Originally, I thought about titling this post Twelve Days of Death, but even I recoiled at those words. Since the last two weeks have delivered up more questions than answers, I decided to go with Twelve Days of Why?
For those who may think I live on easy street if I only have twelve days of why? – don’t. Why? became the compelling question I began pursuing answers to the bulk of my adult life. Given that I am, for God’s purposed reasons, a noticer of patterns, a recent twelve days out of our ‘ordinary’ resulted in asking why? more times in short order than I expected.
And, so it began
Little things that had nothing to do with death – more like paper cuts – started right out of the TSA PreCheck gate that was shut just as we stepped up next in the zippy security line. O-kaaay. Then, the meal I had reserved online for my husband was sold by one of the flighty attendants to another passenger several rows ahead of us. Well, lookey there. Yep, you reserved it. So sorry. The male flight attendants shared eye-ball rolls and gave us some bonus miles. To her credit, she did give my hungry spouse some cheese and crackers. We went to bed on some really good pizza and salad.
There’s not one of us on the planet that has not been caught unprepared at some time or another. Try as we may to be a good Boy Scout who is ‘always prepared’, life has a way of reminding us we are not (really) in control.
Three days of letting down later, I woke on a Sunday morning to find that a beautiful young life had slipped away in her sleep the day before. Parents, husband, twin babies a handful of weeks from celebrating their first birthday…why?? Unprepared. Unexplainable. Too relatable. My heart echoed many others’ as the ache set in. I learned the day before we flew home that she and her young family resided less than an hour from where we were visiting for the week. From one corner of the U.S. to the other, so close but passing like ships in the night.
A few hours later I read of the El Paso mass shooting at WalMart that also occurred the day before. When I mentioned it to our daughter, she told us of the Dayton shooting as that relentless Saturday turned to Sunday.
The twelve days of why? had plummeted to a heart-wrenching low. No one was prepared except for those who had done their evil planning, willing to die for the fame of making a hellish final statement with others’ lives. Death and Life shared the day, while Eternity keeps its own clock.
Grace, how can it be
Meanwhile, the twelve days of why? were still young. Sparing detail, I’ll say that being authentic takes courage.
It takes more courage to embody truth for healing than it does to hide and pretend that life’s pain is no big deal. There is a decided death to self-preservation when honest conversation is the menu of the day. Choosing to trust when God says “do not fear” speaks volumes to the spirits of darkness intent on convincing you it will be the death of all you love and hold dear. The father of lies can only speak lies. But the daughter of the King can speak truth and live to tell about it.
Not so with Jeffrey Epstein. The twelve days of why had no question mark attached to them in his regard. Just the tried and tested understanding that being authentic takes courage. Instead, he reaped by his own hand the death he had sown in the lives of so many young women. I pray for their regeneration, for I know God is able. Though they never got their day in court, the God of all grace will yet preside over the eternal halls of justice.
But wait, there’s more
Really? We arrived home with a few more days to spare. The plan was to enjoy checking off a couple of summer bucket list items, which we did – including a trip to one of our city’s beautiful gardens and a ballgame.
Now in our vacation turned staycation, I glanced out the patio slider doors the first day back. Poor French lilac bush, it looked wilted and in need of some extra water. We had missed a few days of heavy hanging smoke from a nearby summer wildfire. Our not so fair city had earned the #1 slot for worst air quality in the nation.
In the meantime, my husband decided to use our last day off to do some car maintenance. Four or five ants/termites/little buggers decided to show themselves in the shop rafters while he set to work. Only after he finished did he go on a critter hunt. Four or five became an infestation discovered and a fire in the gravel drive with death to a tent in a pouch later…
We were now on day eleven of the twelve days of why?
The infestation was tackled and overcome, but what did not survive was my sweetly perfumed French lilac. It wasn’t smothered by smoky air. It did not lack for water, for everything green around it was summer beautiful. It wasn’t chewed on by ravenous bugs. Its demise was cold and calculated, the poison applied in strict containment to just the lilac bush. Sunday morning, our last day of time off, there was no choice but to call it.
However! Death does not win
We returned to our ‘ordinary’ life routine which concluded the twelve days of why? Death and life were more on display in obvious, can’t miss ‘em ways than has been the norm. Scripture has flooded my mind. It hasn’t escaped me that my previous writing was The Genuine and The Counterfeit, with the admonition that we don’t come to know the genuine (Life) by studying the counterfeit (death). The counterfeit is exposed and brought to death in the light and life of the only One who is The Genuine.
I may plant a new French lilac bush in defiant sowing of life in place of the twelve days of death.
If I do, she shall be christened L’Eve as a testament that death will one day be fully swallowed up –
He will swallow up death for all time,
And the Lord God will wipe tears away from all faces,
And He will remove the reproach of His people from all the earth;
For the Lord has spoken.
Isaiah 25:8 (NASB)
~ Gracefully Free