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The Anniversary - year eight

It has been 8 years since a major earthquake rocked Haiti. The emotions of that day are never far from the surface. That raw fear and sense of hopelessness was as tangible as the heavy smoke of trash burning. Our lives were hanging in the balance. So many were lost. So many hearts were broken. So many remain broken even now.

We all were so touched by this horrific disaster – by the decimation of entire cities and by the stench of death. Have you ever literally smelled death? That’s not just a phrase for use in a storybook, it’s a reality. It’s a stink that is so revolting that it can literally cause us to vomit. After the earthquake, people would put toothpaste under their noses just to be able to function in the midst of the foulness. It totally makes sense to me that death stinks, because, well, death stinks – it’s our enemy.

Eight years ago, the world was heartbroken for the people of Haiti. Today, with my Facebook feed cluttered with comments about hurtful words being spoken against the people of Haiti, I wonder... Does anyone remember what this felt like?

As a child, my mother would always tell me, “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” My friends and I would chant in our high-pitched sing-songy voices, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” (Just imagining hearing that makes the hair on my neck stand on end!)

I think that motherly saying is simplistic and great advice for young children. However, sometimes there are difficult things that really do need to be said. Ephesians 4:15 is one of my very favorite verses in the Bible and has become my guide in such situations: “Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ…”

When I’m purposefully asking the Lord to use me as HIS mouthpiece, this is my go-to verse. I question my motivation in what I’m about to speak. Am I going to say this simply because “I know I’m right”? Or am I about to speak to positively impact the hearer’s life? God’s Word (the sword of the spirit) is SHARP. It can slice people to pieces, causing damage and pain, if it is wielded without love (self-righteously). But it can bring amazing healing (better than any skilled surgeon’s knife) if it is spoken in selfless love – wholly for the benefit of the hearer.

As for the childish chanting? I call it ignorance. Words can destroy entire civilizations.

More than anything, I want to be used of God. I want people to see the light of Jesus being reflected in and through me. I have plenty of political opinions, but that’s NOT what I want you to know about me. I want you to know that I am “chief” among sinners and yet God has welcomed me into His presence. He is my Father, because Jesus paid the penalty (which was death) for every sin I ever committed or ever will commit. I could never be a good enough person to earn His love. The reality is that He first loved me.

Sometimes we think we are consumed with a holy wrath –you know, like when Jesus overturned the money-changer’s tables. He didn’t do that for a political stance or for a worldly kingdom’s reputation, though. Believing strongly in something simply does NOT give me any special rights to “speak my mind.” No. Simply speak the truth in love.

People are people everywhere in this world. Sin is ever present and redemption is always close at hand. My Christ-loving, truth-believing, Bible-speaking friends: of all the truths, promises, and commandments contained within the Holy Bible, which is the greatest? Which should we hold to above all others? Which do you cling to when your boat is sinking?

Yes, it’s greater than proving your good doctrine and political correctness, too.

This is spoken (written) in love. Love the people of Haiti. Love the people of the USA. And pray for all our leaders.

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