Two months ago we discovered we had to move, again. Three homes in three years since we moved back from England. Have you ever wanted to hit the pause button of life?
But our family has grown accustomed to such change. We took some time, moved our belongings, and started somewhere new.
But life doesn’t pause. It keeps churning.
The last couple of weeks have churned with heartbreaking news: of losing someone dear, and phone calls from near misses — friends with new leases on life. Indeed, it’s been that kind of a year for my wife’s family, as loss has followed loss.
I can’t process death. And I can’t explain how hurt finds us when we least expect it. The words of C.S. Lewis come to mind:
“Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
I hear the megaphone. And I see it ringing in the lives of friends and family.
And as the shouts of God echo, I find myself looking around to the things he’s given to me, and holding them with thankful tears, and trembling hands.
And something rises up inside of me, and it feels like what life itself must feel like. A burning in my heart that pushes me towards the things I love, the people I love.
The burning feels like the fight that strikes our hearts when we gulp the air and scream life in those first moments outside of the womb.
With [clenched] fists and a wail we start this life; fighting for breath, fighting for the comfort of our mother’s breast. We grow up clinging to love. And we hold tight as it moves us, grows us, nurtures us.
This is the magic and wonder of love: it pulls us onward in this life, even as it grows within us.
What will you do for love? What would you do without it?
Will you fight for it? Will you fight to get it back?
The fight: it’s an instinct placed in us by God. We will climb mountains, swim oceans, and cross rivers to get at the love that pulls us along.
We fight to live.
We fight to love, and to keep loving.
We fight to remain together.
And we fight sadness and loneliness when we’re apart.
We learn through sport that winning propels us to work hard and push ourselves. But it’s the love of the teammate that doesn’t let us quit. And even if we lose, the same love pulls us closer together to our team.
It’s the beauty of the fight.
Because it’s not winning or losing that matters to us, really. It’s the fight along the way. It’s the struggle with our brothers and sisters. It’s holding each other in victory, and defeat.
It’s the fire in the young father, who buys his first house just as the market crashes and then loses his job and his health insurance, even as his first child arrives a month early.
His burning heart. His fearful heart. His desperate heart.
It’s in this desolate place the young father’s heart rises up — fist clenching and wailing on into another day. And he fights for his house, and his work. He fights for his wife and new daughter.
He fights with the burn in his heart, and love on his lips. And he beats on the heavy bag of impossibility when no one is watching, when no one is up, and he sweats out his fear until only love drips from his brow.
Fight for what you love.
It’s the burn in the young girl who can’t see the world anymore. She sees only the shadows of hate as she approaches the demon of suicide.
But then it comes to her in her valley of dry bones. The Fight. And it comes heaven strong.
A gathering of light steals her from the shadow-valley and sets her feet upon the beautiful heights.
And the King himself trains her, there in the high clouds of wonder. She struggles with the air — it’s too thin, and her body, too weak. But the King gives her a voice that only Glory can give.
And the fight is her song, and her story, and she gathers the melody of the stars, and sings her fire into the suicide-demon.
Her fire, a pure fire, burns up hell, saving the girls and boys caught in the same shadow. She goes to war, and fights where no one else will fight.
She fights, and loses. She fights, and wins. And she keeps fighting.
Fight for what you love.
It’s the far away glow deep inside the husband, who loses his wife, in sudden and fearful moments, that we see. It’s there, barely visible.
But we see it in his graceful words. We see it in the way he holds his daughters who’ve lost their hero-mother.
It is the far away burn of Love itself. And we see it sparkling in his tears. We hear it ringing in his prayers. We feel it in his presence.
And the love burns him in dark moments, hidden away from our view. And it grows stronger even though he feels weaker, and driven to his knees.
And there, dark and alone, burning, he beats into the shadow of uncertainty, only to find the weight of glory wrapping his fists into praying hands.
And heaven lifts him up and sets him on his feet and even the angels stare in wonder. A warrior rises, they say. And they celebrate with the Dance of Light.
Fight for what you love.
I can’t process death. But I can do the work of love, even as Love itself works on me.
And I’m reminded of Paul’s words about how God fought for me, for you. He laid everything on the line so that nothing would ever come between us again:
None of this stuff the world throws at us can faze us, because Jesus loves us.
I’m absolutely convinced that nothing — nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable — absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.
Let life and this world churn. Me? I will burn. With life. And I will fight for what I love.