The Bare Soul - April 22, 2007
"A Week of Tragic Mourning"

As a barefoot runner, I glean real joy and fun from doing what I love, whether it's out on my daily runs or with others at running events. Oh, to be able to stay on this mountain of existence always! Psalm 16:11 states that in "God's presence is fullness of joy". Many days, I experience a measure of that closeness and I treasure those days of nearness as I get to experience my Creator through not only my barefoot running but as it spills out into other areas of life. My best days are those that not only have a closeness of God's presence of joy in my soul but when I can share that experience with others.

This week, however, has been one of those weeks of reflection for so many of us. If we did not know anyone personally at Virginia Tech we were all touched in a profound way by the transience of life and how things can turn so tragic in the blink of an eye! This week has made so many of us reaffirm that there are seasons for all things ... a time to give birth, a time to die ... a time to rejoice, and a time to mourn. Sometimes, these are unwelcome seasons, but as the seasons of the year come without our permission so also do these that can sometimes beset us without warning or without any explainable reason. The writer of these "seasonal" words also said in the book of Ecclesiastes that "It is better to go to the house of mourning, then it is to the house of feasting, for this is the end of every man and the living take it to heart". Solomon in his seemingly harsh look at life suggests that it is better to be reflecting on eternity because this is something that we will all one day have to reckon with. If life were merely day after day of satisfaction and soulish and bodily contentment, then we would quickly become "unrelated" with the a world that is hurting all around us. While in a state of seemingly never ending peace and joy, our hearts are not pricked by the true suffering that happens around us daily -- heartaches that God is only too aware every moment since time began. Truly, there would be no mountain top vistas to enjoy the splendors of God's creation if there were no valleys. Valleys, and most importantly their depths, define the truly majestic mountain top experiences that we all have -- IF, we continue our journey through the valley of the shadow of evil. For surely, there is another hill to climb, and then another, and then finally we come to that mountain crest where God allows us to bask in the glory of his creation.

Marathon running and mountain climbing are both similar endurance activities which I know a little about. Just when you think you can't go another step, God gives each of us the ability to draw from deep within to muster another step, another few feet up the mountain, another mile if we are running a race. The key is ... don't lose hope because the end is nearer than you think! Solomon in another passage stated that "... the end of a thing is better than its beginning." So true! At the beginning, we haven't a good sense how long we can hold out or how much anguish that we can endure, but God knows. That is why He will never allow us to start something that He will not enable us to finish. So many quit before the miracle comes! There are many that are hurting today, not only those involved with last week's shootings but many all around us. The Virginia Tech tragedy merely makes it painfully clear that there is madness and insanity bound up in the heart of humankind. However, the truth and the light that Jesus Christ brought to this earth can dispel the pollution that has plagued human's souls for millennia.

God is speaking to all of us during this time, "Do not lose hope". Solomon stated that "Hope deferred makes the heart sick". There is a whole world around us that is "heart sick" because they do not have hope that things will change or that there is anything other than their present lot to look forward to. God, however, had a plan by sending his son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to take away the soul-sickness of hopelessness and give instead the promise of eternal life. My prayer is that all who have been touched by this past week's tragedy can know that assurance. What a glorious heritage He has promised to all that would but believe!

In Christ and For His Glory!

Barefoot Rick

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