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Be the Light

This is my favorite time of the year.  I love the smell of fresh baked Christmas cookies, the twinkle of lights on evergreen trees, and the joy of the holiday music.  The reason I love this season so much is the hope that swirls in the air.  In the middle of the uncertainty in which we live — mass shootings, abuse of power, and barbaric behavior — a single thread of hope is powerful.  Hope anchors the soul.

Nobel Prize winner Desmond Tutu, a South African clergyman says, “Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all the darkness.”


In the July issue of SUCCESS Magazine, Jamie Friedlander tells this story of hope:

Los Angeles resident Mohamed Bzeek, 62, encompasses what it means to be selfless. He has taken in terminally ill children who are in the L.A. foster care system for the past 20 years — initially with his wife, Dawn, and now alone since her death in 2014.

Bzeek, originally from Libya, has cared for 40 children throughout the past two decades and currently takes care of a 6-year-old girl who is blind, deaf and paralyzed.  He says that although he knows she cannot see or hear him, he always holds her and talks to her so she knows she’s not alone in the world.

Hope anchors the soul.

Journalist Jesus Jimenez tells this story:

 When Johnny Jennings visited Georgia Baptist Children’s Home, he felt it was his life’s mission to help the children.  He was 18 at the time and not ready to adopt a child, so he started helping financially.  Jennings began collecting scrap paper and aluminum so he         could cash in his collections for money.  Today Jennings is 86 and has donated more than $400,000 over the course of his lifetime.

A single thread of hope is powerful.  

Start hunting for the stories of hope and tell them to everyone who will listen.  Better yet, create stories of hope in the middle of your world.  Be the light despite all the darkness. Christmas is many things, above all else, it’s a story of hope.

Discomfort that Inspires

Three days after the Thursday ambush that left five officer’s dead in the City of Dallas, Black Lives Matter supporters and their counter-protesters walked across the dividing line and introduced themselves to each other at a protest in Northpark Center.  Those introductions led to embraces and culminated with praying together.  It turns out they had more in common than they thought, and with a little determination they decided to find that commonality.  

At the memorial service Tuesday for our fallen officers, Former President George W. Bush said, "Too often we judge other groups by their worst examples, while judging ourselves by our best intentions.  This has strained our bonds of understanding and common purpose.

In the City of Dallas, the two supposedly opposing groups Black Lives Matter and Back the Blue have decided to unite their causes and work together to close the gap that exists in our nation between races and end the violence that impacts us all.  No one is real clear on how it happened but together they found unity, hope, and a higher purpose.

In the wake of all the senseless violence we’ve seen in this nation over the past few days and weeks, you are likely sitting in front of your TV stunned.  The tragedies that are beyond words can sometimes drive us to gather the people we love and go into hiding. I’m grateful to the two protest groups who chose to leave the comfort of their home and stand up for what mattered to them.  Leaving the comfort of the line of people with whom they held common beliefs and ideas and introducing themselves to people they seemed to be opposed to was a courageous and heroic step.  I want to be like them!  

This desire to pull into our shells will not help our city, our state or our nation.  It might not even be good for our families. The comfort of familiarity kills our ability to adapt,  grow, and find new inspiration.  In light of what’s been modeled to me in Dallas, I will be intentional in stepping across the invisible lines of division and introduce myself to places that bring discomfort, so that I can be part of the solution, so that I can learn to adapt, so that I can grow and be inspired.  Will you do the same?



Are you Looking for a Corpse?

Whether or not Holy Week is a part of your faith system, it’s doubtful that you have missed the fact that this is Holy Week.  One of the authors who recorded the events of that week started describing Sunday morning with the word “it was still dark.”  Obviously he was referring to the time of day but also to the state of things.  The state of things on that day were grim.  Many had put their hope in someone that was now dead.  As I read those words this week, I thought about the state of things in 2016.  Having just watched the tragedy of Brussels, the state of things here can seem hopeless.  Certainly this is a dark hour.

As I continue to read from this original author, he focuses on Mary, a women who was present at the cross and is now at the grave.  She is mourning and full of emptiness.  Mary moves through the dark to the tomb not expecting anything but to simply be there.  She is in the middle of her own darkness, her own loss.  This is a place to come and grieve.

Mary is already in shock and what she finds now is incomprehensible.  The tomb is empty, the body of her precious and loved friend is gone.  All she wants at this point is for someone to give her back the dead body of Jesus.  She runs right into a fully alive Jesus outside the tomb but she doesn’t recognize him.  Experts like to debate why Mary didn’t recognize Jesus.  It seems really simple to me.  She wasn’t looking for him!  She was looking for a corpse.  She was expecting death.  

When you’re looking for death you won’t recognize life! 

When you focus on your job as a place where you are underpaid and overworked, then all your looking at is death.  You aren’t expecting to find life there.  When you see your future as hopeless, all you are focused on is loss.  You can not see life because your looking for a carcass.  

When you read the original story you see that Mary had to “turn to face him.” She had her back to the One who was Alive.  She could not take her eyes off the tomb.  She kept facing the place that housed death!  What is it you are focused on? Decide today to get your eyes off of death!

Stop looking for a corpse and start looking for LIFE!