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Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Terror and Awe

The Pacific ocean thunders with power.  I watch with awe.  Once, a few years ago, I was swimming with our family and even though we were on a beach that was supposed to be safe, I got caught in a frightening undertow.  I struggled and struggled and could not get any closer to shore.  Finally Scott saw me and swam out, and with his strength together we were able to move down the shore and find a place we could come in.  Since then I treat the ocean with respect for it's sheer immensity, energy, force.  Danger.  
This morning we awoke to news of another terrorist attack.  Evil, raw and destructive, lashing out to cause terror.  Bombs and blood and severed limbs and disrupted lives, in Brussels.  
An hour later I was running by the ocean, thinking, praying.  And as I watched the waves, the song which echoed was "waves of mercy, waves of grace, everywhere I look, I see His face . . ".  The tumult of the waves in Biblical poetry is sometimes a metaphor for the chaos of evil but is also used for the mystery of God (Psalm 42:7 and 88:7), God's presence a disruptive power breaking over our life.  
Like Lewis's famous Aslan line, good but not safe, the ocean provides a metaphor of mercy.  Deep, surging, uncontrolled, hiding beauty and sustenance and energy and magnificence, glorious, covering the earth.  It is only when that mercy breaks upon the hard rocky shore of our lives that the waves foam and seem to destroy.  Can we believe, on a day like today, that the crashing wave the splinters upon our rocks is actually a sign of love?  Can we stand in the spray and sense awe, without falling to abject terror?
Today we listen to the news videos looping over and over, smoke and a wailing child.  Evil afoot.  Over two millennia ago, this week also marked the attempt of evil men to slay the innocent.  Jesus faced the same mentality, the fear-inducing men who sought power by crushing the One that threatened their dominance.  He did not give in to terror, but walked with agonizing faith the way of the cross, committing His spirit into the hands of a Love that worked redemption in the very moments of death.
Can we throw ourselves upon the wavs of Mercy, the mystery of God's redeeming work in this world, even when it feels like we are being drowned with sorrow?  Can we look with faith, with awe, and reject terror?
The sting of death has been removed.  We don't control the surging power of God, but we know that the end of the story is goodness, is love, is redemption that no terrorist can overcome.


Marthaeloise said...

Thank you Jennifer. I am studying Psalm 46 for a retreat that is about 46:10. "Be Still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations...". May I cite this devotional when I speak on this subject? Thank you for this picture of God's redeeming power triumphant in these days.

Grace and peace,

Judith Shoolery said...

Amen, Jennifer. Thank you for all your beautiful insights, Judy in HMB