Armor of Light

I have to be honest.  I’ve had a bit of writer’s block lately.  I’ve started blog posts, deleted them, started again, and then stepped away from my computer wondering if a creative idea, emotive words, or inspiration will ever enter my mind again.

How could I write about anything else?  What is more important, in our current affairs of the world, than the way we treat children?  I simply could not find the words to write.  My thoughts took me to a place of guilt for even thinking about writing about other issues that seem less important.

It seems hard to write after what has happened in my community.  The smallish,seemingly safe city that I grew up in entered into a darkness these past few weeks.  The shocking abduction of a young girl in front of her neighbors, the search for her, and the grim discovery of her body seemed to freeze our little spot on this spinning, blue planet, in grief.

It is not that my hometown is free of violence or despair.  Our growing city of just over 162,000 has seen its share of events that mimic the often depraved nature of our culture. Child abuse statistics are some of the highest in the state.  Drugs have invaded the city.  Domestic violence shelters seem to be full most of the time.  And, there are plenty of children and families who go to bed hungry each night.

However, this act of violence was quite different from the ones we’ve experienced. This little girl became all of our daughters, and our sons.  Because of her death, we all have hovered a little more, kept a watchful eye, and hugged an extra time or two.  We have all clung onto the stark reminder that our children are the most valuable gifts we have ever been given.

A little over a week ago, my city held a candlelight vigil for the girl and her family. Over 10,000 people showed up; 10,000 lights lit up our little corner of the world.

Candlelight Vigil
Photo Credit: Cory Stewart

Ten thousand personal moments of silence.  Ten thousands prayers said, and songs sang.  Thousands of tears shed.  Thousands of whispers of love, grief, and hope, found their way to Heaven that night.

Faith is the strength by which a shattered world shall emerge into the light.   -Helen Keller

When I first saw this image, my breath escaped me.  In this image I see sadness, loss, and anger.  What I also see is light, love, strength, and hope.  I see unity.  I see a community raising their candles and speaking out loud that children matter.

I see confirmation that kindness still exists, and that one of the most powerful God-given emotions is that of love.  

I see light suffocating darkness.

I see the armor of light.

The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. – Romans 13:12

At the Intersection of Faith and Fury {Light of the World}

I tucked our daughter into bed last night, paused for a moment, and then crawled in bed with her.  I curled my body around her, held on tight as her little body relaxed into sleep, enjoyed how good it felt to hold her close, and then thought about the sad events of the week.

In my hometown, a 10-year-old girl was abducted, and murdered by a teacher. There does not appear to be any connection between the child and the man who took her life.  I do not know this little girl or her family, but when something like this happens, especially close to home, it causes one to stop and consider the world in which we live, and to which our children are growing up.

As I held my daughter, tears started to well up in my eyes.  I found myself stuck at the intersection of faith and fury.  It is hard to comprehend where God is when horrible things happen.  I know He carries all of this junk of the world in His hands, and I believe He is the Redeemer of hope, but when life collides with confusion, it causes my soul to feel restless.  It pursues my anger, and catches hold of my desire for vengeance.

Sometimes, I look up to the Heavens and tell God that the view from down here is quite difficult to enjoy.  When violence and death happen, I sometimes wonder where He is.  In this spot where hope and heartbreak meet, I long for understanding.  Why, oh Lord, why did You not intervene?  Why did You allow this?  Why?  

And then, I remember that He is found at the cross-roads of love and loss.  He is near the intersection of revenge and justice.  He is our sail when the waters are rising, and land is in sight.  Our Father is the divider between misery and mercy.

As my daughter drifted her way to sleepy-town, I crept out of her room, and met my son in his bedroom.  He seemed fearful.  He asked for a flash light, and then, quietly said, “Mommy, will you lay down with me?”

I held him close while my mind continued to swirl.  I wondered,  “What kind of world am I raising my children in?  What kind of world corrupts a man’s heart to do such a heinous crime to a child?”  Once again, tears left my eyes and meandered their way to his robot-themed pillow case.  Such despair held within those tear drops; such innocence to which they soaked into.

Porch LightAfter I kissed my son goodnight, sat down at the computer and noticed that people I knew were posting pictures of their porch lights in memory of the little girl whose life came to an abrupt ending.  And then, one by one, folks from across the nation, and even other countries, showed their pictures of porch lights that were turned on.

The stark difference between the darkness that occurred with her death, and the lights that were shining caused my heart to stir a bit more, and perhaps, even soften to the hope that is found within the Light.

At the intersection of love and grief, hope and despair, anger and peace, vengeance and forgiveness, darkness and light, and faith and fury, the Savior I believe in is still found.  He is the vessel of love.  He is the carrier of hope. He is the portrait of peace.  His vengeance is great, and yet, He will always be the purest form of forgiveness.

Our mighty Redeemer is the faith to which I stand.

At the intersection of faith and fury, He is the light of this world.  

John 8:12 – When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”