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.