We knew when you signed up for this race that there would be adventure. And adventure, by definition has danger included within it; otherwise it wouldn’t be adventure. In fact, the reason many of us, as parents struggled to send you all the way around the world, was specifically because of the danger. We knew that if something terrible happened we could not be there to help pick up the pieces, or comfort you. If it were up to us, and our protective natures, we would put you in a bubble so that nothing bad could ever happen to you. We have lived long enough to know that sometimes bad things happen in life, many of us have experienced that first hand, and we would never wish it upon our enemies, much less our children. So we try to hold on to you, and you pull away. It is the dance which has been danced between parents and children from the beginning. Now one of our worst fears has been realized and even if it didn’t happen directly to one of our own children, all racers now feel like our children. All racers have our prayers. All racers have become part of our family. We watch from our side of the computer with great joy at the adventure you are all having. We watch from our side of the computer as the tears surface when things get hard. Currently we watch as if it is a movie we cannot turn away from… suspense film that includes heart pumping adrenaline, biting of nails, and that fear that will not let us loose. The thing we feared has come to pass and it is not a movie. The question is where to go from here…in our minds and in our hearts.
The way I see it is that Team Aliza has experienced physically what happens spiritually to all of us. Our enemy hovers around us, waiting for his opportunity. He waits until cover of darkness and sneaks into our lives trying to steal our joy, our belief, our confidence, our hope, our love. He tells us to be quiet while he does it. He wants us isolated, confused, and hidden. It is insidious. It is evil and it is scary. There are numerous traumatic scenarios the enemy uses, but the outcome is the same in each of them. Fear rises. Hope diminishes. The circumstances seem big. God seems small. His tactic is always the same, has been for generations upon generations. It is this…get your eyes off of God and onto the fear. If he can do this one thing, he can stop growth, he can stop hope. He can stop God… which is his goal. He knows that to stop God from moving in our hearts he must get us to submit to his plan. Fear is his tool. We will withdraw if the fear is great enough. We will withhold God’s love from those around us because we are no longer sure we can express it.
What I love about this story is that it does not end with us cowering in the corner while the enemy wreaks havoc. These Team Aliza girls did not stand by and watch their enemy steal. They were bold. They had their heads about them and refused to allow him to take. I dare say they surprised him with the intensity of their reaction. He insisted on quiet, as the enemy always does. They met him with screams, and boldness. He tried to steal, and they refused him. They grabbed him and ripped his shirt and sent him running for cover. Instead of allowing fear to rule in the moment, they took back what was theirs and sent him on his way. How did they do this you ask? Why didn’t they stay quiet, or cower in the corner? Their hope is bigger than their fear. They believed in their team, and in their God. A boldness to fight rose up within them and they followed it. What a lesson they have taught us all about facing trials and attacks of the enemy.
What if we all responded to attacks intended to take from us in this way? Refusal to allow the enemy a place in our lives. Standing firm in what we know to be true…that we are loved, and we are protected…even in the midst of our worst fears being realized. What if we could rise above and share his love even in the midst? What a testimony. How powerful. These girls have shown us this. Was it easy? Nope. I cannot imagine how scary. Will moving on from here be simple? Probably not. The complexities of trauma will take some time. But the boldness that rose up in the moment is still in there now that the adrenaline has faded. It is that which will see them through. The boldness of the Spirit, who led them then, will lead them now. I am confident of this.
I was woken in the wee hours this morning with a song on my heart for racers and parents around the world. It is one of my favorites. I always love to sing scripture because God’s words do not come back void. They lift the heart, and in this case the head. I picture it this way, Jesus standing with his hand under my chin. My eyes are downcast and there is turmoil all around. He lifts my head and his eyes find mine. In that moment, all else fades away. The fear. The trauma. The pain. All of it becomes small as I look into the eyes that engulf me in love. If we can all do this…lift our heads…we will see him. When we see him, we will know. He is with us. He is with our kids. He is working, even now. The enemy will not win this fight, if we can just lift our heads.