17 February 2008

We call it warfare

I heard a voice that cried
Balder the beautiful
is dead, is dead

The Word makes it clear that there is a time to rejoice, and a time to mourn. It also says that those who mourn are blessed - because they will be comforted. The last month and more has been a time of great mourning for me for a good and precious man, a kind of Balder in his own right, has taken a well-aimed bullet from the hater of our souls. In some ways there is so much to say, too much to say for all the hurt, all the sadness, all the pain. And in another way there is nothing at all to say - nothing really seems meet to the moment.

Without taking a single ounce from the tragedy of the fall, I am powerfully reminded of the words I've spoken many times to many men - this is a broken world and we are at war. If there were no casualties, it would put the lie to my own passionate assertion. Brave warriors can be struck down one step from the gate, a single arrow can unmake even the mightiest soldier. Odin's lesser known son, Balder, was beloved among the Aesir and Vanir. He and his wife, Nanna, inspired all who knew them with their grace and kindness and this special pair was held up and celebrated by heroes of much more renown. Thor, Sif, Tyr, Hermod, all of them brought gifts to Balder; they sought, and gained, oaths from everything upon and beneath the earth that nothing should harm their beloved Balder. But Loki the Hater was able to orchestrate the death of Balder with a sprig of mistletoe - a normally harmless plant with no root or strength. At his death, all of Asgard mourned bitterly that all their work to protect and lift up their beloved Balder had been undone by what no-one had deemed a threat. Over his body they sang bitter songs, "Balder the beautiful is dead, is dead."

Still, for all the sorrow, all the mourning, I know that we serve a God of resurrection and restoration. We live under the bright and constant star of a risen Jesus and I pray that I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living - the 'against all odds' rebirth of this man and his family. Of course some things change permanently - Our Lord's risen body still bears the scars of our sins - but no man, no situation, is ever beyond the power of God to redeem and make whole, even if that whole is a different shape than the original design.

With that in mind, I know that I must guard my own heart against growing hard, against taking pain-driven words too personally, against feeling any safety beyond a sober "there but for the grace of God go I."

Dear Lord, guide my friend back to you door and do not let the work of the enemy stand.



Anonymous said...

Chris, I'm choking back tears as I type. I haven't read your blog in quite some time, not out of disinterest, but because of life situations which have prevented it. This post hit me straight in the heart in a good and unexpected way. Thank you for praying for "Balder" and his family, despite the unimaginable pain you've been caused. Because I'm a contributor to that pain (albeit unintentional, but pain nonetheless. I pray you can forgive me one day), I don't really feel I even have a right to be commenting on your blog. But I feel your loving kindness in this entry needs to be recognized. So, in honor of your beautiful post, I will simply sign my name,

Silverback said...

Dearest, precious Nanna. I'm so very, very glad to hear from you.

I really appreciate your comments but truly any pain of my own is incidental and beside the point. In the story, Nanna is so overcome with grief that she throws herself on her husband's pyre, doubling the grief of the Aesir...I've been far more concerned with your own pain and praying that God will walk you four through all of this. Your appearance here gives me great hope.

Also, let me be as clear as I can be - for my part there is exactly zero to forgive. Please consider at least that prayer answered and settled. I made a commitment to you and your family that does not rest on any foundation but God's grace. A few ruffled feathers can't stand against that.

Still, I'll continue to respect your privacy and your anonymity as long as you want it that way...although I dare say your post has pretty effectively 'outed' you.

PS: I would be much obliged if you would tell Forsete happy birthday for me, Re and Odin (now that's an interesting sentence, a pseudonym and a real name - both Norse gods. How often does that happen?)

Anonymous said...

My dear brother, I love you and I thank you. And I understand & feel Nanna's overwhelming grief. I was saying yesterday that sometimes I hurt so much that I wonder if one can truly die of a broken heart, because sometimes the pain is so great, I think my poor heart may just give up beating.
I sign in anonymously, first because, as I said before, I didn't feel I really had a right to be commenting after all that's happened, but also because there may be some in this blogosphere who don't know what's gone on & what's happened with whom, and I didn't want to air my husband's 'dirty laundry' to those who may not know. In spite of everything, I still want to be my husband's 'crown' by practicing some form of nobility, however futile. :)
I pray you and yours are well. Please give my love to Re and Odin (and yes, that is quite the coincidence on the names!). Please tell Re we said Happy (Belated) Birthday. I miss her terribly and I think of her daily, as well as the rest of you.
God be with you, and may He continue to also heal your grieving heart.
"Nanna" (that name's growing on me, by the way...)

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