“New Town”

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

I wasn’t sure how to acknowledge it, respond to it, or how to document my own reaction to the events in Newtown, Connecticut last week.  Regardless of where you live, what you believe, or who you voted for, everyone is mourning this tragedy in one way or another.  It is shocking, heartbreaking, and senseless.  But what else can I say about it that hasn’t already been said?

But Monday morning, my step-dad Rick shared a letter he had written in response to the tragic events.  If you are a personal friend, you likely know Rick and know how his reputation, faith, and character precede him.  Without straying too far off topic, Rick is the strongest male example of faith in my life. I am his step-daughter, but he has loved me as his own before he even married my mom, even when I was less than deserving {there is a special place in Heaven set aside for a man who marries a women with three high school freshman at home!}.  Divorce & re-marriage can do a number on kids, but God minimized that damage by choosing Rick to be my step-dad.  He has been a leader, director, and committee member of Young Life for nearly 40 years.  And this is the letter he sent to his high schoolers on Monday morning…

…………………………………..

“Sometimes things happen in the world that make me wonder how you are processing the meaning of unexplainable events. This past Friday, such an event occurred. I hope you will take time away from studying for exams or whatever is occupying your mind to let me speak a word to you.

I drove to Mississippi and back this weekend. On the radio I heard “Toyland, toyland, little girl and boy land…..” and “Joy to the World.” Then, with the push of a button I heard of the murder of 20 children and 7 adults by a deranged mad man. It just didn’t fit. Denial kept me wanting to dwell in “Carol-land,” but reality kept returning to shake my heart back into what the world calls “reality.”

You know the story by now. Stories like this generate a lot of questions and no rational answers. Questions like: Why? How? Where was God?

Since we are on Christmas break and we won’t be spending time together, let’s try to process this together. Please read on.

I heard someone once talk of making a big splash off the diving board, but no matter how big the splash, its life is very brief. However, the ripples from that splash go on and on….forever. She was speaking at a graduation ceremony, illustrating how fleeting one’s life is, so don’t focus so much on your splash that comes and goes quickly, but instead, on the ripples you leave behind.

Every Christmas we celebrate the beginning of God’s splash. On Easter we acknowledge the end of that splash. The ripples of His splash still go on today. However, Jesus warned us of another splash. “The thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy….” (John 10:10) That splash has ripples, too. He completes that sentence with this promise, “…but I have come that you might have life and life more abundantly.”

Satan’s ripples…..God’s ripples….Your life’s outcome is determined by which ripples most affect you.
Jesus also said in John 8:44 that the devil is a “murderer.”  Friday, a misguided man responded to satanic ripples, and the murderer “stole, killed, and destroyed.” Because somewhere in his life this man chose to respond to satanic ripples, we mourn the outcome of his choices today.

You and I can’t do anything about the events of last Friday. But….perhaps we can. Our world…..our country….our city….our schools….can be changed one obedient life at a time. That’s my part….the choices I make in my life. That’s your part….the choices you make in your life.

The Bible has several portions that begin with the phrase, “But as for me….” That’s all I have control over…my choices which determine whose ripples will drive my life.

My choice in life has been to follow God. When my splash is over, I pray that what I leave behind will reflect God’s ripples: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self control{Galatians 5:22-23}.  Maybe some potential mad man will be affected by those ripples and future “Fridays” will be prevented. That’s all I can do….choose well, so perhaps others will choose well. If each of us would do that, the world would change. If each of us responds to God’s ripples, satanic ripples will be diminished.

God gives us all freedom to choose. I can only control my choices…my response. When you respond to God’s ripples, your ripples become like His. In this world, some will always follow the wrong ripples, and the ripples their lives leave behind can be long-lasting and devastating. But we can fight back.

Imagine one day in Heaven if God were to show you how one of your life’s ripples affected someone’s choices, and a potential “Friday” was avoided because of your obedient choices. You can do something about Friday!

Remember this: Satan’s ripples will never prevail. The most obvious murder of an innocent person occurred on a Roman cross. Satan thought he had won, but God once again proved that He will always turn what is meant for evil into good.

You will hear of “New Town” for the rest of your life. A place you have never heard of will now be remembered for one event. But never forget, God has another “New Town”….a place where 20 children are alive and well today…a place free from terror, tears, and tragedy…..a place where you can live when you choose to respond to God’s splash.

This side of God’s “New Town” there will always be “Fridays,” but God miraculously changed the most tragic Friday into what we call “Good Friday” because His righteousness always wins in the end.

I am finished with my part. But….consider how you will end this story by finishing this all important beginning: “But as for me…..

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