We sat with friends, with some of the people God has given us, and listened to a new friend talk of his life growing up in a war-torn nation in the Middle East. He has been a refugee, and he has survived the impossible after seeing the horrific.
We were grieving for Paris, but he has been grieving the sound of explosions and guns firing all his life.
Ecclesiastes rang out over the room as he reminded us that evil has not found a new way to terrorize us. What happened in Paris has happened many times before. Death and pain know only one way to move in the world, and they always travel from one heart to another.
All things are wearisome,
Last night I dreamed of France. I dreamed of our friends there, of the language that spills from their lips like milk and honey, and of the beauty born in cities built by artists, full of love and light.
It is a real place, but it is also a kind of heaven in my heart. The streets are almost gold, and the air that fills your lungs in France is full of joy.
I did not dream of war-torn streets, of rooms full of little girls being sold for less than some people pay for a new sofa, or of men who carry death in their hands.
But those are real places, too. They are where none of us wants to be, and what none of us wants to believe can exist in the places we love. But in every city on the planet, even my own city, these places hide beneath the fabric of our perceived reality. Some of us are called by God to go into them, or to open our arms to those who have fled from them.
The Bible teaches us that love is stronger than death, and it drives away fear. There is a Love that reaches out to the lost soul, the refugee, the destitute, the deceived, and the fallen without fear the consequences. That Love believes there is is a good God whose mercy can triumph and save even our worst enemy.
If hidden evil is what we battle, prayer is our first defense. If forgiveness is the question, mercy is the answer. If safety is our need, faith is a refuge. If hope is our greatest need, compassion is the road home for our souls.
Yes, evil and death are very, very old indeed. They have haunted the world for many generations, and they will try to plague us as they did those who came before us. We sit in the darkness together, thrashing about and wounding one another so easily here. We forget that we are all waiting for answers to the same question. While we wait, we must choose to live by faith or live by fear.
Love is older than all things. It has no beginning and no end. When the end of death and evil comes, Love will stand and God's faithful children will live with Him there.
May all the world dream of Love tonight, and find the strength to live now as if Love has already triumphed.