I cried reading the news.
I read about the Charleston Shooting at the AME church, killing nine people in a prayer meeting — one of which is a pastor — and a tenth person injured. Innocent people who felt safe to carve out time and space to be with others, just a small gathering. No big fan fare. Only a desire to be together and pray. Innocent, like little children in their spiritual home, wounded and murdered.
I cried and sat paralyzed, reading about ISIS reportedly crucifying and burying children alive in Iraq. And earlier this week, as we’re going to celebrate July 4th, I read 74 children were executed by ISIS because they refused to fast for Ramadan.
Many of you have read about my journey through my own emotional childhood trauma, which are still fresh in my heart and in my book Finding Spiritual Whitespace: Awakening Your Soul to Rest (and I hope those tender places in me will always be fresh, because they are part of my story).
Yet, I cannot even begin to imagine the terror and unspeakable evil these children have had to experience.
I cannot help but cry out to God, “Why?!”
And “How — can you stand by and watch all these things happen, God — when I can’t even hardly read about it? Why would you allow this? Why don’t you stop and rescue these little ones — when I know you can?”
And I knew, hidden in those painful questions and anger, were really my own echoes as a little child — about my own story — questions of how and why.
As I sat there, talking to God about all this, wrestling with the unanswerable questions of how can a good God allow such unspeakable suffering, two of God’s scriptures came to mind:
“Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” Hebrews 4:13
How Jesus said, “But whosoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to fall, it would be better for him that a millstone were hung about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.” Matthew 18:6
I knew God was telling me He does see it all. And He is not going to allow this to go unpunished. There is justice and God will make things right one day.
But, in this moment, I want things to change today.
I Wish I Was a Soldier
I wish I was the president of the United States. I wish I could order that we go fight ISIS and save those children. Now.
I wish I was a soldier and I would go there and die trying to save them. Today.
But I’m neither the President or a soldier with boots on the ground.
In deep reflection, I thought about the Stars and Stripes — the flag of the United States.
I noticed the stars in the flag — and how they shine against the dark night.
And so, I asked myself, “How can I be God’s light in this dark world?”
Then I saw the red and white stripes on the flag.
And so, I asked myself, “How can I share God’s love in this world of suffering?”
How Jesus suffered unspeakable torture, violence and evil before and on the cross – emotional, physical – as he was crucified (have you seen The Passion of the Christ?).
“But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5
And I felt very deeply, the work of healing
— giving comfort, sharing love, sponsoring a little boy or girl with Compassion, coming alongside someone
— creating art, writing, playing music, bringing beauty
— being a friend who listens, laughs, offers safety, a cup of tea, invites someone over for dinner/bbq
— praying for our loved ones, our troops, and those who are hurting, bearing tears with others, visiting a friend, cooking a meal
— the work of encouragement and healing is part of celebrating freedom this July 4th in America.
What Can I Do?
I was somehow born here in America, in the safety of a land that is free and safe. Freedom that other soldiers have had to pay with their lives for. Freedom I neither asked for or earned.
Freedom is a gift. It is grace. That God has paid for and other soldiers who have given their lives for, have been injured, living and having to heal from unspeakable memories and recovering from PTSD.
And I have to ask, “I had to ask myself, What will you do, Bonnie?” What can I do in the face of such evil?
And a third verse came to mind —
“Walk as children of light. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” Eph 5:8, Matt5:14
So, I came up with two challenges for you, friends — so that you and I can both celebrate July 4th weekend as a community.
The Stars & Stripes July 4th Challenge: Soldiers of Light and Love
The first challenge is a video challenge I recorded for KLove listeners. Click below to watch this short 1 minute video to hear the challenge.
We may not be soldiers in Iraq, Syria or Afghanistan — but we are soldiers in the battlefield of life.
Let us be soldiers of Light and Love for Jesus.
Pray for our Country and Be God’s Light and love this July 4th weekend.
Will you take the challenge?
Share how you will pray and be God’s light and share his love this July 4th weekend. Click to comment.
As for the second challenge? I’ll be sharing the idea with you in the coming weeks.I just got inspired, so I’m gonna prepare for the 2nd challenge!! I can’t wait to share it with you!
Will you be going on vacation? Take me along with you. Order a copy of my book Finding Spiritual Whitespace: Awakening Your Soul to Rest — and let’s rewrite a new story of freedom in our lives: freedom in our hearts. To live as God intended: to shine refreshed like stars in the sky. Today.
So moving, Bonnie. A person can feel so helpless sometimes when atrocities are happening. I love your July 4th challenge! God bless America!
[…] Why I Wish I Was a Solider: A Stars and Stripes July 4th Challenge: Be God’s Light […]
I have quit asking “why” because the answers never really come. And in the end they don’t matter. Nor does how or what or who. I am trying all my questions into a single answer — Him
I love how you encouraged us to see the flag as a call to worship. I will never look at it the same way, Bonnie!