Have you ever watched a child on a swing? Not when they use the swing as it was designed, but when they sit on the swing and twist it in circles. It can be fun. The chains that hold up the swing become more and more twisted until the child simply isn’t strong enough to twist it anymore. In a rush the potential energy is released! The child spins out of control screaming cheerfully as the world whirls by in a blur of color and wind.
I sometimes wonder if that’s how the world works. Yesterday was a day of tragedy.
- A tornado passed near the city of Wewoka.
- Last night Oklahoman’s were shaken by 5 different earthquakes felt from Oklahoma City to Owasso and beyond.
- In 2011 Officer Chad Peery was partially paralyzed while breaking up a bar fight. This past weekend Officer Peery was involved in a car accident. He died yesterday.
- Monday afternoon at the end of the Boston Marathon two explosions took the lives of three people, including an 8-year-old boy, and injured hundreds.
Words are never adequate to the task of expressing condolences, compassion or the depth of grief associated with events like these. Our hearts and prayers are with those affected by each of these tragedies. More than that, really. Many will donate blood or give money, resources or time to help advance the healing. Most people stand ready to provide whatever assistance is necessary to bring justice, peace and some sense of meaning to each of these twisted tragedies. Some will search for those responsible for the bombing. All will search for answers.
Days like yesterday cause people to ask questions. Why? Who? What? How could anyone possibly do something like this? These are legitimate questions with surprisingly few genuinely satisfying answers. My only feeble explanation is the swing.
This life we’ve been given is precious. It’s valuable. We’ve also been designed by our Maker to enjoy life a certain way. Like the swing, there is a back and forth to life that, when rightly handled, can be a remarkably exhilarating experience. It can be the kind of experience that makes you believe you can fly, that ‘anything-is-possible-moment’ when the swing reaches its highest peak and for a brief second you rise above the bar to move faster, rise higher and see farther than ever before. Getting there takes time, effort and energy. You’ll never experience such a moment if you don’t use the swing the right way.
And that’s our challenge. Instead of experiencing life the way it was designed we go our own way. We sit still on the swing thinking we’ll never get anywhere. We get bored. We get distracted. We begin twisting the swing in ways it was never designed to work. The pressure increases as the chains get tighter. The effort required to simply rest and sit still becomes more difficult to manage. The tension builds until we can’t hold it anymore. The twisted chains spin us out of control. You might think once the tension is released the ride is over. But it’s not. You never spin back to center. The swing always goes past where you started. Things get all twisted and the tension builds again.
I wonder if this is how the world works. It often seems that way.
When tragic times come there are no truly satisfying answers, only one relevant question, “What’s next?”
- In light of the new circumstances, how will I pray?
- As facts come to light how will justice be satisfied and by whom?
- Am I experiencing life the way God designed or am I somehow increasing the tension?
- How can I use who I am and what I have in this moment to straighten out the twisted things of this world?
Psalm 62:1-2 say, “I wait quietly before God, for my victory comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation my fortress where I will never be shaken.”
What is your next step of faith?