Have you ever had a strange convergent of events come together, and in the midst of these events there seems to be a lesson to learn? I experienced this in September. On the surface the events seemed unrelated, but an underlying theme appeared to be coalescing.
One Friday morning, around 10 am, I was walking back to my duplex. I stopped and listened intently – was that a wailing or screaming noise that I heard? The sound quickly faded, so I thought, “Oh, somewhere kids are just playing or yelling at one another.” I walked on to my duplex not giving it a second thought.
The next Monday, I learned that there had been a murder of an older lady, just across the road from us. The murder happened on Thursday and the family found her on Friday and started to cry and wail. It gives you a very unusual feeling to think that someone was killed right next to where you reside or work. This semester I had walked towards that area a couple of times, but a feeling of uneasiness had kept me from going further and walking down the road.
Though murders rarely occur in Yekepa (actually, the first one in years), it is not uncommon for this to happen in Liberia. The students told me there is usually three reasons for murder: a hate crime, a fight over property, or a victim’s blood or body parts are wanted for an occult ritual. I found out that the brother-in-law, who was a former solider with mental problems, had killed her. He didn’t like her and he wanted his dead brother’s property.
That Wednesday in our small group’s prayer time, the opening line of a student’s prayer stood out to me.
“Dear God, I am glad to be among the living.”
Hmmm, I thought did he pray this because of the murder? I began to notice over the next two weeks that this is a common prayer of many Liberians. I heard:
“Thank you God for letting me be alive this morning.”
“God, thank you for the opportunity to live.”
“I am thankful for the opportunity of life today.”
It struck me that most of us, unless we have had a serious illness or a near death experience, seldom thank God that we are alive. After 14 years of civil war, murders that are seldom or are poorly investigated, and the harsh realities of day-to-day living, Liberians understand that your life can quickly be snatched away and you need to be thankful for each day.
During this same time frame, I also celebrated the life of a good friend, Ruth Manus, who had died from cancer a year ago. Her daughter sent out an e-invitation to her friends to write an e-mail toasting her mother’s life. The e-mails were most touching, and I loved reading what everyone wrote.
One of her friends posted the picture that you see below. It is such a perfect picture because it captures how Ruth loved to live life even during the many painful moments of her cancer. She lived it to the fullest bathed in God’s grace.
As I started thinking about these three events – a murder, a prayer, and a life – I asked God what He was trying to teach me. Actually it is pretty simple – live life and be thankful for each day! As I said in a previous blog it has been a particularly stressful semester and sometimes I get so caught up in the frustrations that I forget to thank God for the days He has given me. I forget to live life to its fullest and look for the little moments of joy that God brings into my life daily.
Though I do not know the lady that died, I am sorrowful that she had to die in such a brutal manner. I can’t help but wonder what she would whisper to us from the grave about the importance of “fully” living each day in this fallen world.
What is a Think Through? it is an idiom that conveys the meaning of carefully considering possibilities and outcomes of a situation
Today’s Think Through:
How do you live life to its fullest? Why are you thankful to be alive today?