Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Always With You




I was riding my bike on Hilton Head beach on a clear sunny day when the skies became silent. It was strange, ominous...I am sure it is not often that planes fly over Hilton Head but there was a palpable silence in the air and disquiet in the people I saw as I biked back to our condo.That is how I knew something awful had happened 11 years ago on this day. Like most of America, when I got home, my family and I watched the television all day long. I can still remember the incredulous horror at the first sight of those airplanes crashing into the Towers, the flames, the anguish. And all of us felt vulnerable in a way I had not known before.

I know many people asked that day, "Where was God?" That isn't what I asked. Very early on in my three decades of faith I realized the God does not always erase the consequence of sin. And sin touches everyone. I know great heroes emerged that day, but many people mourned the loss not only of their sense of safety but of beloved sons, daughters, fathers, and mothers. The question I asked of God was, "What do we do now?"

And I am proud of my country. We went after the perpetrators as best we could, we shored up our safety measures, we applauded the heroic firemen, police, and citizens who rose to the horrific demands of the occasion, and we mourned the friends, family, and countrymen who had died. And we prayed. I prayed for all those who had been murdered, who suffered, who lost, and who were now shaken. And I remember that day praying as well for all the people who would do such a thing to us...or to anyone. Their souls mattered just as much to God as mine. And their souls, I believe, were lost.

The leaves are just starting to change color here, some are starting to drift away from what seemed such a strong hold on the sturdy branches. I know that much as the trees need and love the leaves, they will allow them to fall away, to puddle in great heaps of orange, and scarlet, and gold on the ground. And they will be covered one day by snow (if we are lucky, here in the south where the snow is an unexpected delight), melt into the dirt and mix with the nutrients of the air, and then slowly nourish the tree and be in the molecular mix of the new leaves that will surely return in the spring. And over all of this, God is there, in the very air that shakes the leaves loose and beckons them unfurl when Spring comes.

Psalm 73:21-23,27-28 (NIV)
When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, [22] I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you. [23] Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. [27] Those who are far from you will perish; you destroy all who are unfaithful to you. [28] But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds.


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