Hope Dodges a Bullet

We know life can be fragile, but most of us just continue living through one day after the other. We believe we have plenty of time left … until something happens to change our perspective.target - bullet

A few weeks ago, as I was getting ready to hop into bed – I heard a gunshot. The cat jumped straight up, turned horizontal in midair and ran into the next room.

I stood there a moment, thinking … no glass shattered so nothing came through the window. Was it a drive-by shooting? What should I do?

Then the doorbell rang. I hurried downstairs and peeked outside before I opened the door to my neighbors – the folks who live on the other side of my duplex wall.

He was standing on my steps with a towel wrapped around his bleeding hand. She seemed worried as she asked over and over, “Are you all right? Are you all right?”

“Yes. What happened?”

“He was reaching into his strong box to check his weapon and it went off. Are you all right?”

“I’m fine,” I said, “but you have young children. Are they okay? And what about your hand?”

“The bullet went through my hand,” he said. “We’re on our way to the ER, but then we saw the bullet went through our adjoining wall. That’s why we wanted to make sure you were okay.”

“Well,” I said, “my son and I just prayed for protection tonight. I guess God was with us.”

They drove to the hospital while I waited for the police. I knew whenever a weapon is discharged, officers will come to check it out. Within the hour, the doorbell rang again and this time, as I peeked through the window, I saw the shiny badge.

Throughout our investigation that night, the officer and I figured out what had happened.

The bullet came through the wall at an angle, then through my headboard, grazing my pillows. It continued through the opposite wall and outside the house. So I had two bullet holes in my interior walls, one in the outside of the house, one through my headboard, two adjacent holes through my pillow cases and none through me.

However, if I had been in the bed or even bending over to fluff my pillows, the bullet would have struck me.

The officer shook his head and said, “Ma’am, the good Lord was with you tonight.”

“Yes, as he is always. I guess it wasn’t my time.”

Throughout the next days, my neighbors apologized frequently. They fixed all the damage and even brought me some beautiful flowers.

The experience gave me the opportunity to speak of my faith to my neighbors and to remind my son once again that I love him.

Because life is short. Because none of us knows how much time we have. Because we live in a scary world.

The experience also reminded me to make every day count, to love and laugh and live abundantly.

Then to hang on to the hope that assures me … someday the end will come and I will graduate to heaven.

Hope hangs on to the smallest threads of life and still believes every day has a purpose. Even if we can’t find our purpose through a particular season of life, God knows how everything fits together.

He knows how to make even a stray bullet count for something good.

©2016 RJ Thesman – Author of the Reverend G books http://amzn.to/1rXlCyh

 

 

 

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Hope Answers Why

why imageWhen life unravels and we struggle through it, our first response is often, “Why? Why God, did this have to happen?”

“Why did my precious tender-hearted Dad have to disappear into the shadows of dementia?”

“Why does my mother have to continue through this Alzheimer’s journey when she spent half her life taking care of Dad and praying against this disease? I don’t understand, God. Why?”

King David, asked “Why?” And even the son of God, Jesus himself, pleaded for an answer, “Why God have you forsaken me? Why?”

Usually, heaven is silent and we don’t receive an answer to this question. I suppose God wants us to exercise faith and learn how to dig deep within, to trust him when the “Why” question isn’t answered.

And maybe our finite minds can’t understand even if God does tell us what’s going on.

But in one version of the story of Job sits a verse that might help us understand. I’ve only found it in the New American Standard version, but I’ve hung on to it during those times when life unravels.

It is amazing to me that the answer appears in the book of Job – wrapped within the story of this patriarch who suffered so long and so intensely – this good man who lost everything, including his health. Not even his best friends could help him understand.

Yet this verse shouts the answer to our “Why” questions: “Whether for correction or for His world or for lovingkindness, he causes it to happen” (Job 37:13 NASB).

Correction: Sometimes things happen to us so that we will learn important lessons – spiritual or practical lessons.

Our blood pressure spikes. Perhaps the lesson is to balance out life, learn to say, “No” and get the rest our bodies need.

When life unravels, instead of asking “Why?” maybe we should look upward and ask, “God, what are you trying to teach me here?”

His world: Sometimes the things that happen to us are a direct result of the world we live in.

A drive-by shooting takes away a precious child because some irresponsible person fired his gun out the window or reacted to some inner anger and didn’t care about anyone else. We live in a scary world.

Last week, the news was filled with the tragedy of a train derailment. One of the rules of physics is that if you take a curve at 100 miles per hour in a metal car attached to metal rails, some of those train cars may detach and go flying. As a result, people will be hurt and some of them killed because that’s how physics works. It’s incredibly tragic, but our world is filled with tragedies.

Lovingkindness: This is the really hard one. How can it be loving or kind when terrible things happen? Why does a good God allow terrible things to occur?

Maybe it’s because he looks at the situation through timeless eyes and a heart that is bigger than this world.

A teenager is arrested for drunk driving and sentenced to several years of imprisonment and/or probation. His parents are devastated. He misses his graduation. He loses his college scholarship. But isn’t that kinder than if he continues to drink, becomes an alcoholic and ends up killing someone with his car?

Death is not always the worst scenario. A surprise heart attack is tragic, but easier to deal with than a lifetime of slow death with Alzheimer’s.

Is it better to perish in a tornado or to slowly starve to death in a prison camp? Which would you choose? Which death is kinder?

Ultimately, even with this verse in Job, we don’t have control over the unravelings of life. We never know what the next twenty-four hours will hold.

That’s why it’s so important to enjoy each day, to love God and each other with full hearts. That’s why hope is so vital.

Because even when we can’t figure it out, when the “Why’s” of life don’t make sense and heaven is silent – hope keeps us moving toward the next sunrise.

Hope is that eternal optimism that at some point, all our unravelings will make sense and pain will disappear.

And as one pundit has written, “When we get to heaven, we’ll take one look at the replay of our lives and understand what God was doing. Then we’ll understand and we’ll say, ‘Of course.’”

What do you think about Job 37:13?

©2015 RJ Thesman – Author of the Reverend G books http://amzn.to/1rXlCyh