Handwrite a tweet to a friend. What’s it look like?
The One Year Devotions for Men on the Go by Stephen Arterburn. This daily devotional was written in 2004. There are thousands of similar resources. The bookstore at my church carries a few dozen options. However; this is the random choice I made when I was looking for a new devotional earlier this summer.
When Stephen and his co-author, Bill Farrel, sat down to put this book together, they had no idea what was going to happen in Newtown, Connecticut 8 years later. Heck, they’d probably never heard of Newtown, let alone Sandy Hook Elementary.
I woke up this morning much like everyone in this country, hoping and praying that yesterday’s events were just some twisted nightmare. There’s no way that was real. If there was ever a morning I needed to dive into God’s word for some comfort, some guidance, it was today… December 15, 2012.
And there it was… Today’s scripture reference was Psalm 37: 1-13 along with the chilling reminder of another event that stopped our nation in its tracks:
“To Read, Psalm 37:1-13
Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him, and he will help you. He will make your innocence as clear as the dawn, and the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun. Psalm 37:5-6
Power in Prayer
Over and over in Scripture, we are reminded of the incredible power of prayer. The following is an incredible testimony to that power:
Fifty Christian truckers got together to pray that somehow the sniper who was terrorizing the Washington DC area would be caught. Ron Lantz would be retiring as a driver in a few days and didn’t even live in the area, but he felt sure that God would answer their prayers. In fact, he told the others there that God was going to use him to catch the sniper.
A few days later he was listening to the radio as he was driving through the region and felt compelled to pull off the highway to a rest stop. As he pulled in, he was shocked to see a car similar to what was being described on the radio right there before his eyes.
Carefully trying to read the license plate, a chill went up his spine as he realized the numbers matched. He quickly called 911 and remained there for what he said were the longest fifteen minutes of his life until the police arrived. He even pulled his truck across the exit so there would be no escape for the elusive murderers.
The rest is now history. The snipers were taken into custody without incident.
Ron’s testimony shows the power of prayer. In prayer, we men have a powerful weapon with which we can wage spiritual battle. It’s a weapon we should never let down.”
Back to today, as I read this passage a chill went up my own spine. What are the chances I would be reading this 8 year old devotional today? I was not cheating and skipping around the book. Today’s entry was clearly marked for December 15 and the year was 2012.
Digging into the full passage from Psalms paints a clearer picture:
Do not fret because of those who are evil
or be envious of those who do wrong;
for like the grass they will soon wither,
like green plants they will soon die away.
Trust in the Lord and do good;
dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of the heart.
Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him and he will do this:
He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,
your vindication like the noonday sun.
Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when people succeed in their ways,
when they carry out their wicked schemes.
Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;
do no fret – it leads only to evil.
For those who are evil will be destroyed,
but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.
Myself included, hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people around our country and the world are asking why? How can this evil happen? How does a man walk into a school and commit this heinous, senseless crime? Where was God yesterday? Those were innocent children for crying out loud!
Today’s passage was written for me, by God. I believe there are no random chances in his work. This is exactly what I needed to read this morning.
Back to Newtown, the confusing answer is that God was there. Evil exists in this world and God showed up to provide glimmers of hope for those in that town. He showed up in the form of a teacher hiding her kids in cabinets for safety. He showed up in the form of volunteers doing everything within their power to rescue those still inside and to calm them once they were out. I don’t know the details of what happened inside that school, but I also have to trust he showed up to provide a glimmer of hope to those that were lost as well. That he provided the comfort they needed in their final moments.
“Do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes”. It does not say when people try to carry out their wicked schemes, it says when they carry them out. Evil forces and evil people are at work in our world.
Today’s devotional was the glimmer of hope I needed. It was the reminder that I need to commit to the Lord, to “wait patiently for him” and “refrain from anger” in times of such sadness and terror.
This does not mean I am no longer confused. I don’t think we’ll ever understand why such tragedy can happen to good people. To good families. To innocent children.
I just need to do my best not to fret, to become eaten away by yesterday’s events. I am not in control and need to trust that I am in “safe pasture”.
My prayer on this day is that God continues to provide glimmers of hope for everyone caught up in this madness. For those shaking their heads in absolute disbelief at what happened. For those doubting there is any hope in this world. For those who lost loved ones, who lost little ones.
The wicked plot against the righteous
and gnash their teeth at them;
but the Lord laughs at the wicked,
for he knows their day is coming.