It was a damp November day when autumn leaves, like parade confetti, covered a statue of a boy who died.
“Who is that?” my child asked, peering through the beads of rain. For a moment I lost consciousness, spellbound by the judder of the wiper blades. “Someone’s son,” I whispered to myself.
I remember the day he died. I was still young then, with a heart of flesh. I was grief-stricken for the family. Unable to process the depth of my sorrow, I hid it from almost everyone. All these years later, I understand it was as Paul wrote in his letter to Timothy and the church in Corinth, Greece.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ overflow to us, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.”
The murderous events that led to the boy’s death wove a pall upon me. They manslaughtered his tender spirit and his body and mind just gave out and died. Cruel men with selfish agendas and robber-baron ways, they had to have it all their way, and would stop at nothing to get what they wanted.
As I said, I was young then, and believed the tragedy, quite extraordinary. But, now I see that death often comes at the hands of ruthless people. The heavy cloak of this reality is with me every day. Call it what you want. The Heartland can be so heartless.
So, I trudge on, and do my best to raise a son to survive in a vengeful world full of trickery and thievery. I place my 50-year-old hand on his boy-chest, which encases his still-tender heart of flesh, and as it rises and falls with each new breath, a new prayer rises up to heaven.
God bless this boy. May he walk in the path of righteousness all the days of his life. May his cup runneth over with mercy and goodness. May he dwell in the house of the Lord forever!
Fire in the Heartland
All the glorious rains and dandelion leaves of autumn are gone now. They’ve been replaced by high winds that have turned everything a pale and brittle brown. Another November has disappeared into a dry December, and there’s fire danger all across the Heartland.
Meanwhile, I am filled with a burning desire that the Lord will raze the bitterness inside me and fill me to overflowing with gratitude for all my amazing miracles and blessings. That my God, an all-consuming fire, will consume me with His perfect love and perfect thanksgiving.
From the Apostle Paul’s masterpiece letter to Jewish Christians living in Jerusalem around the year 63 A.D.
Do you see what we’ve got? An unshakable kingdom! And do you see how thankful we must be? Not only thankful, but brimming with worship, deeply reverent before God. For God is not an indifferent bystander. He’s actively cleaning house, torching all that needs to burn, and he won’t quit until it’s all cleansed. God himself is Fire!”