Ever find yourself asking that question?
I'm sure that question has been asked by everyone, from people who fail a test to those who suffered through the Holocaust. But is it ever as tragic or raw when it doesn't happen to you? When you heard about 9-11 you most likely were shocked, fearful, angered and saddened, but was it personal? Maybe it was. Maybe it caused you to change your life.
I'd like to share my story.
4 years ago, my sisters and I breathed with my dad for the last time here on earth. His death was caused by events that led to a criminal investigation as well as a civil law suit. The tragic events surrounding his death began to shape, forever, the rest of our lives.
It started a trickle down effect. Relationships were lost, marriages were bruised, trust was no where to be found and my God was little more than a being sitting on a throne too busy to help with our situation.
Phill and I moved from our home one year after my dad's passing to start a new, fresh life. A life where no one knew what happened, where no one would judge us, where we could just get away. And while those are never good reasons to leave, it was the most pivotal decision we ever made.
We moved during the summer which afforded a lot of free time, since the kids were out of school and our number of friends at that time could be counted on one hand. I'd never been a reader, but it seemed like an opportunity to help pass the time, and it was something dad loved, so I decided to give it a try. Turns out, I like to read.
As time passed, we began to get settled with an amazing church and some friends, but friends who didn't really know me. As I ventured out, I found others who liked to read as well and book suggestions were being thrown back and forth. One of the first books I read was by Francine Rivers called A Voice in the Wind. [Three out of the four comments on Amazon say "life-changing" in their reviews.] It touched a place in my heart that really opened up the void where I had kicked God out. I was never angry at God, I just didn't have an intimate relationship b/c I didn't know, KNOW that he truly cared.
The book challenged me. My faith, my beliefs, my God. What were they? What did I stand for? At the time, my self. And so I decided to go deeper.
Each book I picked up after that, God intricately wove together to piece the frameworks of my beliefs. Love was changed, faith was growing and Jesus was showing me what Grace looked like, through these books and according to His word.
He introduced me to fresh ideas, not according to this world or our culture's or how I felt, but to His standards. Forgiveness had new meaning. Life had a purpose. Hope has never been lost. And Love? Well, isn't that what it's all about? Isn't that who Jesus is? Didn't He become a servant, showing us all how to treat others, how to trust? How to live? Even when pain is griping your every fiber and demanding you not cut its hold isn't He holding our hand and asking for us to have Faith that He meant this: "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives." Gen 50:20
He saved my life, obviously from Hell, but there is so much more than that that He died for. He gave my life purpose. He said He came to set the captives free. Freedom. In all areas of our life. He said, "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me." John 10:27 And that's what He wants, us to follow Him. Is it easy? It's probably the hardest thing you can do, b/c you cannot do it without or apart from Him. It requires trust, hope, determination and a willingness to let go of "me" and what I want.
So what's the purpose?
I wouldn't be where I am, able to forgive, to love and to share without Him. And without this situation in my life, I wouldn't be glorifying God, I would still be glorifying me. Was this the purpose for my dad's death? Was it for me? I know it was. But was it only for me? Never, b/c it isn't about me. It's all about Him. It's about finding Him in the fabric of your lives. It's seeing His hand and trusting in His sovereignty. It is knowing that He knows. Your hurts, your pains, your failures, your loss and your way. "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28
So in the words of Ghandi, "Be the change you want to see in the world." How? Start with the renewal of your mind. "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will." Romans 12:2
It doesn't take an army to change. It takes one person. Use His thoughts, His heart, His love in your decisions. Teach these things to your family, friends and children and you'll see it. You'll see it in how you react, and those that you love react and you'll know that the world is better b/c of it.
Yesterday was 4 years. To the day. And yesterday we came to a settlement and will not be going to court. A giant of a burden has been lifted. Peace has begun to settle in and take its rightful place. And yesterday I decided to do a random act of kindness, in honor of my dad and in the name of Jesus.
The kids and I went to Chick-fil-A and paid for the people behind us. Before we got there I prayed that God would let someone be behind us that would benefit from hearing that Jesus loved them. It felt good. Funny thing was, their order was only a gallon of lemonade .. $9.80. After telling Phill about it and getting ready to leave for the day, Phill comes running inside the house b/c he found a ten-dollar bill in the yard. Wait, what? Really God? THAT quick of a return? I get it. I do. You love us and we're doing what you asked.
Later that night, my friend texted me and asked me to check my email. Here is the email:
Hello to all!
First off, I was the reci]pient of a very nice email today that I can’t take credit for, but thought that I would share with all of you. It is a terrific act of generosity and I think the person responsible should know that it was greatly appreciated.
As follows via the Feedback button on NWArestaurants.com:
I just want to THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart for providing for our church Youth group meeting this afternoon. Though you did not know it. Allow me to explain. I was sitting in the car at the Chick-Fill-A in Rogers, Arkansas, waiting to pay and pick up the gallon of fresh-squeezed lemonade for our Youth group later this evening. As I reached the window, I was greeted by a very friendly lady who told me. "Message from the car in front of you.....Jesus loves you. Your lemonade has been paid for you." I was in awe.....I saw God's hand working through a complete stranger. Between my children and can not decide wheather the SUV was white, black or gray....but we remember the website on the rear window clearly... Our youth group just began to meet every Thursdays at 6PM at our church, the Rogers SDA Church. On behalf of our youth....THANK YOU for tonight's drink. May God bless richly bless you.
Youth Director Assistant.
So I want to thank whoever was responsible for this random act of kindness. How much better would the world be if we had more of these stories to tell? I will also contact Maria on behalf of NWArestaurants and see if we can add to that gesture. If anyone else has a story to share we would love to hear it as well as other opportunities that our website can participate in making this a better community.I share that b/c there were so many lives who were impacted by it. Maybe not life-changing, but certainly challenging to do more. Do you see how it affected the business? He wants more people to share stories and is looking for opportunities to make this a better community. I think that's where it starts.
The purpose? Him.
I love you, Dad
I love you, God