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Full Circle

arI ran the Race for the Cure again last month. That marked the anniversary of my first blog! And, I have to admit, many of the same thoughts that I was kicking around last year at this time are fresh in my thoughts again. In October 2016, Charlotte was reeling from the race riots that ravaged our city's Uptown. As I ran the Race for the Cure last year, I was stricken with the juxtaposition of thousands of people in a sea of pink coming together for the cause of breast cancer awareness. But, I was running past boarded-up windows, vandalized buildings, and demolished signs representing divisions among people of different colors and backgrounds. I asked myself then how you could see the worst of humanity at the same time you see some of the best of it.

Over this last month, I’ve seen the same dichotomy. The Race for the Cure is always a beautiful reminder of selfless compassion. And, it was my 16th year participating! Despite my best efforts to hold it together, tears again streamed down my face as I ran past bald survivors in their hot pink shirts and young kids proudly wearing their “in memory of mom” signs. Inspiring. Yet, that same week, I was heartbroken as I watched the news feeds from Las Vegas. Just as Charlotte was hurting from the race riots last year, that city was reeling from their own horrific tragedy. Only, the loss of life and the devastation to those injured was on a grander scale. Then, just a few weeks later, I again watched in horror the news from Texas as a gunman entered a church of worshippers on a Sunday morning and opened fire. Evil is still evil. Every year, it just seems worse. Ironically, the pastor at our church has been doing a series on spiritual warfare. The week after the Las Vegas incident, he reminded me that the massacre of 50+ people and the injury of 500 more was not the shooter’s idea. The notion to enter a church of worshippers and start shooting was not that gunman’s idea either. The mass destruction of the vandals in Charlotte was not of their own initiative. What about the horrific natural disasters that have been in the news in the last weeks and months? Hurricane after hurricane has slammed our neighbors and friends in the Caribbean. Did a person cause those? Nope. Human rights violations, child trafficking, and guerilla warfare are happening all over the world, and many of these stories don’t even make the news anymore. Can we blame any one person for these atrocities? My friend committed suicide six weeks ago. Who put that idea in his head? It wasn't in his character, and he was the last person I would've expected to take his own life. But, he did it.

Broken. This world is so very broken. The sermon series was a reminder that our struggles are not against flesh and blood, but against a far more dark force.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6:12)

Furthermore, I was reintroduced to our true foes. Satan, a being created by God but who wanted to be equal with God, was cast out of God’s presence and is wreaking havoc on this world.

And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. (Revelation 12:9)

And, through his shrewdness He will cause deceit to succeed by his influence . . . (Daniel 8:25a)

Here is the irony. We are fascinated with the darkness. We just finished the Halloween season. And, as I’ve written on my FB page (carmenteagueauthor), I love the season as much as anyone else! I dress up right along with our kids. I celebrate with big pumpkin inflatables in my yard. Of course, I also have the scary ones—spiders, witches and ghosts, oh my! Even our blockbuster movies of recent months highlight our fascination with evil: It, Happy Death Day, Ouija: Origin of Evil. My kids have not seen any of these movies (thank goodness) but they have loved the Netflix series, Stranger Things. The 2nd season was released just a few days before Halloween. It is all about an evil world under our world, known as “the upside-down.” They could not get enough of it and binge watched the whole season in 2 days! And, who could discount the 40-year fascination with Star Wars and the dark side? (Yes, I too am counting down until the release of The Last Jedi on December 15th!)

Here’s my theory. I think the concept of the dark side is appealing because we know it’s so real. But, we fail to make the connection that the tragedy and evil in our world are a direct consequence of the powers and principalities of darkness at play. We know, deep in our souls, that evil is real. We just need to be reminded that evil is defeated. And, we need to claim that victory. We don’t need a light saber to do that. We need a relationship with the God of the Universe.

For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son. (Colossians 1:13)

We are loved. We are chosen. We will not be overcome with evil. But, we can overcome evil with good. (see Romans 12:21)

For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)

Nowhere in the narrative of Scripture does it say we will not be exposed to evil. It’s all around us and the “dark side” has control of our present world. If you don’t believe me, just spend 5 minutes listening to the news! We just need to fall into the arms of our Father who loves us.

In that refuge, we will overcome.

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