recall walking home from school under a black smoky sky, as ashes fell white and other-worldly all around. I wondered if the Russians had bombed us at last, and if this was the end of the world.

Our home never did catch fire, and the world moved on after arsonists were caught and jailed for ruining land, homes, and life for many.

After a bad fire one year, my parents told me one that some people in the canyons who had lost very old homes were faced with a sad reality. They couldn't rebuild their houses just as they had been originally built.

The old designs were not up to current codes, and it would be illegal to rebuild in the same way.

Sometimes more than wood and brick burn in the fires people set. Life can burn up our dreams and comforts, the evidence of our memories can rise with the smoke, too.

But maybe that's where all of life is heading: up to the heavens as a vapor of glory to the God who holds it all in His hands.

"Oh, how sweet the light of day,
And how wonderful to live in the sunshine!
Even if you live a long time, don’t take a single day for granted.
Take delight in each light-filled hour,
Remembering that there will also be many dark days
And that most of what comes your way is smoke.
You who are young, make the most of your youth.
Relish your youthful vigor.
Follow the impulses of your heart.
If something looks good to you, pursue it.
But know also that not just anything goes;
You have to answer to God for every last bit of it."
-Ecclesiastes 11:7-9 (the message)

A fire set by the hands of a man seems like such a meaningless evil.

That is the way of evil in the world- meaningless and painful. And that is the way of evil in our own hearts; meaningless actions making pain in the lives of those around us.

Evil knows it is losing, though. It tried once to extinguish the light of Love, the Hope of all people.

Love, however, was resurrected from darkness and the God of all hope arose for all of us.

Now the smoke of our lives and the evil of our hearts are turned to perfume poured out at the foot of the cross.

God looks at our ashes and refuses to rebuild the same life we once had. He has a better one for us, and His love won't leave us in a shack of sin any longer.

"Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will."
-Romans 12:1-2

The world of sin has come to an end for anyone who has seen the fire of a holy God and bowed low in His presence, accepting and rejoicing in His lordship. A new Kingdom of sacrificial love reigns in the heart of a believer.

That Kingdom has no end, and the King is a loving Father, who sent His Son to save us.

He is our Solid Rock and He will will safely hold us. The smoke will rise to the Him who makes all things new.

May hope rise with it, as the ashes of sin turn into an offering of praise. 

No comments:

Post a Comment