Two days ago I came home from a week-long writers’ conference. I left the peace and quiet of a beautiful redwoods setting where I had gone a week without turning on my computer or even watching a TV. I arrived at home in time to watch the evening news, which was still filled with the terrible images of the terrorist attacks in Brussels where at least 30 people had died and many more were injured.
A family appeared on the news, sobbing happy tears because they had just heard from their son in Brussels and he was alright. Other stories were told of Americans who were caught up in the attacks and jumped in to help others. I’m sure just seeing their faces on TV and hearing their voices gave great comfort to their loved ones at home. I thought of my own husband, in another country at that moment attending a conference. I thought of my daughter, living in New York City, where security around tourist and transportation sites had already been tightened. I wanted to know they were safe too.
In times of great distress, we find out what really matters to us. Our peace is shattered for a time, and we think, “If I just could know my husband is okay…” “If I just could see my child again…” “If I could just get through this and get home again….” We all have someone or something that makes us feel safe, or whole, or happy, and the thought of losing that person or thing terrifies us.
It reminds me of when my daughter was two years old and had to have a minor surgical procedure. She was so scared when they took her away from us to begin the procedure. Sometime later, a nurse came to tell us the procedure went well and our little girl was fine. She had woken up and started to cry, but then she saw the two stuffed animals we had brought along for her. She gathered one in each arm, smiled, and went back to sleep.
It reminds me of the words of Jesus, too. He warned his disciples that to follow him meant giving up a comfortable place to live (Luke 9:57-58). It meant walking away from family (Luke 9:61-62), walking away from work (Matthew 4:18-20), giving away our treasure (Mark 10:17-22). Not everyone who follows Jesus is called to walk the same path, but we are all called to hold lightly to the things of this world so we can hold tightly to the hand of our Lord and Savior.
Today is a good day to take inventory. What are you holding onto? What are you afraid to lose? What is it you think you need? Close your eyes for a moment, open your hands, and lift them up to Jesus. Listen to him say, “I am all you need.” Trust him in this moment. And the next time that terror or tragedy strike, reach first for Jesus. When disappointment falls like a shadow, reach for Jesus. When fear clouds your view, reach for Jesus. He really is all you need.
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What is my mission as an author? It's a tough question, but I believe the goal dearest to my heart is to help Christians think about what they really believe and then to act as if they really believe it. It all begins with understanding what it means to be a Christian. Then we have to learn to live like a Christian.