Last week the lock down sirens went off during lunch.
Todd and I were having this lively and hilarious conversation with some of our dorm boys (see above) in the living room, and we eyed each other when that unmistakable keening began—we’ve had “unannounced” drills before, but that meant unannounced to the students. The staff have always been told.
“Is this for real?” our guys kept asking. “Are we for real on lock down?”
And we told them yes, shhh, calm down and start whispering and close-all-your-doors-let’s-go. We locked and bolted all five billion doors into this place (seriously, why so many doors?) and hunkered down on the chipping laminate to wait.
In the end it was a false alarm, but while we sat there in eerie, charged silence I prayed for courage and for wisdom and I looked at each of my boys and felt the mama bear in me rise up, hulking.
Not today, I was saying in my head to the Unidentified Potential Threat out there. You’ll have to kill me to get to these boys. Which is not much of a deterrent when you think about it, but still. Not in my lifetime.
To be honest, I have no way of knowing what I’d do if I were staring down a panga with my actual eyeballs. I’m mostly hoping that Christ in me would do the doing, but it’s hard to say.
At its crux, Christianity is the call to come and die—sometimes physically, but always viscerally, which is maybe more painful and loads more slippery. It’s the gruesome and agonizing death of my ambitions, my indulgences, my vanity, me. And for two seconds it’s good and done, and then I resurrect those guys and they have to be hunted down all over again.
In the same breath, Christianity is an invitation, a beckoning to come and live—to find new life in Christ; Christ alive in me.
What a strange, wonderful, upside-down God we serve.
A lot of hard things are happening in our corner of the world, and I know you guys are praying, and maybe some afternoon I’ll have the chance to talk with some of you over strong coffee and we can wrestle and pray this out, but not here. I wish we could, but this isn’t the place for that talk.
The thing I can share in this space is that with the nearness of horror and suffering, two things are clear: 1. Jesus is worth it. 2. Jesus is with us.
Jesus isn’t weak. He didn’t die because He was weak. Jesus had—and has—infinite power, a presence to be more than reckoned with. He’s the guy who said, ‘Destroy this temple and I will raise it again in three days,’ AND HE DID IT. He did it. He’s holy and beautiful and life-giving and untamable, and He doesn’t need us but still He wants us.
Can we ever get over the wonder of Jesus wanting us?
And He says to John, ‘Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the Living One. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades’ (Revelation 1:17b-18). (So where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?)
When I go running, I pray for the days ahead and what that means for our family. I have my plans and vague ideas, but God’s already inhabiting that time. I pray for my husband and each of my kids, that we will live well and die well. I pray that if any or all of us suffer—especially in extreme ways or for a length of time—that we would know with unassailable certainty the presence and goodness of God. That it would cause us to seize on to Him for dear life and not be hardened against Him, and that if there comes an hour when we just can’t hold on, that He would keep us. Please, Jesus, keep us.
And it’s the same thing I pray for you, that we would all know the joy of existing to make His name famous in all the earth.
He’s worth it, and He’s with us. Come what may.