My Anchor Holds

1 Dead, 3 Injured After Shooting At Seattle Pacific University

I am still processing… I remain mostly wordless, save the moments of anger, sadness, and bewilderment. My wife is in a doctoral program at SPU, and my two incredible kids along with a number of other young adults from my church are undergrads at the University. There are also  some faculty and staff from SPU who attend the church I pastor. As I write, my heart is still numb and stunned in light of the tragic shooting event that happened on the SPU campus yesterday.

Tragedy and crisis reveal the foundation and reality of who we truly are. When we are squeezed through crisis, what comes out of us is what is inside of us. In other words, circumstances reveal our true character, not the exceptions to our character. How you respond reveals who you are.

The community of students, staff, and faculty at SPU are revealing that they are forming deeply into the image of Christ…

In the wake of this tragedy I see:

Courage…
Love…
Forgiveness…
Community…
Questions…
Mystery…
Emotional honesty…
Relational vulnerability…

spuIn the worst of situations, the SPU community is not pontificating a political stump speech exploiting someones pain for their platform, nor are they acting in a narcissistic frenzied fashion grabbing social media and air time. No, they are revealing that they have an anchor that is forming deep within their individual and collective soul that holds steady, yet not without frailty, in the storm.

As I was trying to connect with my kids hoping and praying that they were okay, along with the others I know there, my heart began to spontaneously sing a great hymn within the quiet corridors of my mind…

When darkness seems to hide His face,
I rest on His unchanging grace.
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.

On Christ the Solid Rock I Stand
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.

Darkness only seems to hide His (God’s) face…

God walks amongst the empty shotgun shells…

spu-spd6His Spirit is moving through the corridors of mind and dorm…

The wounds of Christ the only balm to heal such senseless evil…

At SPU, the anchor holds because it is tethered to something beyond the best we can offer on our own. The anchor is Christ Himself who alone understands the pain of a family asking “Why our boy?” “Why us?” 

I cannot imagine the pain this family is in…so I pray their anchor holds.

I cannot fathom the emotional gutting they are experiencing…so I pray their anchor holds.

I know life is now forever different for them…so I pray their anchor holds.

paul leeHis name is Paul Lee…he matters…his family matters…his friends matter…Paul’s journey on this side of eternity is over, but now he walks in pastures of grace with Christ, but for those who love him, the journey here will be one of sacred wounds…so I pray for this family, “may Christ be your anchor… pushing back the  darkness… and bathing you in healing grace.”

I am proud that the SPU community has chosen to refrain from pithy Christian clichés’, which minimize the pain, and instead, choose to wrestle with the uneasiness of the evil that has found a crack in which to enter their world.

I wondered if my kids would want to come home. At first they said yes, then I was as proud as a pastor dad could be when I heard, “No, I think I’ll stay here to be around to talk with people who need someone.” So instead, Amy and I will go in to visit them, it’s more for my soul than theirs. They are being light and part of their community in the right way.

Life is a gift..
Life is fragile…
Life is fleeting…

Jesus said, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:34) Life is the gift of the present moment, and that truly is all we have. The only way I know how to live well in the moment is to stay anchored to Christ. Jesus knows that when we are continually future-tripping we forget to hold, kiss, and say I love you to the ones that matter most to us.

But it is difficult to be in the moment when the moment is flooded with pain…

We want to escape…

We want to blame…

We want answers…

We want vengeance…

We want to medicate…

But what the SPU community is modeling right now is the choice to simply “Be” in the painful moment.

Silently, wordlessly, quizzically, and honestly. They are grieving well, and as a result, the peace of Christ is pushing back the darkness.

 

Their anchor holds…

 

My hat is off to Dr, Martin, the President of SPU, and the faculty, staff, and students.

You make me proud to be a Christ-follower  as your response in the spotlight of pain shines the light of Jesus in the darkness of the moment.

Your anchor holds, safe within the veil.

As for me, I can’t wait to hug my kids.

Powerful Prayers (vol. vii) “The Magnificat” ~Mary

The-annunciation

As we wind through the season of Advent, it reminds us that the darkness will not last forever, that God did and does intervene in our lives, and that the story isn't over yet…I thought it would be good to look at the prayer that erupted from Mary's soul when she received a message from the angel Gabriel that would forever change her life and ours.

The Magnificat… Luke 1:46-55 (ESV)

And Mary said,

“My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.

For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.

And his mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;
he has brought down the mighty from their thrones
and exalted those of humble estate;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.

He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
as he spoke to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”

___________________________

Rumination…

As I look at the average 14 year old-ish person today, I wonder if God could have found someone who could be torn away from their cellphone long enough to realize that God was inviting them to experience something beyond their wildest imagination.

Mary was most likely 14-15 years old when Gabriel entered and ultimately turned her world upside down.  She wasn't from a highly wealthy, political or even spiritual family. She was like us, and that is what makes the Incarnation so powerful. It's not about superstars or perfect ones…it's that good uses the unexpected ones to do unexpected things!

Beneath the urgency of the angelic visit, the bottom line of Gabriel's message to her was not only would she a portal for the Divine, but that her reputation was about to be destroyed… her fiancee' would soon struggle deeply with his sense of what was right… the Yentles of the village would begin to spin their tales of the newest unwed mother… and imagine what Mary's own mom and family would assume at the news that she was pregnant…

Who would really believe this unexpected truth?

In fact, Mary would carry this cloud of faith and pain all her life about the identity of her son. Her own soul was pierced as she stood at the foot of the cross, but she was vindicated when Jesus rose from the dead proving He was who she had said he was…but by that point, Mary really didn't care about vindication… because an encounter with the messiah changes the way we see and view all of life.

Here are a few things that Mary's prayer reminds me of:

1. Even when our circumstances are dismal, if we live with God in our soul, we can still be happy.

2. No matter what political, cultural, economic, or intellectual value we have or don't have, we are all highly valued and loved by God…that's the point of the Incarnation…God came on a rescue mission, not a condemnation mission.

3. God always responds to those who are seeking Him and His ways.

4. God is faithful to His promises…don't give up too soon!

5. God's kingdom is an upside down kingdom…

    If you want to be first…be last

    If you want to lead…serve

    If you have needs…give something away

    If you want to be blessed…admit that you are not in control of that blessing…

In this prayer, Mary taps into the truth that God is sovereign over everyone whether we acknowledge that or not…He is currently at work, and we each have our part to play in the Meta-Narrative of life. The story is not about us, it is about Him…however, how awesome it is to have a role in the greatest story ever written,

Dei Gratia,

Monty