This Is Hell But We Are Heaven–A Response to the Paris Bombings

“I never watch the news. Tonight I can’t pull myself away.”

I never watch the news.
Tonight I can’t pull myself away.

I have cried
and shook my head
and carried questions
and nursed a deep sadness,
but I think the main reason I have lingered so long, unable to move on, is because
I was waiting.

I was waiting for my assignment.
I keep listening to the reporters and watching the footage and wondering –
What do I do? How do I respond?  How do I help?
How can I possibly make a difference in the midst of such huge devastation on the other side of the ocean?

This isn’t the kind of problem for which I can create a meal train, or offer a hug, or take flowers.

Or is it?

It looks like the problem is there, but I know it’s here.
It’s everywhere.

Regardless of the perpetrator or his purpose, one thing is always true about evil.  It is manifested when there is an absence of good.  I believe that the source of all that is truly good in this world is God.  In places – in people – where God abides, evil can not survive.

And so the answer to What can I do? is this –
 fill every space of this world that I can with Him.

I watch terrorists who are so bold and passionate about what they believe that they act in incredibly radical ways.  And it is affecting people.  In big, huge, monumental ways it is affecting people.  It can not be ignored.  Hmmmm…

What if we all began living with that kind of boldness for good?  What if we were radical about it?  What if our beliefs fueled actions that actually affected people in meaningful ways – ways that could not be ignored.

There is an urgency growing inside of me.  An urgency to be bold and radical about what I believe in.  I hope it’s growing in you too.

I believe in
love
joy
peace
patience
kindness
goodness
faithfulness
gentleness
self-control

Ask my kids and they will sing about it.  All of those things together are what we know as the Fruit of the Spirit.  That means they are produced not by me, but by the Spirit.  And the Spirit is God.  But not the kind of God who stands at a distance watching us and ordering us around.  Not even the kind of God who is close to us.

The Spirit is God IN us.

Just think about the magnitude of that for a moment.
I believe that the spirit of God actually lives in me and because of that I have the power to possess and wield every one of those characteristics I just listed and more…and so do you.  I carry weapons too.

I’ve heard that ISIS recruits individuals who feel marginalized or inadequate.  I’ve heard that they prey on people who are seeking a place to belong.  I want those people to know that there is another place.  There is a place where they not only belong, but a place they were created for.  A place where they are loved, accepted, and chosen.  A place where they will find a purpose for which to live radically, not for evil, but for good.  That place is in the arms of a good, loving, grace-giving God.

I hold the keys.  

Will I use them to unlock the kingdom of heaven for them or will I only do enough to get myself inside?  I don’t want to be the kind of person who keeps my love of God private and protected.  I want to be the kind of person who isn’t afraid to walk into dark places and grab people’s hands and say – come with me, I have a door I want to open for you.  It will be up to you if you want to walk inside but I want you to know that you are invited.  You are wanted. You have a place.

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The lights may be out on the Eiffel Tower tonight,
but the light never dims in those of us who carry the Spirit of God within.

I refuse to be consumed by the darkness of this world.  And the only way to ensure that does not happen is to stoke the flames of the Holy Spirit that I carry inside of me.
The light doesn’t come from me but it does come through me.  
I can choose to only let it out when I feel safe or prepared or qualified or I can just break myself wide open, unafraid, and let it pour out onto every person and into every place that surrounds me.

Everyone is wondering what our government should do in response to this attack.  Right now I’m wondering what we can do – you and I.  We are not helpless, you know.  On the contrary, we have a very important role to play.

I heard a French survivor who was interviewed after escaping the concert hall use these words to describe what he had just experienced –
This is a nightmare.  
This is hell.

Yes, it is,
but I carry heaven inside of me.
Many of you do too.
It is the light of heaven inside of us that will dispel this darkness, but we must release it.
We must let it shine.

This, we can do.
It may look differently for each of us, but we all can do this.
I can write boldly.  I can speak boldly.  I can use every resource in my possession to love boldly.
Whatever you can do – do it.

Maybe you’re like me.  Maybe you believe there is beauty and truth in this world and it is worth rescuing.  OK, then, let’s be bold.
Let’s pray boldly – on our knees with real words and in real faith that our God hears us.
Let’s love boldly – with our words and our actions, even especially when it’s hard.
Let’s live boldly – committing to go to the people and places God calls us to and doing the things he has called us to do.
Let’s pour out light, pour out heaven, everywhere and on everyone that we can…until the darkness is gone.

If you’re looking for one simple place to start right now try this –
Wherever you are, close your eyes.
Acknowledge God in all his goodness and power.
Ask Him what he has to say about all of this to you, specifically.
Filter what you hear through the truth of His word.  Listen…and then obey.  Even if it’s out of your comfort zone.  Even if you don’t feel qualified.  Even if you’re not sure where it will all lead…
trust and obey.

I listened to a lot of
reporters
and witnesses
and leaders
and professionals
tonight but there is one voice that I want to hear above the rest.  To hear him we will have to turn off the t.v. and get quiet and believe that he has something to say about all of this too.

I’m signing off now to do just that.  Care to join me?

Elizabeth Maxon
I'm a reader, writer, nose wiper, stain fighter, uncovering beauty and truth in my story and yours. Visit my blog MyWordsAndWonder.com.

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