As our three youngest babes prayed with me yesterday, I saw laced fingers and tightly shut eyes and heard a resounding finish of, "Amen" to the God they know is listening. Just days before, Gabriel had written in a letter, "...today I received my dog tags - it is moving and stirring to see them hanging around my neck as I lean over the bathroom stall...I know it is a morbid thought, but if something ever happened to me, I would like Elias to have them." The reading of Gabe's words felt like a foreshadowing of Friday when one of Gabriel's classmates died in an field training exercise. It was the same day that almost 100 Norwegian youth were murdered. I felt the weight of so much sorrow, and ached for the grieving families of each of those precious teenagers.
In the garden, a picture of hope came to my mind. There is a stunningly beautiful clematis climbing the lamppost. It surprises me each Spring when the courageous vine seeks to survive in a treacherous part of the yard, where little good can be found. Ages ago, when I planted the shoot, I'd hoped for instant beauty. Until last week the scraggly remnant yearly had produced only leaves on a thirsty stem. When the buds finally appeared I did not expect huge, exquisite, deep purple flowers from a living thing that had known such struggle. I looked at those flowers today with new eyes. God kindly has been teaching me to be thankful for the privilege of difficulty and sorrow, and to trust His promise in the end; that He will wipe away every tear, that joy comes in the morning and that good can come from evil. His book of Truth is the Living Water for our thirsty souls.
Gabriel also wrote these thoughts this week, "God is indeed good. He is terribly good...terrible in His goodness, meaning that the force and power behind his shaping would overwhelm us, were we not able to behold the mercy and love that guides those hammer blows, the heat of the forge and the freezing waters. For they fashion me into the weapon, yet give me with that the strength, the wisdom to allow myself to be wielded."
To yield to The Maker and thus, in surrender, be wielded by Him, is to face a world wrought with tragedy as a ready soldier. A soldier of the highest King armed with weapons not of this world, no, the only ones which can defeat evil; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Dog tags are for flesh, but the flesh is merely stem bound to earth. We are created for eternity and it is there we will fully bloom. Hope springs eternal, and to this we can say, "Amen!"