Punctures, Apples, and Puppy Dog Paws

Writing a blog post has been on my “list” for over a week now. But the last two weeks haven’t exactly been “normal.” On New Year’s day, I got blasted in the face by a volleyball propelled  from a football kick. My teammate sarcastically noted that with that kind of luck, 2014 was sure to be detrimental to my health. While attempting to get the sand and my mangled contact out of my eye, I laughed. I don’t believe in luck. Or karma. Or ridiculous predictions about entire years based on getting hit in the face with a volleyball. If you play enough, it happens. No big deal.

The very next day, after a great day of riding motorcycles and working on a friend’s boat, I had my first puncture (here, like in the U.K., they aren’t “flat tires,” they are “punctures”), and on the rear tire of my bike. Fortunately, I was near my friends’ house, and he and his dad were able to help me patch the tire. But not without some difficulty, caused at least partially by the fact that it was completely dark out by time we got home and got the tire off the bike.  Today, the patch blew, and I was greeted by a flat tire at 6:30 a.m. as I prepared to leave for school.

Most significantly, on only the third day of term two at school, one of the grade 11 students was struck and killed by a truck while on his way to Wednesday night football. I did not know Dawson personally, but many of my students did. Watching them grieve and remember him was heartbreaking.

But 2014 has not been all darkness. Rather, in the dark, light shines most brilliantly.

Perhaps, Laura, one of the primary teachers, explains best the unity seen at HOPAC over the last week:

 At the moment, HOPAC is full of broken and grieving students who have lost a friend and classmate in terrible circumstances.  But HOPAC is also full of students who have heard from all of their teachers and from all of the support staff that because of Dawson’s faith in Jesus, because of his acceptance of Christ’s sacrifice, there is hope.  Their friend and classmate is in Heaven, transformed into the likeness of Christ, living in His glory for all of eternity.(Read her full post here–its well worth reading.)

Students grieved together last week. And eventually, I am confident that they will rejoice together. Maybe not this week. Maybe not even this month or this year. But someday, they will rejoice together.

But seeing the HOPAC students join together was not the only blessing of the last two weeks. Getting to hang out with my new friend Devin (and his incredible parents), staying with the Larmey kids and having crazy cake adventures, eating delicious apples, playing with my ever-growing puppy, relaxing on the beach, going scuba diving, deepening relationships with several of my fellow teachers (and mentors) here…. it has been a wonderful two weeks to start 2014.

Over and over I have reflected on Psalm 19, where it says that the “heavens declare the glory of God.” I love the skies. The breathtaking colors of sunrises and sunsets. The sparkling stars. The vast blue space. But what I keep thinking is that for us to see the glory of God reflected in His creation, we have to look. When darkness surrounds. When trials press in. Look up. Know that the God who breathed the stars into existence, the God who paints the sunrise, He cares passionately for each human heart. He knows the number of hairs on each head. And He is always in control. And always good. Maybe the valley of the shadow of death is pressing in on all sides, but the Creator-Shepherd is leading His sheep.

2014, rather than being a year defined by being smashed in the face by a volleyball, is a year defined by one word: Life.

Because Christ came that we might have life, and have it abundantly (John 10:10).

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