What a way to define yourself! I cannot imagine anything better than the person on the left to powerfully picture Jesus’ claim that some people are dead … even if physically they do take up breathing space. I cannot imagine anything better than the person on the right to more powerfully picture that Jesus gives life giving water that actually raises us from death to new life. Salvation is a move from death to life. Actually. And, her pictures show what is less obvious yet just as true for all of us.
Here is how I described the new Deonna at her recent graduation.
“I have been walking with two atheists toward death as they can actually see the end of their lives. One of them tells me, ‘Randy, I used to lay on the ground outside at night and just marvel at what some call the heavens. The consistencies, majesty, and beauty of those stars night after night are profound. I wondered how it could be that it all happened by chance. It is amazing.’
The Bible says the heavens speak. They speak of the glory of God. If we listen we can hear (Psalm 19). In fact, the creation speaks so clearly that if we do not hear what is spoken we are without excuse and we will actually corrupt our own minds (Romans 1:18-32). However, the struggle of an atheist who rejects God because of seeing war, pain, and unimaginable suffering can teach us a truth. Lay under the stars at night and listen. Listen and you can hear the heavens speak of God’s power. Yet, ask those stars that speak so clearly of God’s power about your deepest pain – and they are silent. The stars say nothing about the meaning of our suffering, why our world is so fallen, and why innocent children face life challenges no human being can face. We cry out into a universe that feels like it does not hear our cry and just responds with an insulting silence.
Deonna is beautiful … way beyond what we see on the surface. She is beautiful because … because by her openness to God healing her pain she IS the voice of God to others in their pain. She speaks what the stars themselves cannot express. She carries within her own story the story of God that not only explains but that also heals our deepest wounds. Others may choose not to hear just as an atheist may choose not to hear what the stars DO speak. Yet, she has a message for any who is truly honest. And, that message is her life lived as an irrefutable proof that we can choose not to waste our pain, that our pain is meaningful, and that our pain is often the place where we join God’s deepest work in the world.
Here is where I saw Deonna’s beauty as we processed her story. I saw her beauty in the “yet.” Notice. She experienced pain she could not control and that runs deeper than what 99% of the population will ever know. YET, a thread running through her life was a need to help others who were hurting … even when they were hurting less than her. This was her hidden spark of life in a body of death. She has not become one who thanks God for the gift and then runs away from God’s work to heal those who have not found healing. No wonder she is now assisting John 3:17 to care for incoming residents who need what she has found. Do you hear what I hear? She has become a voice who can be heard even when the stars have nothing they can say.”