Me and my little lightbulbs in the bluebonnets!

Me and my little lightbulbs in the bluebonnets!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Why I Pray for ISIS

"I just don't understand, Mom," my 11-year-old asked me yesterday morning. "Why would people hurt other people just because they don't believe the same way?"
      Our conversation was one held in thousands of other households across the globe, but for us, it was unique. All these years I've shielded my children from the world's chaos and destruction. I've ceased watching the news in their presence, unsubscribed to newspapers and guard their online activity like a hawk watching over her babies. But at a certain point the world intrudes and we must face these discussions head-on and with spiritual awareness.
     I used the opportunity to explain that hardened, dark hearts don't feel remorse for such actions. That, for reasons we can never comprehend, they feel this is their spiritual duty.
    "But," I stressed, "the scripture is very clear about what to do with our enemies. We must pray for them."
     The look on his face was pure shock, rimmed with slight confusion. How can we, he asked, pray for such people?
     In fact, these are the very people who need our prayers. The darkest of hearts can only be awakened by the purest of light: that of Jesus Christ. He is the only one who can turn a life around and scatter evil from the shadows. Revolutions must take place from within, and, in this case, it must begin with a heart change.
     We can reflect on Saul, the Christian killer, who once reveled in his own blood lust. Once saved by the grace of Christ, he repented. I believe, too, that this can happen within the ranks of ISIS.
     I know it's a simplistic solution. It does sound a little kumbayah, and maybe it is. Still, I am compelled to utter this prayer nearly nightly.
     Do I think there is no place for military action in this situation? I leave that to the professionals to decide. Am I saying this that magically through prayer these hardened criminals will turn away from their ingrained idealism? Whose to say. Stranger things have happened. I don't claim to know the future.
    But what I do know is that I am not on the front lines with an AK-47. My only bullets are those of prayer, my only weapon the hope that comes from the Lord.
    I don't know what tomorrow holds for us or my children. The Bible, written during a time of similar unrest, tells us not to worry about tomorrow. Yet, there are times my prayers are overrun with worry.  In those moments I stop and I pray for the hearts of men I will never understand and I hope never to meet. I pray that they will be forgiven and that they will turn from the evil that has consumed their spirits. Joy and love and understand can't thrive in such darkness, yet the Lord can overcome even these obstacles.
    So, I pray. And I pray some more. I hope you'll join me because, while it's painful and difficult to pray for our enemies, it may be the most powerful weapon we have against those who would try to wrench such hope from our hearts.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Walking Along the Road

You shall therefore impress these words of mine on your heart and on your soul; and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. “You shall teach them to your sons, talking of them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road and when you lie down and when you rise up.

I have spent six years in a blissful Norman Rockwell-esque existence with my two boys. But yesterday, the bubble popped around my fragile world. That's right. My oldest son is now an official middle-schooler. He graduated, despite the fact that I was all but shackling his ankles to his desk in an effort to keep him in his safe little cocoon.

You see, I live in a sweet front-porch community where the elementary school sits smack dab in the middle of my neighborhood. Every temperate morning, I walk my kids to school and then back again at the end of the day. We literally stop and smell the roses growing alongside my neighbor's picket fence and the kids clamber up trees on our route home. It's heaven. And I don't want it to end.

But, it has, at least for one of my boys. I realize that I will never again walk my oldest son to or from school for the rest of his life. And this, my friends, is enough to send me straight into my pajamas with a case of Hagen Dazs.

Although his little brother will remain at our lovely little school with its lovely little desks, my oldest will now venture into the world of pre-teendom. He'll get acne and start liking girls. Pretty soon, I won't be welcomed with huge wide-open arms at school. Instead, I'll be shunned, like the drunk uncle at Thanksgiving.  (You know he needs to be there, but that doesn't mean you like it).

So, now that the inevitable has taken place, I suppose I must make peace with it. He will get taller than me. His voice will change.  He'll continue to grow up.  And, I know that's the point. But it doesn't quell the ache in my chest or alleviate this feeling that time is just sand slipping through my fingers.

But, still, I am thankful. I'm thankful for the "walking along the road" that we have had the privilege of enjoying. Those walks have sometimes been tearful, sometimes celebratory. Sometimes, quiet and other times teaming with excitement. As I've walked with my two boys at my side, I've seen seasons change, in both the world around us and in their own lives.

For six years, we've enjoyed streams of conversations, sometimes serious, other times silly. I look back on these times with praise and joy, mixed with a dull ache. They are days I will never be able to reclaim, and I know that.

Yet, as we walk along the road with our children, no matter how short the journey, we should always remember that every minute is precious. Every second is a grain of sand that will quickly escape our grasp. Only God can hold them.

My challenge to each parent out there is to take advantage of the moments you have to "walk along the road" with your child.  Every conversation, no matter the content, is important. Make it count, make it a memory. And then, remember to thank God for them. Because, much like the fading light of a perfect day, they will too quickly be gone.