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A Summer to remember

Psalm 77:11-12: “I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds” (NIV).

If Memorial Day marks the beginning of summer and Labor Day the end, then we’re about two-thirds of the way through the season of sun and fun. So maybe I’m not jumping the gun all that much by already wondering what we’ll remember about the summer of 2012 in the years ahead.

Close to home we’ll remember graduations, weddings, babies born and loved ones lost.

From the larger arena of current events, will we remember that another episode of the ongoing loss of American innocence played out at Penn State University? Will we remember how two local politicians connived to subvert the electoral process? Will we remember record-breaking high temperatures and devastating drought conditions? Or is James Holmes’ rampage in Aurora, Colorado this year’s defining moment?

A report by the Associated Press quoted Anita Busch, a relative of one of the victims of the shootings, saying, “I hope this evil act, that this evil man doesn’t shake people’s faith in God.” Me, too. But that’s easier for me to say than for Anita Busch.

Still, I am grateful to have seen a ray of hope emerge from this tragedy. Most of the comments posted online that I read, as the story was developing, involved bypassing due process and speedily implementing any of several suggestions for how to most severely maim, mutilate, and execute James Holmes. Easily in second place were debates about gun laws.

It’s understandable that extreme circumstances would provoke extreme responses, which is why Anita Busch’s perspective stands out. She is certainly more entitled to bitter resentment and a thirst for vengeance than the millions of us who are merely gawking bystanders, but she has chosen to look for answers from God’s perspective, rather than her own. She makes me want to know more about what’s in her head, in her experience, and in her heart that is enabling her to hold firm in her faith.

We can all come up with countless reasons why we might give up on God. Anita Busch reminds me that God is bigger than every one of them. For anyone flailing for something firm to hold onto in the chaos of the event and its aftermath, Anita Busch offers an invitation to grab hold of God, “For who is God besides the LORD? And who is the Rock except our God?” (Psalm 18:31). And she does it in a time of her own grieving, not looking to her own interests, but to the interests of others (Philippians 2:4). Whenever someone’s desire for the hope and wholeness of others is placed above his or her own safety or comfort, it is an act of grace, straight from God.

What will I remember about the summer of 2012? How Anita Busch reminded me that absolutely nothing can separate us from the love of God (Romans 8).

Pastor Robert Eckert
Courtland-Oakfield United Methodist Church
10295 Myers Lake Ave., Rockford

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