June 13, 2016
لقد تغلبت على العالم
I first heard about the late night attack on a nightclub in Orlando at about 1pm Sunday, and struggled to get my mind around how some media and government people were calling it a “crime”. In my gut I knew that this was not a hate crime, but a very effective insurgent attack on the American mainland. The Sunday evening news had more of the same, and categorization as a law enforcement matter began to stress me out; to me it seemed dishonest of them to call what happened a crime. I went to bed late, and had fitful bouts of sleep amidst the turmoil in my soul.
The media message-shaping and anti-2nd Amendment rhetoric had slightly lessened by Monday morning when the word was out that the attack had been claimed and attributed to ISIS, but that began to present even more deeply disturbing thoughts and feelings in me as I watched the morning news reports. I have “skin in the game”, so yes, I do occasionally seek unbiased reporting on the state of our Nation. I am aware that most of the “news” is bad, but I am personally called to be a voter and be aware of the times. It’s part of my character.
The way I see it, this ad hoc terror group known as ISIS is a 4th or 5th generation of Al Qaeda and similar Islamic militancy. In 2004, I served in the United States Army and deployed to Iraq to help fight against the 1.5th or 2nd generation of AQ, known by many names but comprising terrorists of all flavors intent on damaging peace. Islamic Militants are the only people who have ever attacked me directly and personally, tried to kill me personally, and on Sunday morning, a 4th or 5th generation insurgent operative attacked and killed Americans on our own soil down in Orlando. This felt like an immediate and total failure, both to me and to the memory of my brothers and sisters who died in Iraq and Afghanistan fighting these people on their soil.
The anxiety and sense of catastrophic loss mounted as I prepared for work, and I sat very still on my couch this morning after getting dressed, thinking and praying.
We would never be mourning the loss of life today if the military had done our job in 2004. The gun control political spinsters would be ineffectual today if we had done our job back then. Nothing we’ve done in the last 20 years has made a difference, if foreign militia are killing us in our own cities and towns here in CONUS. God, where are YOU?
In fact, these thoughts are as irrational as they were real to me this morning. Sitting on my couch, I read Psalm 136, and then prayed for clarity and peace, that the fear and anguish would be defeated. Love endures forever. Finally, I headed to work after seriously considering a sick day to deal with the grief and the anger and sadness welling up into my temples and behind my eyelids. There are more distractions at my office than in my home, and I honestly knew I would be less of a distraction to the kids and wife if we kept our normal Monday schedule. I needed to get out of my head and occupy my brain with the mundane.
Before I left the house, I checked all of my firearms, and said goodbye to the wife very meaningfully, as if I may not be coming home. It has been over 10 years since I’ve done that, but I felt as if CONUS had now become a very low intensity conflict zone. Anyway, I got to the office, lowered our National colors out front to half-staff, and then tried to concentrate on work.
The anxiety and the feelings of fearful hopelessness crept slowly but surely higher in my mind, and I began to pray fervently at my desk and listen to worship music. Finally, having had enough, I went downstairs to a vacant conference room, closed the door and turned off the lights. In the semi-darkness, I shut off my cellphone and took out the battery before plugging my ears and screwing my eyes shut tightly.
Everything was laid out before God. The streams of media and music and talking and interaction and busyness were shut off in my brain, and I bared it all to Him. I cried out for help, and for peace, and for a clear stability that was free of fear and anxiety and horror and failure. Psalm 136 came back, and I prayed each verse aloud. There began to be a withdrawing of the barrage, as if a tide was receding. My prayer was,
God, I give You thanks, but I need a reassurance that I will not be going crazy or having an emotional breakdown or something seemingly out of my control. Please help me. Amen.
With that I stood up and walked back to my office, expecting an answer. About an hour later, I made my way to our large main conference room for a scheduled meeting with Michelle Seymour of Faith Comes By Hearing. A well-established non-profit based out of Albuquerque, Faith Comes By Hearing specializes in Bible translations and spreading the Gospel to the entire Earth. Michelle had been on the calendar for about a month, and our philanthropy committee was excited to hear her presentation.
Things were going along nicely, and we were learning that their organization had served faithfully for over 40 years to spread the message of God’s Word, that they had held the original Scorby recordings on cassette in their collection of resources at one time, etc. etc. Then Michelle began to share about God’s new plans for them, with new technology that will allow villages to have portable solar-powered devices which spread the spoken Word of God. How their recording teams put together Bible stories in native tongues, where voice actors recite and perform the stories in Scripture, and it is played back to others so they can immerse in the Word. How the music and sound effects in these recordings have a profound effect on people, and when a voice actor says,
“Son of David, have mercy on me!”
, indigenous peoples experience moves of the Holy Spirit. They actually have documented cases where people are being healed of illness and disease in remote countries as they listen to the Word of God and are touched.
Michelle told us about new tech advances where multi-lingual Bible translations can be delivered via satellite, and can be passed thru cell networks in the Third World now, almost like a Near Field Communication transfer. She talked about how their organization is using Bible apps to pass the Word in native tongues, all over the globe as technology breaks every barrier.
Then she started to share about their Military Bible Stick, which is a miniaturized audio device that U.S. Military chaplains have been using for several years now. It is a small black audio player with headphones, passed out for free to deployed soldiers and those who have redeployed, and which many troops have reported helps them sleep and calm down by listening to God’s Word. Evidently these recordings are helping servicemembers who are struggling with PTSD and other effects of their experiences.
As Michelle began to unpack the story of the Military Bible Sticks, my attention was riveted on her and I stopped taking notes. It was suddenly apparent that the Holy Spirit was speaking to me in a very clear way that this meeting had purpose beyond an “ask” for prayer or financial support from a non-profit partner. When she passed out brochures on the Military Bible Stick I stared blankly at the pages, barely able to absorb what I was seeing.
And then my world was wrecked by what happened next.
Michelle had picked up her smartphone to demonstrate their Bible.Is app which has multi-lingual audio capability, and she shared a recent anecdote about a flight to Detroit where she was showing the app to a seat mate. He was an Iraqi immigrant, and she pulled up the Bible in Arabic for him. His own dialectic Arabic, which was specific to Iraq.
When she pressed play and the audio of an Arab guy speaking began to fill the conference room, I became physically, emotionally, and spiritually overwhelmed. Utterly. Completely.
The Words of Life began to swirl around me in Arabic, and the hyper-charged current of God’s Presence began to pound my heart with Peace, and Security and Power. I started crying uncontrollably.
You see, I have heard much spoken Iraqi Arabic. I have heard military commands, and curses, and calls to prayer from minarets. I have heard hatred and anger and ridicule in Arabic, but I have never heard God’s Word in Arabic. Yet here I was, in the Main Conference Room at my law firm, the day after yet another terrorist attack on American soil, hearing the proceeding Word of God in Iraqi Arabic.
In those moments as the recording played, it was as if the God of Creation was saying to me,
“I was in Orlando last weekend, and I have overcome the World. You don’t have to worry. My Will is established, and I hear your prayers and heal your pain. Those who morn will be comforted. Those who need love will be loved. Peace will be a river.”
With very little composure, I shared with Michelle and the other attendees what had just happened, and at that point the whole room became an emotional mess. Today’s meeting was a divine appointment by the Overcomer of the World. We eventually recovered, and as we concluded our meeting I led everyone in expressing our thankfulness for God’s answers to our prayers.
Answers that can often have been scheduled over a month before we ever prayed.