Peace and plenty are not the rule or the right

“. . . there in that pleasant corner of the world they plied their well-ordered business of living,
and they heeded less and less the world outside where dark things moved,
until they came to think that peace and plenty were the rule in Middle-earth
and the right of all sensible folk.
They forgot or ignored what little they had ever known of the Guardians,
and of the labourers of those that made possible the long peace of the Shire.
They were, in fact,
sheltered,
but they had ceased to remember it.”

The Fellowship of the Ring
J.R.R. Tolkien

*****

The times they are a-changin’.

So maybe that was the mantra forty years ago.

But it sure feels that way again today.

From the two police officers were shot and killed in the line of duty in Indiana yesterday, to the deserts overseas where our young men and women bled and died to keep peace but which are falling once again to terrorists, to our own backyards where choosing a craft store for my sons’ 4H project feels more like a political statement than…well…a trip to the craft store…

The times they are a-changin’.

And sometimes I don’t feel like I see any good.

That is, until I’m still.

And I listen.

And peace comes in a

whisper

in the eyes of my

smiling son

in the

braiding

of my 102-year-old patient’s long gray hair

in the thunder rolling across corn fields

green and thriving

in this long overdue damp, cool summer

in the

sun dappled

by the locust tree leaves pouring through my living room window in the evening

in the

whoops and hollers

of teenagers leaving by the bus full for Young Life Camp

Yes, the times they are a-changing.

Which means we just need to

look

for the good

fight

all the harder for the faith

and

drop to our knees

faster and than ever.

And the peace we find there–He promises it’s there–hunched and bent before the Lord will be all the sweeter.

 *****

But you, Timothy, man of God: Run for your life from all this. Pursue a righteous life—a life of wonder, faith, love, steadiness, courtesy. Run hard and fast in the faith. Seize the eternal life, the life you were called to, the life you so fervently embraced…

I Timothy 6:12 (TMV)

 *****

run

On the great rescue and an unlikely hero.

Rescued.

That’s the word that keeps going round and round in my mind when I think of my friend Peter.

I fell in love with the boy in 2009 when I heard about him through World Next Door (please click here to read all about him there).

I met him in January, 2013.

And we said good-bye to him this week.

Peter was like many boys, happy, funny, tender-hearted, kind. He loved cars and he liked to sing.

Peter was different, too.

Abandoned by his mother, he was alone and filthy and beaten in an orphanage. He was losing hope and growing weaker by the day from the muscular dystrophy which would eventually claim his precious life.

But God had other plans for Peter.

Peter was rescued.

He was adopted by Yuri and Ira Levchenko. He shared a room with a new big brother, Taras. He was surrounded by a brood of other brothers and sisters who adored and cared for him. He was deeply treasured and loved until he passed away July 1.

Peter was rescued.

Again.

Now he can breathe.

He can run.

He can climb trees and swim and sing without getting breathless.

Peter is free.

I’m not sure Peter quite knew how he changed hearts around the world, that he was, in fact, a hero to many. When I met him in January, 2013, he was simply happy to sing Christmas songs and show us the fish in his new fish tank and the matchbox cars he lined up on his bedside table and tell us how much he loved Jesus.

But that’s the best sort of hero, isn’t it?

The one who is least likely to be one.

The one who has no clue he is one.

But the one who is a hero, just the same.

A hero because he was rescued.

And because of Peter’s miracle of a rescue and his response of grace, we who knew him are all a little more confident that we are rescued, too.

In the midst of our own filth, our own weakness, our own flaws and sins and loneliness and pain and breathless searching for peace and a home,

we are each of us–praise God–rescued, still.

*****

He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me.

Psalm 18:19

*****

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peter

 

 

second chances

second chances

 

*****

“A Southern story of second chances.”

That’s one of the tag lines for How Sweet the Sound.

It’s fitting, I think. So many of the characters have been through trials and are just plain tired of trying to find a God who seems so elusive in the midst of their pain and shame.

But strange things happen when we reach the end of our selves.

Second chances come around.

More because we choose to take them than because they’re handed to us.

How might God be asking you to take a chance today?