where were the angels?

Many of us believe in angels.

More commonly, angels intervening in a situation and saving someone from danger or death.

Car accidents, a house fire, or a bullet that just missed the heart, to name a few.

In the recent church shooting which murdered 27 people on a Sunday morning, at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, the question may arise, where were the angels?

The truth is, angels are not always protecting or saving people from death, are they? Which in turn, we equate God is not always protecting or saving people from death.

Otherwise, everyone, certainly the devoted Christian, would be protected.

At least that’s how our mind might work.

I have always felt badly for those left behind after a tragedy because the consensus of angels getting the credit for a miracle (sent by God, of course). It could make those who lost their loved one think they weren’t good enough, they didn’t pray enough, they didn’t have enough faith, or that God does not care about them or love them.

Those can be very painful thoughts. Thoughts that some carry throughout their lifetime.

Thoughts that are not true.

When I lost my oldest son at 24 years old, I wondered, where were the angels? 

Even though there will always be a part of my heart that feels like it is not beating, I had to come to terms with my faith or I would have wanted to die, too. A mother wants to know her kids are safe and where they are. When your child dies, no matter how old he or she is, you cannot fix it.  I was suspended in a place unknown and unfamiliar.

I had to figure some things out. If I had stayed focused with the lack of angelic protection for my son, I would have been miserable all these years. Faith is believing what you cannot tangibly see and I had to either believe God’s promises were true or not in order to go on.

Today more than ever, people “believe God” for healing and miracles. Sermons are preached of doing greater works than Jesus and  faith that moves mountains. People even pray for God to dispatch angels.

How did suffering people throughout the centuries view this message? What did they do when this was not so prevalent as it is today? People who did not have all the bells and whistles, entitlements, access to one-click purchases, retirement funds, and more?

I think they embraced what the bible says, they “longed for a better place, that is, a heavenly one”.

On a good day, do we long for that better place?

How about on a bad day?

I believe in prayer. I think we should pray for healing and miracles and everything else that is good. I don’t believe we should sit back and settle.

If we have attributed angelic intervention to our circumstances (ultimately God’s intervention), we have to remember others do not have this same experience.

What they do have is something else I believe is valid and important to understand. It is rarely not shared with the testimonies of answered prayer, especially those with the acknowledgment of angelic activity. I mean, who wants to say what is not so wonderful to hear? Give me the answered prayer. The miracle.

The angels.

Early on after Christopher’s death, I felt God in a way I had never felt before. Yes, I did stop eating on purpose. Yes, I did end up having anxiety attacks and needed medication.

But, God was showing me so much that brought comfort in a way that I think only those who have experienced immense suffering and grief understand.

Angels don’t just rescue us from physical danger.

They are sent by God as ministering spirits, just as God sent one to strengthen Jesus as he was suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane before the crucifixion.

Had I not walked through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, I would not have known what it was like to not fear. I would not have experienced the comfort of God’s rod and staff. I would not have gotten stronger without God leading me to green pastures and still waters and eventually, seeing my soul restored.

People who have been to this valley have seen God in a way others have not. In the bible, Job suffered unimaginably in this valley, and at the end he said, I’ve heard of You [God] but now my eyes have seen you. 

It is true, today, even the most devoted Christian can be caught up with here and now. God made us to live with eternity always within our view. When we don’t, we are missing something vital to the Christian life. Something that keeps us steady, anchored, and accepting of things gone wrong.

Living with an eternal view keeps things in perspective.

And perspective is exactly what we need when we ask, where were the angels?

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for you.

There are people who do not go to church.

Some have been hurt.

Some see hypocrisy.

Some don’t believe in God.

So many reasons.

So many experiences.

And God cares about them all.

You may have heard “there is no perfect church”. This is true. But it is not an excuse.

It is often said in situations of conflict so those who have been hurt will realize things happen and the Bible encourages us to forgive, turn the other cheek, pursue peace, guard against division, and basically, let it go.

I agree and I have personally found peace in every situation, whether resolved or not.

Yet, I believe we should be very careful to examine our motives if we are in a conflict and we know we have hurt people with our words or actions. If the burden is quickly placed on the recipient of that hurt to just move on, it may be cause to take a step back.

There are scriptures telling us to be humble, bear one another’s burdens, and serve one another … all wrapped up in fervent love.

This love we should have is defined by the love God showed to the world through placing himself between us and the deadly consequences of sin separating us from God forever.

This is huge. And if we find ourselves getting off track, not always loving the way God wants us to, I think we are in big trouble.

And so, the Church, the people, should be representatives of this love which is immersed in gentleness and humility.

We do this because we love God and aren’t we the light to the world?

It’s not about our ability to move mountains, prophecy, and understand all mysteries.

It’s not about giving everything to the poor or dying a martyr.

All things that would get the world’s attention.

It is only about love. Are we humbling ourselves and allowing God to clean up our oh-so-easily-straying-heart?

Jesus humbled himself when he loved the world through his death.

If we are not humble, do we really love?

And are we growing and maturing into that perfect Church?

It’s interesting how much the world will expect from the Church. That’s because there is something unspoken, yet powerful that speaks to the world.

We must get it right.

glow

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shadows.

God has a way of hiding in the shadows.

We have a way of stumbling along in the dark until He steps out of them.

It happens in a moment. But when it does, when He steps out and again declares “Let there be light,” the clouds part and our souls’ dark alleys and cluttered corners glow with understanding, hope, and faith. In that moment, if only for that moment, we can see.

And we realize that He’s been there all along.

It’s just that we will see Him in a different light.

shadows

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remembering.

Tomorrow will be 12 years.

Christopher heard the call and was loyal and committed to the purpose and destiny he heard all of his life. Yet, the mixture of his zealous personality (do it right or don’t do it at all), and the certainty of purpose and assurance of destiny, fought with his tender heart.

With the tendency of feeling disqualified, it became too much.

I’ve been writing here for awhile now, with the purpose of being a small but steady light telling of God’s care during tragedy. I have not written solely about suicide, but the heartache of suffering in all its shapes and sizes.

I cannot speak to every heartache, but I do know the One who can.

I’m just a beggar telling another beggar where to find bread. And when you are hurting, you are begging for answers.

But we don’t always get answers, do we?

Some say, how could a God of love allow pain? I say isn’t it amazing how a God of love will comfort us in the pain.

It’s always been easy for me to see the big picture and not get lost in the details. That said, I have often found strength learning of the suffering which has come to mankind since the beginning of time.

There is a bigger picture. One that is difficult if not impossible for humanity to grasp. Try as we may, though, we form intellectual opinions based on what we see or understand, not realizing (or accepting) that just as the immensity of the universe cannot be understood in our finite minds, we will not understand why we suffer.

God’s ways are not ours. And in this I find comfort. Because it tells me someone is in charge of all this.

He has the answers.

The Bible speaks of the great cloud of witnesses” who surround us – those who spur us on to continue with perseverance  the path marked out for us. Men and women who faced intense adversity: ” … they were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated …”

We can continue with world history and current events which reveal so much pain and suffering, along with many, many who have endured and persevered, because they have grabbed hold of something bigger than themselves.

I do not want to minimize pain by sounding trivial in the conclusions I have come to.  But even in my worst first moments of receiving the news, suffocating and pulling me down into an abyss of hopelessness and despair, I found a brief moment to catch my breath and see the big picture of human suffering. Looking back, this was God pulling back the curtain to show me a truth that would help sustain me.

I was not alone. Countless others have faced this and more. God wasn’t picking on just me. He wasn’t punishing me. He wasn’t rejecting me.

Pain will isolate us, particularly from God. It, like death, is an enemy. An enemy that God will deal with one day when he wipes away every tear and there will be no more sorrow or death.

This is truth.

The truth sets us free from the limitations of how we see things.

And so we wait.

God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill? 

chris-peru

 

Christopher Moulton

November 30, 1981 – September 26, 2005

teenagers.

When I began raising teenagers, I thought because they had so much more than I did in terms of the road map of faith, they would certainly not struggle through those years as I did, without spiritual direction.

I was wrong.

Granted, they have an advantage – the word of God which clearly will not return … empty, but will accomplish what I [God] desire and achieve the purpose for which I [God] sent it.

The seeds are there. Some have sprouted. Some are dormant and will be ready at an another time.

If you have a Christian home, remember they our kids are human and will struggle like we do. Jesus said the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. Even though they are better prepared, they are human.

We our impatient in our American culture. We think input-output – results when we want to see them.

The fruit of our investment may not take place until long after we are gone. We may never see it. But we have faith to know God is faithful, always leading and guiding our kids just as He does us.

I came upon a book at a rest stop on the way back from vacation. It was one of those stops for gas, a drink, and a snack. My eyes glanced over and saw this book. Just what I needed this year homeschooling my teenager. Something that would speak to the common insecurities teenagers have, giving direction, comfort, and hope.

I wonder if we are so intent on reaching goals with scripture memorization and mission trips, earning badges and ministry accomplishments, without realizing what goes on inside of a person. In other words, we can be so much about doing and not think about being.

“I Don’t Feel Loved”

“Someone I Know is Sick”

“Teased Because of My Looks”

“My Siblings Drive Me Crazy”

We should be aware of our the tendency for a quick fix without taking time to understand and help our teenagers work through their struggles.

It is also a great book for kids of any age. Even adults.

teensteens 2~~~

 

 

 

scripture friday.

The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

-The Bible

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it is well.

It’s normal to want things to go well.

But like gravity, we are vulnerable to what we cannot control. We can defy it, but inevitably we must surrender to it. Even the very act of resisting it proves the point.

There is no doubt God wants to bless us. We see it throughout the scriptures. I can’t help but wonder sometimes if we become so focused on this that we forget the other parts of the Bible which tells us about God’s comfort, his strength, and the peace he wishes to give us.

If we didn’t have to deal with things going wrong, then why those scriptures?

Why are we surprised by pain?

Because we’re human.

I know I have spent the greater part of my life embracing “calling those things that are not as if they were”. I was committed, determined, and embodied “faith without works is dead” and “the effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man accomplishes much”.

I latched onto the definition of prayer warrior. It was a good fit for my personality and at the end of the day, I felt productive and accomplished. I am naturally responsible, dependable, and find great satisfaction in covering all the bases.

Until I discovered my faith would no longer be activity, but standing.

It wasn’t long before I realized no one really likes  you standing around. Not in this busy, goal-driven world we live in. If you aren’t moving and checking things off the list, are you really in a “good place”?

I think there is room for flexibility in the Christian faith. We cannot be rigid where God gives grace.

This does not mean we do whatever we want when it is clear what God says about it.

It means not everyone is going to look the same. Throughout the scriptures, we see Jesus dealing with people in very different ways.

Surely, God must have a greater range and capacity for us than we understand.

When Christopher died unexpectedly, you better believe my Lord and Savior was right by my side. That isn’t to say I didn’t go through horrendous emotions. But if I ever “saw God” like Job did after his suffering, it was then.

Do you know there is a place of suffering that is the greatest dark abyss known to mankind? A place of desperation of drowning and suffocation.  Only God exists in this place.

That is why those who have been there are sensitive to Christian platitudes, howbeit well-meaning. (And by the way, it is not a time to become offended with someone who has no patience for it. We would not speak casually to a burn victim. Please know some wounds cannot be seen).

If you haven’t been there, and I pray you never see it, believe what I am telling you.

When God says He is with us, He is.

And because He is, you can trust Him to do all the scriptures tell us .. now .. and into eternity.

Things may not go well, but it will be well with your soul.

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