I have a daughter. I haven’t met her yet, she’s not due until October. Recently, I’ve been writing to her in a little journal. Mostly it’s consisted of simple humorous anecdotes or pithy future-father wisdom. This past week, however, I felt compelled to face a much more serious subject. I’ve decided to share that piece here.
This is going to be hard. I don’t want to talk about it, but I feel that I need to. I don’t expect you to fully understand this for some time, Ellianna, and that’s ok. We will come to it when the time is right.
There is horrifying evil in this world, Ellie. This past Wednesday, June 17th, 2015 we witnessed some of that evil. A young man walked into a church, sat down with our brothers and sisters during a prayer meeting, and after one hour with them he pulled out a gun and started shooting. Nine brothers and sisters died that morning.
They weren’t killed because of anything they had done. They weren’t killed because of anything they believed. They were killed because of the color of their skin. “I’m here to shoot black people.” That’s what he said. And this point I’m at a loss for words…The only thin I can think to write is an ancient prayer. It’s simple but rings deep and true.
Lord have mercy. Christ have mercy. Lord have mercy.
Ellianna, I pray that the Lord works to mold you into a powerful person of peace. May the waves of racism, violence, and injustice that crash around us leave you unshaken in that holy resolve to see the Kingdom of God alive and growing in the world.
Jesus tells us, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons and daughters of God.” I pray that you are blessed.
But remember, Ellianna, that being a peacemaker isn’t all about fighting against evil—it’s not even mostly about that. Infinitely more than anything else, it’s about learning to love. This is incredibly hard but deeply important. Because Jesus also tells us, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons and daughters of your Father who is in heaven.” Ellie, I can barely express my desire for you to be your Father’s daughter in this way. Nothing, as your imperfect, fellow struggler dad, could make me more proud.
Finally, Ellie, don’t be discouraged. I grieve for days like June 17th. My heart breaks. And I’m sure it will be broken again, as I’m sure yours will be as well, in its own and in its own time. So remember the words of Peter, “And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” He is faithful to accomplish His ultimate purposes—the redemption and restoration of all things. And He will accomplish this through His magnificent love. The kind of love that embraces us in when we are enemies. The kind of love that turns enemies into family.
“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”