It’s hard to beat the high of being in love. When I got engaged, I wanted everyone to know. We called our closest friends to tell them the hours following the proposal. I called an “emergency” meeting for my student leaders as soon as I got back to campus so I could tell them (which the majority had already guessed, but were thrilled anyway.) I flung my ring at anyone who wanted to see what my fiance had made for me. It wasn’t enough just to feel giddy, sitting in traffic, looking at my hand resting on the steering wheel. I wanted to tell people about what I was experiencing. The last thing I wanted to do was hide the love I was enjoying. I wanted to share it.
David seems to share a similar feeling, as he pens Psalm 40: “I have told the glad news of deliverance in the great congregation;behold, I have not restrained my lips, as you know, O Lord. I have not hidden your deliverance within my heart; I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation; I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness from the great congregation.” (Psalm 40: 9-10, ESV) From the sounds of it, David can’t contain his own joy at the love he’s been shown. He can’t keep this kind of a story to himself. He has to tell anyone who will listen.
One of my favorite parts of this Psalm is found in verse 17: “As for me, I am poor and needy, but the Lord takes thought for me.” David doesn’t try and convince anyone that he is greater than he is when telling his story. The love and faithfulness he has experienced comes from the Lord. He has nothing of his own merit to speak of.
As I read Forgiven this past week, I heard a similar story. The mother of the shooter in the Amish schoolhouse shooting in 2006 recounts her experience of the grief and shock that followed her oldest son’s deeds. I was expecting to understand the “why” behind such a horrific incident as I read these pages. Surely, the shooter’s mother could provide some insights as to who this man was and why he could kill children. Terri Roberts takes the reader back to her son, Charlie’s childhood and young adulthood, showing a sensitive, introverted, caring man. While there were small “clues” left in suicide notes by Charlie, there were no clear answers of why he killed those innocent girls or himself that terrible October day. (And those “clues” ended up to lead to more unanswered questions, as all of those he claimed to molest as a teenager denied that anything every happened.) As I concluded along with Terri that there may not be a way to make sense of it on this side of heaven, I realized that Terri wasn’t telling that story. She wasn’t trying to tell her son’s story. She was telling the story of God’s redemptive work in the midst of unspeakable evil.
The story Terri tells is of the forgiveness that comes from the friends and parents of those her son killed and wounded. She tells of the kindness of strangers in letters and cards from across the country. She tells of of how she was not abandoned or unloved in the midst of her grief and pain. She tells of the Amish community showing how God loves sinners louder than any sermon she’d ever heard. She tells of meals shared with the families of those her son murdered. She tells of how God answered her prayers for one of her son’s to forgive his brother and come to his funeral. She tells of the Lord’s faithfulness and steadfast love when her world fell apart. She tells of the goodness of the Lord in the midst of devastating circumstances.
Terri Roberts isn’t an exceptional writer. I wouldn’t say this book is particularly well written or incredibly articulated. But the story she tells of the Lord’s faithfulness is exceptional. I love that in spite of her own pain, her own limitations, her own admission that she is weak and needy, the Lord’s grace to her shines through. Out of her own grief and weakness, the Lord uses her to minister to the Amish years later in similar tragic circumstances. He uses her to care for the brokenhearted, from her own brokenness.
This Sunday I’m sharing my story of the Lord’s love for me at our youth group bonfire. As it is only a few days away, I’m feeling nervous and don’t fully want to. I felt my face grow red and my heart beat faster wondering what I’d just volunteered myself for as soon as I opened my mouth to say, “I’ll do it.” But as I read David’s words and Terri’s story, I find myself deeply resonating with what I find there. This isn’t my story. This is the story of Jesus’ love and faithfulness and deliverance towards me. I am poor and needy, yet he thinks of me and includes me in his kingdom work. This is what I hope to communicate, not just on Sunday night, but with my writing, my parenting, my marriage, my life. I can not hide such beautiful things in my heart. They are meant to be shared. I want my words, my voice, my writing, my life to tell of who Jesus is. The steadfast love and faithfulness of God is meant to be spoken of. I have to tell anyone who will listen.
*Bethany House Publishers provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255
There are still a few more days to be part of the Velveteen Rabbit giveaway!
As a small thank you for reading, I’ll be giving a copy of the Velveteen Rabbit away. For a chance to have it sent to you, just do one of the following:
- write a comment on the blog
- share any of my blog posts on facebook (and tag me so I know you did it)
- subscribe to the blog (the button is on the side)
I’ll pick a winner in next week, after we welcome November to our calendars. Thanks for reading, friends. I’m so grateful for you.