"Walk By Faith, Not By Sight" 2 Corinthians 5:7
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds,3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.-James 1:2-3
Friday, September 12, my boyfriend and I did not know or think that we would be put through a trial that would be a testing of our faiths. Josh was on his way to school when he got a phone call that turned his world upside down. Something that I can’t really say any other way than just stating the facts occurred and put us on the road to Mayfield, Kentucky. His nephew, who was a senior in high school, had been shot and killed, and Josh’s sister, his nephew’s mom, had been kidnapped. As we headed out to Kentucky, Josh received another phone call, informing us that his sister had been found, but she had not made it out alive. However, the man who convicted the crime was caught and is now in custody.
It was something that you always heard about in the news or in movies, but never thought would occur to you. I write about this not to highlight the tragedy that occurred, but to focus on the positives that have happened as a result to this tragedy. Obviously, as the events following the day that we received the phone call were not easy and full of sorrow, grieving and hurt. But, we have seen so much love that has been a result of this event. Being the girlfriend in the situation, and being separate of the family (this was the first time I had met any of his family), and not knowing the two victims gave me a different perspective. Guys, I cannot express how much joy has come to me as a result of God’s plan! You may be thinking, Wait, how is two people being murdered a part of God’s plan? How can you be so positive about this situation? Let me start by saying that I have no understanding of God’s full plan, but I know and have faith that His plan is must greater than anything we can imagine. I always go back to one of my favorite verses from Matthew 6. It talks about how God provides for the birds of the air, and how much more valuable we are to God. Think of Genesis 1. In Genesis, we are given the story of creation and how God gave the authority to rule over and name all the animals of the earth to man. Obviously, God has shown favor upon mankind. And, therefore, He is going to take care of us. God is love, as the bible tells us. He loves us. But, we have also learned about being children of God. When God sent his son, Jesus to die on the cross for our sins, he mended a broken relationship that was a result of sin entering the world in the Garden of Eden. But, by sending Jesus Christ to die on the cross, even though Jesus, being God in the flesh, was sin-free and perfect, died on behalf of all sins that were committed, are happening right now, or will happen. All we have to do is believe that, and proclaim with our lips that Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior.
“Look at the birds of the air’ they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” – Matthew 6:26
The Old Testament occurred prior to Jesus’ first coming. However, the Old Testament spoke of his coming to earth to save. To me, that is one amazing example of how God has a plan. How does that even relate to the circumstances I’ve mentioned? Well, Josh has mentioned more than three times how his sister and nephew, though he lost them, were never his to begin with, but are God’s children. When you give your life to Christ, proclaiming that he is your savior, you are adopted into the greatest family ever, and God becomes your Heavenly Father. After all, He is our Creator. Because God has a plan, and is the Maker of all, including abstract ideas (such as time), we, as believers, can confidently say that it was their time to return home to their Heavenly Father. It doesn’t necessary make it easier for us to bear such a worldly loss, but we have been giving peace knowing that Josh’s sister and nephew had lived a life glorifying God. And, you know what is so great about this situation? God has revealed His gift of redemption to many people, including 30 people in just Josh’s father’s church the week of the crisis. Those 30 were people who made the decision to step forward at the church and boldly say they are now children of God’s. That is not including those in the surrounding churches or areas.
Josh’s family has continued to love everyone, including relatives and the man who committed the crime. It is not of their own doing, either, but by God’s grace. This man’s family decided to come to the visitation. Now, you might be thinking How dare they?! Guys, we are so glad they came! We know that it must have been one of the hardest decisions of their life, not knowing if they would be embraced with love, or with hate. But, God spoke to them and told this family to come. A family that had been affected so much and lost two of their loved ones, literally wrapped this man’s mom and sisters in their arms, prayed for them, and invited them in. They also prayed for the felon. They could have listened to the distractions from Satan, telling them to hate. But, they heard God say love.
Not only did love pour out from Josh’s family, but from a community of about 10,000 individuals. Flowers, cards, meals and more were sent to them. About 1/4 of the town came to the visitation! What I find unbelievable about that is that 1/4 of the town was affected by the ministry of Kim and Eli’s life. They were shown God’s love through these individuals and, as a result, saw the Gospel being lived! That really spoke to me. It made me think, “How am I living today for God in such a way that will further His kingdom?”
One of the biggest lessons we have taken away from this situation comes straight from God’s word, which was a sermon that was given within the midst of the events surrounding this tragedy. The pastor taught about the storm that Jesus calmed for his disciples as the traveled by boat. Many of these men were fishermen by profession, and yet, they encountered a storm that raged so strongly that they feared for their safety. But, Jesus was able to calm the storm, saying, “Quiet! Be still (Mark 4:39 NIV)!” The waves and winds calmed and the sea was as peaceful as a lake. We were reminded that in the midst of the storm, we can call out to Jesus and he will quiet the storm for us and protect us. We learned to seek peace from the only one who can truly give it; God, Creator of All. Josh told me that throughout that week and the following weeks, whenever he felt or feels overwhelmed, he remembers, “Peace, be calm (as seen in some translations).”
This situation was not an easy one, nor am I suggesting so by these events. But, I can proudly proclaim that God is alive and is moving!
Stay tuned for part 2…