Where Religion Meets the Road

Psalm 27:8 – My heart says of you, “Seek His face!”  Your face, LORD, I will seek. I am absolutely reeling.

It started on Monday, with the heart-wrenching news of the death of an infant.  A baby I’d prayed over for nine months.  His parents had one blessed hour with him before angels ushered him into glory.  And while the family and I both know he is cradled in the arms of Christ, we are broken.

It continued on Wednesday as I helplessly watched a love one struggle against a cruel illness, and it culminated on Friday as I, along with America, sat in stunned silence as every parent’s worst nightmare played out on a national stage: Nearly 30 Dead, screamed the headlines, 20 Children.

I am unsuccessfully attempting to wrap my mind around the fact that there are twenty mothers who sent their young children to school on Friday, December 14th that did not get to take them home.  Twenty sets of parents whose lives were turned upside down and inside out in a single moment.  Nearly 30 lives cut short by an unspeakable act of evil.  One things occurs to me as I try to find some solace and comfort:

This is where religion meets the road.

In the times of our deepest grief, we do not need pithy sayings or empty words.  We don’t want to hear how God will cause all things to work together for the good of those who love Him.  We don’t want to hear that God won’t let us go through anything we can’t handle, because who in their right mind could handle this?

We don’t need religion.  We need to know that Jesus is real.

We desperately need to believe that God is who He says He is.  We need to know that the Bible’s message of hope for all mankind is the inspired, authoritative Word of God, and not just a collection of historical stories woven through with good advice.  We need Christ to be real to us, not just in theory, but right here, right now.

Psalm 34:18 – The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

I find comfort in knowing that, over 2000 years ago, a baby was born.  He was of the line of David, as foretold in 2 Samuel 7:12-13.  He was born in Bethlehem, just as the prophet Micah declared He would be.  He was born of a virgin, exactly the way the prophet Isaiah predicted.  He fled to Egypt with His parents, as anticipated by Hosea 11:1.  He ministered in Galilee and Nazareth, and His ministry included healing, again predicted hundreds of years earlier by Isaiah (Isaiah 9:1-2; 35:5-6).  He was rejected by the religious leaders (Psalm 118:22) and betrayed for thirty pieces of silver (Zechariah 11:12), again foretold by the prophet.

Eight prophecies that Jesus had to fulfill in order to be the Jewish Messiah.  The odds that Christ would simultaneously fulfill eight prophecies?  1 in 1,000,000,000,000,000.  In other words, He had a one in one quintillion shot at fulfilling even eight prophecies.

Friend, He fulfilled over three-hundred.  Not only that, but He fulfilled them so perfectly that through the centuries, skeptics have argued that the Bible is too accurate; it must be fake.

It’s not fake.

The ancient Hebrew Scriptures were translated in Greek no later than 270 B.C., hundreds of years before the feet of Christ touched earthen soil.  Jesus lived.  Jesus gave hope to the hopeless, sight to the blind, and salvation to the sinner.  He died, He rose again, and He lives.

When the world makes no sense and there is no comfort to be found, take comfort in this: For every prophecy concerning the first coming of Jesus, there are eight concerning His second.

The night before Jesus went to the cross, His primary concern was comforting His disciples and encouraging them with the hope of His return.  While I may be reeling at the week’s events, my hope is reignited when I remember that Jesus is who He says He is, and He does what He says He will do.

John 14:1-3 – “Do not let your hearts be troubled.  Trust in God, trust also in me.  In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you.  I am going there to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”

Psalm 85:9 – Surely His salvation is near those who fear Him, that His glory may dwell in our land.

Psalm 147:3 – He heals the brokenhearted, binding up their wounds.

Heavenly Father, We are broken over this broken world.  Draw near to us Father, and draw near to those affected by the horrific events in Newtown, Connecticut.  Bring down Your Presence, and comfort them with Your love.  Move in the hearts of those who can help.  Spur us to be Your hands and feet, and for those of us far away, remind us to lift the families up before the throne of Grace in our prayers.  Above all else, God, be more than just a religion to us.  Heavenly Father, be real.  Be real to us in our hour of need and always.  How we love You.  How we praise Your Holy Name.  It is in the beautiful, majestic Name above all names that we pray; the Name of Jesus.  Amen.

About the Author: Rebecca Ashbrook Carrell is a veteran radio personality in Dallas/Fort Worth.  She spent nearly 15 years in country radio on 99.5 the Wolf and 96.3 KSCS, and left in 2011 to follow Jesus into Women's Ministry.  She now can be heard on-air at 90.9 KCBI, and region-wide as a speaker, author, and teacher.  Reach Rebecca at http://www.LoveServeShine.com and rebeccacarrell@gmail.com.