Thursday, August 27, 2009


I awoke in the wee hours of this morning, aware that I had been crying in my sleep, the intense dream still clearly present in my mind.

In the dream, I was puttering around the house, doing the mundane thing of the day, when an angel of the LORD appeared and said, “Are you ready? It is time to go.”


“Yes, your time on the earth is over.”

“But I can’t go yet! I still have so many things I wanted to accomplish! And… and…no one is here with me! I need to tell them all I love them… just one more time, please! One more hour, please, that’s all I ask!”

“Very well. One hour. But you cannot go anywhere and you cannot tell anyone that you are about to die.”

And in the dream, I began to write, to pour out love and hopes and dreams and encouragement and gratitude to the people whom I love and cherish.

When I opened my eyes, my heart was pounding. What if it were true? What if this is my last day on this planet? Was I ready? And since the answer to that last question was an unequivocal “no”, what was I going to do about it?

Today, I am writing notes to my loved ones. Some of those notes will be in the mailbox this afternoon. Some people I will email. One of my children lives close enough to receive fresh, homemade cookies. My husband will be the recipient of some undivided attention.

Today, I will take the love that God has given to me and I will pour a measure of that love into every person with whom I have contact, from the banker to the salesclerk to the insurance representative on the phone. I will take Jesus with me. I will listen to the Spirit. I will praise my God and tell of His work in my life. No complaining. No arguing. Only loving.

And, LORD willing, I will do the same tomorrow.

Friend, today may be your last. There is no time to complain or argue. There is no time to waste on things that do not matter. The angel of the LORD does not give an extra hour.

What are you going to do about it? Are you ready? That’s the big question.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Be Still

As the school year begins, I am reminded again to sit at the feet of our Teacher.

I need to spend more time listening. God does not shout. He does not struggle for attention. He is the teacher who stands and waits. He does not raise His voice over the din, but gives His lessons in near-whispers. The student must lean close.

This class has only one student, but she has more noise and commotion in her head than 115 six-year-olds at Chuck E. Cheese. Be still?

I walk around my mind-field, searching for the day’s target. God, is this the place you want me today? Is it here? Do I write today? Do I work on the illustrations? Do I pray?

Be still.

God does not shoot arrows at a moving target. He stands behind the archer and guides her arrow. Do not be the target, Lisa. Be the archer. Be still. Await instruction.

I, the "OCD-gifted” multi-tasker, struggle with this simple order. Being still, like napping, is a waste of time! I protest! Yet the Spirit commands.

The refrigerator hums. The clock ticks. The dryer buzzes. The cat scratches at the door. I need a shower. My husband will be home for lunch in less than an hour.

Be still.

Then I hear. “On Christ the Solid Rock I stand”… “Create in me a clean heart”… “I come to the garden alone”… The songs flood my heart and I worship.

The phone rings. When I pick it up, before I say “hello”, I hear my husband singing, “Blessed be the name of the Lord!” I smile. He has been listening, too.

Tell me God doesn’t know what He’s doing.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Will the next George Sodini please stand up?

I read his blog yesterday. It has taken me a full day to process it, and I don’t know that I will ever understand. Yet, I feel compelled to write about it.

George grew up, got a good job, bought a house and waited for life to have meaning.

George longed for a partner. He believed a woman would make him complete. He wrote, “A man needs a woman for confidence. He gets a boost on the job, career, with other men, and everywhere else when he knows inside he has someone to spend the night with and who is also a friend.” Yet this kind of relationship eluded him. At 48, he was still single, and he had lost hope: “This type of life I see is a closed world with me specifically and totally excluded.”

George read self-help books and subscribed to a program that purported to teach him how to find a mate. He worked at making himself desirable, joining a gym, going to a tanning salon, being careful about personal grooming. And yet, he said, “I always had hope that maybe things will improve especially if I make big attempts to change my life. I made many big changes in the past two years but everything is still the same. Life is over.”

He wrote about a talk-show. A caller spoke of the hopelessness of living in the inner city where men engaged in destructive behavior so as to shorten their miserable lives.

In January, he wrote, “The future holds even less than what I have today.” It was the day George “chickened out”. He had a plan for that evening, but said, “I always think I am forgetting something, that's one reason I postponed. Similar to when you leave to get in your car to go somewhere - you hesitate with a thought: ‘what am I forgetting?’ In this case, I cannot make a return trip!” After a few months of despondency, George finally put his plan into action.

On August 4, 2009, George Sodini walked into a crowded Pittsburgh gym class, unzipped his bag, pulled out two guns, turned off the lights, and opened fire. Three women died and many others were injured before he turned the gun on himself and ended his life.

As a human and as a Christian, I ache.

His blog showed that he’d attended a local church for thirteen years, until 2006. He credits his former pastor: “…this guy teaches (and convinced me) you can commit mass murder then still go to heaven. Ask him… I think his crap did the most damage.”
George wrote on August 3, “Maybe soon, I will see God and Jesus. At least that is what I was told. Eternal life does NOT depend on works. If it did, we will all be in hell. Christ paid for EVERY sin, so how can I or you be judged BY GOD for a sin when the penalty was ALREADY paid. People judge but that does not matter. I was reading the Bible and The Integrity of God beginning yesterday, because soon I will see them.”

I’ve looked up the website George gave for the church. I cannot tell what kind of church it is. The page that is supposed to tell of their doctrine is down, with the message "Our newly revised doctrinal statement will be available soon.” Revised doctrine? It leaves me to wonder: Did they teach George that it isn’t enough to just believe in Jesus, but that you have to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior in order to go to Heaven? Or was that the thing that he referenced earlier that he was forgetting, the reason he was unable to go through with the plan because he knew something was missing? It is frustrating and maddening and distressing that someone could come so close to the Truth and yet miss it!

George was empty and he needed Jesus.

George had “Christians” in his life. He described one of them. “I have been in barrooms and church groups. The worst people by far are the religious types. Especially a right-wing, stiff-faced fundie like Andy. A condescending, demeaning, passive-aggresive person. Frigid, rigid, linear and totally inflexible. Being a very serious person, he cannot hide his frown-lined face. He better not try to smile; lest his face might crack.”

Is this how the world views us? Is this how your lost friends see you?

Brothers and sisters, where are we failing? Is our joy not evident? Are we not giving an account for the hope we have? Are we not being light and salt? Is there nothing different in us? How will they recognize truth unless they see it in us first?

Is the next George Sodini sitting in the next cubicle? Is he your neighbor? Is she the loner in Biology class? How God’s heart must ache!

Lord God, You came to seek and save the lost and you have given us the task now of seeking them and leading them to you. I pray that you open our eyes and prick our hearts! Amen!