Published on Aug 26th, 2015 by Pastor Ed Hlad | 0



Yesterday tragedy visited my neighborhood.  My neighbor, two doors down from us, killed his wife and tried to take his own life after holding police at bay for several hours.  It is an unsettling sight to see your neighborhood flooded with swat vehicles, heavily armed police officers, command centers, and helicopters.  I cannot tell you the heaviness you feel when those sights are all centered on a family you know.  As news slowly trickles out you do your best to sort through gossip and fact.  You pray much…especially for the children.


Art, Sue and the boys used to come to our church.  I spent several breakfast’s trying to get to know Art but he never really opened up.  He was very connected with another pastor and felt as if he should be going there.  His life had many struggles and at times, it seemed as if he was having victory over those struggles, but his sins continued to pull at him.  He was a living example of Proverbs 5:22b, “he is held fast in the chords of his sin”.  When I spent time with Art he shared bits and pieces of how he struggled to walk in victory but longed for the temporary relief his sins gave him.  His sins bound him and continued to tighten their control over Art until they pulled him down into such a deep pit he committed these acts of violence against his wife, his children, and himself.


Sue, to me, seemed just the opposite.  She was one of the kindest persons I have ever met. She was hard working, ready to volunteer, a great mother, and full of love.  She understood the work of Christ and found freedom in his saving grace.  When I would speak to her she was willing to face the struggles of life head on and with the strength God gave her she would be able to have joy in the midst of pain.  Her boys brought her great joy and happiness.


It might seem as if evil triumphed over good here.  That the sin that gripped the heart of Art at this time has the final say and it reaped what it always reaps…destruction.  Certainly the pain and chaos that this act has and will cause is real and devastating but it does not have the final say.  God always has and always will have the final say.  Sue, while tragically killed, has been set free to be with her Savior.  I am sure that her choice would have been to stay with her boys but God brought her home to be with himself.  He then promises to take care of her boys.  Where evil meant to bring destruction God has and will bring life and peace.  Jesus is the only hope of healing and protection for the boys.


What about Art?  Were his moments of victory in life a mirage?  Was his service to the Lord simply acts of works and not grace?  I am not the judge.  Jesus is and always will be.  Art’s sin is grievous, almost incomprehensible, and carries with it great judgment here on earth.  He has done great damage to many people.  His decisions to keep holding on to his sin and to keep turning back to that sin bound him and dragged him down.  Just like the Bible said it would.  What I find tragic in this is that I see some of the same tendencies in my life.  Sins that easily beset me.  Walking in such great victory and peace one day and then ensnared in sin the next.  I do not see my sin leading to the same destruction that Art caused.  I do understand though, that if left unrepented and unchallenged it can and will destroy.  John makes clear in I John that if I am unwilling to deal with my sin then my relationship with Christ needs to be questioned.  I cannot say where Art stands with Christ right now but I do know two things.  Both truths are places we often do not want to go but tragedies like this cause us to visit them.  The first truth is how ugly our sin is.  How utterly destructive it always is.  We may think that we have it under control but only Jesus can truly bring us victory.  The second truth is just how amazing God’s grace and mercy is.  Every once in a while we are touched by sin in such a way that the justice of God grips our hearts and causes us to cry out for his judgment.  It is then that we remember truth number one…our sin.  We long to know that God’s grace and mercy can cover even our worse sins.  God promises that it does.  That, at times, is difficult to comprehend or even accept.

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