In the last blog I shared, I revealed a crisis in my heart. I was hurting, and struggling to find my way around the hurt. I was tired, and longing for an opportunity to rest. I spent this weekend resting, and praying, and thinking about The Torch, and my life. I stopped and dissected the words and sentences and phrases that were flung at me last week, and I considered the sources, the motives, and the reasons why people would want to tear me, and The Torch, down. Instead of trying get around the hurt, I dove right in and let it hurt as I prayed and sought strength from God. I let myself rest, which I rarely do. I might be the least lazy person I know - and that’s not fake, it’s been who I am my whole life. But this weekend I was lazy. Yet in my laziness, I was productive, because I focused on God, and hope and forgiveness toward others.
This morning, I woke up and read an interesting, yet gruesome, story in my Bible. Read Judges 19, and you will know what I mean. I really need to read through chapter 21 to get to the conclusion of that story, but I stopped because I wanted to contemplate what happened, and to try to understand why a story like that is in the Bible. It made me sad because it depicts people without hope. It shows how deeply we can plunge into things that harm ourselves and others as we try to satisfy our inner hopelessness. It demonstrates what happens when we don’t see people as people, but rather as a means to an end, or, even worse, as having lives without worth. The woman in the story was a person. The Levite was a person. The depraved people of the city were people. All were human beings whose lives have infinite value to God. And yet, they had lost their way. And a life was horribly taken and destroyed as if it never counted. There is a very powerful source of evil in this world, and if those who don’t want it to thrive just stand down and give up, it will continue to grow strong.
I was struck by all of those thoughts as I contemplated that story. People need hope. People need to be valued and loved, no matter who they are. They matter. As I worked my way through the struggles of the past week, but in reality the negativity that has pummeled me throughout the past few years, I began to soften again and to understand the source of the discouragement and hatred that comes my way. I have been able to pray for them, and to find peace in my heart which allows me to let go of their discouraging words and once again cling to the joy and hope that The Torch represents.
I am not a quitter. I received a very clear and powerful reminder of that this morning. He gave me a sign, if you will. It put a smile on my face, actually brought forth a chuckle, and flooded my heart with joy as I realized God was revealing Himself to me in a way I did not expect. I have no lofty ideas that I am some super-special-super-hero, even though we play around with that concept with our Torch woman. I have no misguided ideas that that I am superior to anyone I help or who helps with what we are doing at the Torch.
The events of the past week have served to remind me why I carry the Torch, and why I can’t give up. I carry The Torch because human lives matter. I carry the Torch because YOU matter. I carry The Torch because I can - in spite of my weaknesses, frailties, mistakes and blunders - I can carry on. I carry the Torch because you can, too. I carry The Torch because people need hope, and it is never too late to change a life. I carry the Torch because love matters, compassion matters. I carry the Torch because I am not satisfied with the status-quo. I carry the Torch because maybe I can ignite a spark in you to pick up a torch and move forward with your dreams. I carry the Torch because food brings people together. I carry the Torch because it represents hope, and moving forward and never, ever, giving up even though sometimes I will stumble and fall. I carry the Torch on in spite of the opposition and negativity. I carry the Torch because of the opposition and negativity. I'm here. I'm staying. If I fall I will get back up, and I will continue to carry the Torch. So, just in case you read my previous blog, and you are wondering...I will continue to carry the Torch.