Lessons in Grace

Picture 1This photo that Fans of David shared made me smile. It also made me wary of those fans who may be troubled by the sheer religiosity of this image, a David on his mission, a David “trying to be a lot like Jesus,” which is exactly the point of this feet-washing meeting.

But how many of us can distinguish between mere religiosity and simple grace?

I’m thinking about this of late since I was inspired by the story of Antoinette Tuff, a school clerk in Atlanta, who single-handedly prevented another Sandy Hook mass shooting school tragedy earlier this week, as she talked down the perpetrator and got him to surrender his ammo. Just listen to the 911 call and judge for yourself.

It’s a beautiful story.  And in her many interviews, Ms. Tuff constantly gave credit to God.  “It’s only through his grace and mercy,” she said about the situation: about how she engaged the shooter, Michael Hill, calling him “sweetie” and “baby,” and telling him that she loved him, that she understands him because she’s been through her own personal tragedies.

How many of us could react in a similar fashion? More than that: how many would draw on love and grace and faith and put it into action through this empathetic display of human touch and compassion?

As James Wellman notes on the Patheos blog, Ms. Tuff “was loving this man back into being; treating him not as an object to be manipulated, but as a soul to be healed and saved.”

He also said this, which I think is critical:

Why did Michael listen to her? One can imagine that he has heard every single type of psychological language used on him to deal with his mental illness. He knew the script by heart. But with Antoinette this again was no script, it was the language of love in action. Antoinette recalled the pain of her own life—her severely disabled son, her recent divorce, her despair and attempted suicide. She too had seen the dark side of life. And yet, in the midst of it her pastor had taught her, to “anchor” in the Lord.

This idea is a spiritual one—it appeals to a type of consciousness in which one focuses on a source of power and love, “the Lord,” who opens up space in a person, both psychological and spiritual, so that grace, or unconditional favor, can flow through… Antoinette has experienced a radical sense of grace that gives her space to survive tragedy, and this in turn makes her able to speak and love Michael with a deep and radical sort of empathy. She loves this lost soul because her soul has been loved.

antoinette-tuff-700This is such a poignant argument that many, especially those who don’t come from a faith background, tend to dismiss and even scoff at (if you can believe the uncharitable comments online that are quick to pull Tuff’s “hero” card because she dared give credit to a higher power instead of to herself).

While different journalists and pundits are quick to use Tuff as an example, even a “textbook” case on how to talk down a madman bent on mass murder, they all keep missing the point: This is not behavior that can be “trained,” you either have the capacity to love and empathize, or you don’t.  And sometimes, we have to reach beyond ourselves to find that radical care, that radical love.

The picture of David washing an elderly man’s feet and the story of Antoinette Tuff are lessons in grace.  I know I’m not anywhere close as these genuine souls are to letting in divine grace into my life, but their powerful examples remind me of what is still possible if I would only open my heart and let the soul work begin.

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Posted on August 24, 2013, in current events. Bookmark the permalink. 77 Comments.

  1. Bravo! Love this article. Very well said. The world now days really need to see more of this kind of bravery in people and the kindness and love that people show. BRAVO!!!!!!!

  2. What a beautiful blog written by a person (HG) with a beautiful and honest soul. Thank you. I didn’t realize how much i had longed to read something uplifting like this which also highlighted David’s spirituality at the same time. Too often i am saddened when i read those who refer to David’s spiritual choice to serve a mission as his “mission thing” as if it is something less than good or meaningless somehow. I had not read the story of Antoinette Tuff but am grateful you highlighted it here because this is one of those true stories that uplift in a time of scary news and heartbreaking killings. Her grace and David’s grace are things of beauty and what stand out in a self-serving and violent world. I am not a religious person nor do i attend church regularly but i do have a spiritual side and you touched it. It reminds me that I too need to open my heart and “let the soul work begin”. Thank you again.

  3. Fabulous post Hg. I to believe that some people just have natural grace and they look for a higher power to draw from. I also believe that you do not need organize religion to have grace.

    • True, but obviously people within organized religion can also be spiritual. Not everyone is hypocritical. Unfortunately there are plenty of people within organized religion that are hypocrites and that has obviously turned you off. Please don’t judge everyone that way. Faith in God helps many people every day.

      • I really don’t believe I was judging, I was just stating what I felt was that a person can have grace without organize religion, I wasn’t saying that a person that believes in organize religion cannot have grace. I have God with me 24/7 and I draw strength and comfort from Him/Her/Spirit everyday, but I found that strength without organized religion, others feel the need to obey a church to get that feeling, that’s up to them.

      • Thanks for clearing that up. Yes, a person can be spiritual inside and outside organized religion.

  4. AMEN, HG! Beautiful, exquisite, meaningful words!!!

  5. Thanks, HG, for this post. For me this is your best one yet. I have thought long and hard how I could say something about David’s spirituality that would say something like you have so eloquently stated here. He kept saying that if we listened to the songs in BEGIN we would know why he went on his mission. To me that was crystal clear but I saw comments that some fans still didn’t get it. The songs are all about how life can knock you down but there is hope. For David and many that hope comes from faith in God. On his mission he is sharing his faith in God with others. That to me is the essense of it even though I differ in the Book of Mormon part of his theology. To me a spiritual person is one that loves their neighbor as themselves, and practices what they preach. David has seemed to be one that tries to do that instead of being an “in your face” type of person who is preachy but doesn’t live it.

  6. I adore everything that this post chooses to be ❤

  7. The story of Antoinette Tuff is very inspiring. We need more stories like that one. Kind of very off topic but I happened to be watching the today show when one direction was on yesterday. Why is it that I think those 1D guys are just adorable and can understand why the young girls like them but just continue to not get the popularity of the “Biebs” at all. lol.

  8. As a humanist, I believe that David washing leper’s feet in India or potentially giving up a career to help others, or a heroic woman finding the courage to engage a potential shooter, or all of the people who sacrifice for others on a daily basis, illustrate the capacity we humans have to do wonderful things in the world, whether we are inspired by belief in a supernatural being, or inspired by the desire to make our brief span of life the best it can be for all people. But those who give the credit to an omnipotent God for good things, can’t possibly ponder too long on the incredible suffering he supposedly allows–15 million children starving to death yearly, the mental illness of Sandy Hook-type shooters, tsunamis that kill hundreds of thousands of people (2004), floods that kill millions (1936).

    For many of us, it’s as Mother Theresa said not long after going to India to serve the poor, “Jesus has a very special love for you. As for me, the silence and the emptiness is so great that I look and do not see, listen and do not hear.” She served for the rest of her life, not believing, and feeling herself to be a hypocrite. I personally find peace in not trying to believe things that don’t make sense. Carl Sagan said, “As for me, it’s far better to see the world the way it really exists, rather than persist in delusion, no matter how comforting or reassuring that may seem.”
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    ” Faith is believing what you know ain’t so. ” – Mark Twain

    • But why does this have to be mutually exclusive? Why can’t we believe in a higher power when miraculous things happen and believe in the same power when unspeakable evil also happens? That’s the Job chapter 37 dilemma. Asking God “Why?” when all S/he has in response is: “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth and the morning stars sang out for joy?”

      It’s bigger than us, it’s beyond comprehension, but you know, “Hallelujah!” The end.

      • The Greek philosopher Epicurus posited “the Epicurean paradox” which says: “Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?”

        The story of Job shows us a petty, horrible version of God. As I recall, on a dare from Satan, God tortures Job, to prove that one man will still love him, no matter what. Even after God heals Job and restores his worldly goods and gives him more children, I always wondered, what about the original children whom God murdered as part of his game with Satan? Aren’t they people, too?

        If we believe because it’s our only theory for why the earth exists, as your quote suggests, I think it explains nothing. If science can’t yet explain where the universe came from, “God did it” doesn’t help. Who created God? Lawrence Krauss’ “A Universe From Nothing” is an interesting theory, though hard for non-physicists to understand.

      • I think it explains nothing.

        But that’s the point. It explains nothing. God is nothing and everything.

        Of course, other cultural cosmologies are more complicated than the Western view. Evil is its own deity and not understood as the same entity as Good (of course, we’ve got the Satan part in this duality but Satan is not worshipped in the same way).

        Shiva in Hindi cosmology is BOTH creator and destroyer. In the natural, material world the Black Hole swallows the Star, and then from the same source, a star is born from the chaos.

        We could go around and around in circles trying to understand these mysteries.

        Some folks take the simple route and say “The Lord provides.”

        I like the story of Job because it keeps me humble. None of us is “favored,” but when we rise to the challenge (whatever that might be), it’s then that we may know God, in whatever way that might be knowable – even when we accept that it is unknowable.

        That’s a form of grace, I think. It’s why Antoinette Tuff said she was just a vessel for God to do the work.

      • It’s exactly the idea that a god chooses whom to favor and whom to torture, that made me so relieved to finally realize that there is no such being. The unfairness of life is something that’s hard, but I can accept it so much more easily now that I no longer think that someone is doing it on purpose, someone that people adore.

        What if your human father blinded your sister, starved your brother, and rotted off your mother’s feet with leprosy? What if he did it in order to teach you to care for them, or other lessons, or any of the usual theistic explanations for God allowing evil? Wouldn’t we realize that our father was a monster, and needed to go to jail? We just can’t seem to see the problem when it’s God doing the same. Don’t our modern civilized parents know better than the scriptural God, that we teach our children best through love, and not harsh punishment and terror?

        I used to be in such awe of some of the really outstanding spiritual people in my church–now I think that they’re really intelligent people with good intuition and imagination, but I also think they’re like the rest of us who remember when “miracles” and other spiritual confirmations happen, but conveniently forget the many many times when things don’t work out so well. We humans see patterns that confirm our biases, and ignore the things that don’t.

        Every single person I know who died young, was extremely religious, and prayed like crazy. Two of them were Mormon children, btw. This tells me that prayer is only effective as far as it comforts the person doing the praying. An interesting site I have read is titled, “Why won’t God heal amputees?” Good question, I think.

        You talk about the mysteries of life. There is a wonderful hour-long program from the Discovery Channel (which unfortunately is no longer available online) called “Curiosity with Stephen Hawking, Did God Create the Universe?” In it, he talks about how humans created god to explain things they didn’t understand. The more science explained, the smaller god became. Now, it’s so ingrained, that most of us still cling to Biblical stories written by Bronze Age writers, similar to today’s Taliban.

      • The more science explained, the smaller god became.

        For me, it’s the exact opposite! THe more science explained, the bigger, wider, and more expansive God became.

        I do wonder, however, if we’re talking about the same God. 🙂

        On that note, I’m off to watch The Life of Pi on HBO!

        Quite appropriate, I believe. As I interpret the tiger as God! 😛

      • I think the miracle of life is that the thing that is “greater than ourselves” is actually us. Not too long ago, a special needs child I work with in public school, was freaking out about a fire drill. Nothing I could say or do would help. A teacher who I knew to be quite religious leaned down and whispered a brief prayer to the child, who was also from a very religious family. She immediately calmed down, and lost her fear, (for that fire drill anyway). So I guess I would interpret the tiger as the BELIEF in God.

        Because Einstein sometimes spoke of God in his writings, people have interpreted that he was a believer (he wasn’t, in the conventional sense of a personal God). But he believed in a “cosmic religion” : “If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it.” This is the type of god-belief that I think HG is referring to, but very certainly NOT the type that David or Ms. Tuff believe in at all.

      • Umm, God didn’t murder Job’s family. Satan did. You see it as a game. I see it as a test a faith.

      • Here’s a better quote from Einstein that reminds me of HG’s writing about God:

        “A knowledge of the existence of something we cannot penetrate, of the manifestations of the profoundest reason and the most radiant beauty, which are only accessible to our reason in their most elementary forms—it is this knowledge and this emotion that constitute the truly religious attitude; in this sense, and in this alone, I am a deeply religious man.”
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        “I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it. –Mark Twain (?)

      • ALC, my memory of the Bible story of Job is a little hazy, I admit, but the point is that God allows it as a test of faith. It’s still a murder of ten(?) humans–and what if they were your children? Would you go, “Oh good, I passed the test.” The story of Abraham and Isaac is similar (even though God stopped him, he was still willing). There are people today, like Andrea Yates, who thought God wanted her to sacrifice her 5 children, and she did it.

        We don’t consider that animal and human sacrifice was actually, really practiced in Bible times and now that we’ve become civilized, we say, oh, that’s just symbolic, God doesn’t really want us to do that.

    • Another inspiring story, on the flip side, is that of Pat Tillman, who gave up a 3.6 million dollar football contract, in order to serve his country in Afghanistan, eight months after 9/11. “He repeatedly mentioned in his personal journals during wartime service that he drew strength from and deeply valued his closest friendships, parents, wife and family.” He was killed, unfortunately by friendly fire, and at his funeral, his brother was angered at the attempt by certain speakers to turn it into a faith-promoting story, and made it clear that Tillman was atheist.

  9. Holy moly this is getting deep, but I love it, please continue.

    • Yeah, I guess we are! I just don’t subscribe to a dual either/or concept of the divine. I don’t think if God is x… then s/he can’t be y… kind of thing. I’m a complex, contradictory human being, so I expect forces bigger than myself to be even more complicated.

      I guess I’m just wanting to reach deeper than a simple “you’re on the side of monotheistic religion” (whatever that might be) in opposition to a “you have to be atheist because God contradicts himself (usually a he) in the Bible.”

      Then again, the simple choice between belief and unbelief seems much too easy to me and a way to simplify our comprehension of divinity. I just think we could all push ourselves on a deeper spiritual level that accepts that there’s more to a cosmological worldview than a simple “I believe” vs. “I don’t believe” contest. JMHO of course! 😛

  10. Thank You HG for this “grace-filled” article and follow-up responses. Your ability to engage us on many levels with any given topic is astounding. Carry on my friend 😉

    CChalo, you’re no slouch either! Very Well debated 🙂

  11. Hg, This lady’s story brought me to tears. Thank you for sharing it. She was able to speak to this person in a loving way because she understood what pain and hardship were. She relied on God to give her peace and grace as she walked through tough times. The love she experienced from God is what enabled her to love the unlovable, to look through the rage and apparent evil of another in order to see a hurting human being. I believe that it’s through our own hardships that we are able to be compassionate to others. I don’t know if I could/would have done what she did. I aspire to be more like that though.

    I am in agreement with you on many of the points you made tonight. You spoke them well and I appreciate it.

    CChalo, I don’t agree with you, but I do appreciate your opinion and your courage to go there.

  12. Thank you Joymus and ALC. It’s a busy day today, and I keep getting sidetracked here to write about one of my favorite topics–well two of my favorite topics if you count David.
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    “I don’t happen to believe that God exists above us. I believe that God exists between us. The great miracle, to me, is human consciousness, the power that we hold to examine our lives and to take stock of what we believe and who we love and how we are to best spend our brief span on earth.”
    –Anonymous

    “When I think of all the harm the Bible has done, I despair of ever writing anything to equal it.” –Oscar Wilde

  13. i.e. God/religion/spirituality: I know what I believe in my heart and it doesn’t need debate or scientific reasoning. It’s what feels true to me, what I know to be so. Of course the awesome thing is that everyone can hold to the true thing that resonates the most to them, even if it’s the opposite of my true thing.

  14. Really great comments tonight about God/spirituality!

    One thing I will say, though. People like David and Ms. Tuff may be coming at the divine from a literal/biblical perspective, but I don’t think that’s necessarily limiting, especially if it leads them to live extraordinary lives.

    Not everyone is going to be esoteric about it as I or Cchalo.

    As long as we’re not browbeating each other about the one way or the right way to be spiritual.

    • I may speak about it in an abstract way, but it’s deeply personal, too. I couldn’t listen to the whole 911 call, because it hit too close to home. I’ve been there with my son, who is David’s age (no guns or threats to others involved, however). Suicide threats, the mental hospital, talking him through a 911 call, are all in my recent past. Once in a while, I really start to feel the unfairness between a young man suffering from mental illness, contrasted with a young man with such a great, recognized talent, and loved by so many.

  15. To believe in a higher power and have spirituality is one thing, but to obey manmade rules to gain the kingdom of heaven is another thing. The organized religion that I grew up with had dose restrictions. Now that I have found my peace with my spirituality without someone else’s idea as to what needs to be done, has given me such calming feeling without guilt that comes with not obeying those dose rules. But like I said before, everyone has the right to chose there own path.

  16. Shanny in Australia

    Powerful post HG! Especially loved the summary line. 🙂

  17. Great post HG. The smiles exchanged between David and the gentleman seem so genuine; it appears that two very different people made a connection. Similarly, Ms. Tuff connected with the would-be shooter. I’ll leave the religion discussion alone but must say …great points made by all.

  18. Random, but it warms my heart to see the young Archies come into their own. Back when D’s website provided spaces for forming regional fan groups, I joined one where several of us maintained contact offline. On one occasion, a few of us (adults) were driving to California to see D. One of the younguns in our fan group (she was 13) cried so because we wouldn’t take her with us to the show. We kept trying to explain to her that she was a minor and that we didn’t all really know one another that well but she just didn’t get it. She thought we were turning out backs on her. Anywho, I found her on twitter this morn. She’s now 18, all grown up, a freshman in college and she’s still an Archie. It made my morning to hear from her after several years of no contact.

  19. Looking at the top photo reminded me of a blog I read at the time it was taken, from another young volunteer who was with David in India. To her credit, she wondered why God would allow these sweet people to suffer with leprosy, when she had such a privileged life. After pondering, she concluded that it happened to them because they had the strength to withstand it, whereas God knew that she never would have. (Slapping forehead at absurd religious thinking).

    Ali is right about people just believing what helps them personally, (though some of us are interested in what is objective truth and what isn’t). Years ago my religious belief helped me through a cancer scare, but more recently, I had another scare and I was so relieved to NOT have to do all that praying, and was better able to just let it go–with the same good result. OTOH, my children’s birth-mothers, who have had terrible hardships, have found great comfort in their born-again churches.

    • Yes, that whole thing about God giving leprosy to just only to those that can handle it, is really an absurd comment. I think that is a way that believers can dismiss mercy in this world, it’s God’s will.

  20. OT, I’m curious to watch the VMA’s tonight to see Miley Cyrus’ act. My daughter was asked to fly to NY to perform with a group dancing with her, but it didn’t work out. It’s probably a good thing, after witnessing Miley’s generally outrageous performances on other shows.

  21. I am watching the VMA’s tonight. I believe that Kari is there at the VMA’s with JT and it looks as though there will be an NSYNC reunion. It will be interesting to see.

    • Right now on my tv, the VMA’s are competing with an old episode of Columbo. I’m channel flipping but Columbo is winning out, LOL. I look forward to seeing NSYNC.

  22. I thought that was an amazing performance by JT. Loved seeing NSYNC together. Really enjoyed JT. I just caught a glimpse of Kari when MTV just showed NSYNC backstage. Miley’s performance on the other hand was a joke.

  23. JTs performance was great. He pulled a Beyonce and had NSYNC disappear as quickly as Destinys Child did at the superbowl.

  24. How can anybody think that it wouldn’t be good for David to tour with JT or be mentored by him. I just don’t get it.

  25. Yes, NSYNC did disappear fast. lol. I agree with you cq. I don’t know how anyone would not think that being involved somehow with JT would ever be a bad thing for David. JT killed it. I always love Bruno. He can just do no wrong in my book. Looking forward to Katy. Not very impressed with Lady Gaga as I just do not like that song.

  26. Oh God, how I hate Miley Cyrus. Fake. Fake. Fake. Fake. Fake. Talentless.

  27. I agree. She was just awful.

  28. I had enough of all the close up shots of Taylor Swift at the VMA’s. That girl sure knows where the camera is at all times. lol.

  29. My daughter is moaning that she doesn’t care how bad Miley might be–her friends that performed with her get to go to the after party, and their dressing room is next to Taylor Swift, lol. (We’re west coast and haven’t seen anything yet).

  30. HOLYMOLY JT and Bruno–David you better hury back before I jump ship! LOL Ive never been fond of Gorillas but Im a fan now! Bruno is a sexy beast! He might just make a cougar out of me yet! *wink*

  31. opps dont know why sometimes it comes uop as acnewjersey

  32. Miley was one crotch grab or twerk short of a porn flick! Pure T.R.A.S.H.!

  33. Just wanted to say (write) something to cchalo, I have always enjoyed reading your insightful comments but today, as I was reading this thread, not only were your comments insightful, they were brilliant! As an agnostic who was brought up in a deeply religious family, you brought up so many points I pondered when I was younger. The truth is that I am leaning more & more toward Athieism. Unfortunately, I would be an outcast among my peers if ever I came out as an Athiest so I just say “I’m not sure”. I am such a coward! And I wonder just how many people are cowards like me, non-believers but go with the flow so as not to lose the life they are accustomed to and the people they hold dear?

    One thing I recall about David is when he was asked which famous person, living or dead, he would like to meet and he answered Joseph Smith. I would have bet my life he would have said without a doubt Jesus Christ so I was more than a little dismayed because it was so telling that the young LDS are taught that JS is right up there with Christ. He did say Jesus Christ after some thought. I just thought it was interesting.

    Thanks again cchalo!

    • Oh my goodness, I don’t remember him answering that one, it doesn’t surprise me because it seems that he is a TBM. Hope someday he opens his eyes.

    • I do not understand why people ask for others to understand & respect their beliefs and then continually express dismay at David’s personal beliefs. Clearly Joseph Smith is a very important part of his religion. The fact that he would like to meet him is completely a personal decision. Any opening of eyes is purely a matter of individual perspective.

      • Exactly Ali it is a matter of individual perspective, I have mine and you have yours. Not that I want to go into this, but really have to bring my point across. The fact that missionaries are trying to push (Mormons would say share) the way they feel is the RIGHT way to worship, isn’t that kind of trying to open their eyes to what they think is right? I’m just stating what I feel. Simply because I don’t have respect for JS, doesn’t mean I don’t respect David, he could worship a rock and I still would respect him as a human being, but wouldn’t respect the rock.

      • I completely understand you having your own beliefs. However, I don’t agree when we try to associate our individual beliefs with what someone else should be doing. The implication that I got was that it was somehow “wrong” that David would want to meet JS if he had the chance to meet anyone dead or alive. It’s not wrong for him but maybe it is for you or someone else. That was my only point I was trying to get at.
        Sharing or “pushing”, as you say, your beliefs with another is fine with me. People have free will to listen or not. Its when you judge another for their beliefs based on your beliefs that it becomes different to me. But clearly that’s just me and I’m just sharing my opinion like you are. This is a bit convoluted to try to type out but hopefully it made some kind of sense.

      • Absolutely we really have way different way of looking at things, never is right or wrong.

      • oops neither not never, lol.

    • Thank you so much for your comment, lurking about. I especially relate to the story of “The Emperor’s New Clothes” lol. I felt inadequate in my family for not having amazing spiritual experiences, until one time I finally did have one. Nowadays I know two things: my spiritual experience was completely self-generated, based on a coincidence; and most people in my family were faking it like I was.

      A lot of people revere, and would love to meet, L. Ron Hubbard or Warren Jeffs, because they’ve been taught that they were/are great people. Outsiders haven’t been sheltered from the reality, and are shocked that anyone would love them. Most LDS people also have a very rosy picture of Joseph Smith, especially youngsters like David. I think many Mormons are starting to question the official version of his life, and while some leave, others choose to have faith regardless. Who knows where David will stand when he returns.

  34. Since several quotes have been made. I would like to also make one and tell the story of Horatio Spafford. In 1871 after the Great Chicago Fire, he was ruinded financially. A couple years later he and his family intended on traveling to Europe. Another issue came up and he had to send his wife and 4 daughters on without him. On route, in the Atlantic Ocean, their ship crashed and quickly sank, killing his daughters. His wife survived and sent him a telagram “Saved alone…..”. When he was able, he traveled by ship across the Atlantic. When they came to the point where his family’s ship had sunk, he penned these words, which is now a famous hymn:

    When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
    When sorrows like sea billows roll;
    Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to know,
    It is well, it is well, with my soul.

    Refrain:
    It is well, (it is well),
    With my soul, (with my soul)
    It is well, it is well, with my soul.

    Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
    Let this blest assurance control,
    That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
    And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

    My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
    My sin, not in part but the whole,
    Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
    Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

    For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
    If Jordan above me shall roll,
    No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life,
    Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.

    But Lord, ’tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
    The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
    Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
    Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul.

    And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
    The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
    The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
    A song in the night, oh my soul

    You can deny God if that brings some sort of comfort to your mind or is easier for your intellect to accept. You can blame the evils of the world on Him in order to justify your denial.

    You can’t, however, deny God’s presence in people’s hearts and lives. Those who have a personal relationship with Him understand that though life can be hard and we don’t understand why, our relationship with Him is what matters. It brings peace that passes understanding in the worst of circumstances. It gives us hope. I’m not pro- religion or man-made religious rules. I know God personally. I have a relationship with Him and that’s undeniable.

    A link to the song:

    • sorry for the typos.

    • That was a nice story, but I but there are plenty of those kind of stories with people that aren’t believers, just saying.

      • Thanks cq. I’m sure that there are plenty stories of non beilievers going through tragedies and coming out on the other end without bitterness, and having come to peace with the situation. I don’t doubt that.
        This story was posted as an example of someone who in the midst of tragedy was able to glorify God, thanking Him and praising Him. He didn’t lose faith. His faith increased and a gift was given that encourages many people now. It’s similar to the example of Job.

    • I’m sure many of you have seen this wonderful story of Amazing Grace by Wintley Phipps. Makes me cry like a baby–like I do with David–and I don’t even believe. You believe this way because this is when and where you were born. If you were born in the the Islamic world, you would believe fervently in Allah, if you were born in ancient Greece, you would love Zeus and Aphrodite, if you were born in parts of Africa, you would believe the witch doctor would cure all of your ills.

      People believe so strongly in their god that they do amazing things, or even terrible things. The Egyptians built the Great Pyramids to insure their afterlife, the Aztecs sacrificed their children to honor their gods, and the 9/11 bombers flew into buildings, knowing with 100% certainty that they would be rewarded in heaven.

      • P.S. Beautiful beautiful song, ALC!

      • P.P.S. To give credit where it is due, this video was posted here on Soul David several years ago.

      • Man he can sing, thanks cchalo. Now I have a question, can a good singer convey the message of a hymn with being a believer, hmm.

      • Wow! That was powerful. His voice is wonderful.
        Thank you for posting this cchalo 🙂

        Thank you also for informing me of the reason I believe what I believe. 🙂
        I’m being sarcastic with you. I like both you and cq. I admire both of you for your courage. I admire you also, not because of your faith perspective, but because of some personal choices that you’ve made. I know you don’t believe in prayer. but I’ve been meaning to tell you that I’m praying for you and your son. You shared a little in this thread. My heart goes out to you.

        It’s an interesting point about believing what we were brought up to believe. I admit coming to faith in Christ may have been easier for me because of my upbringing. Here’s the thing though. We each have the ability to search for truth There comes an age and a point in our lives when we need to test and try the truth of what we believe. If I were born Muslim, I would certainly believe as they do, but there would come a point when I would want to make sure that what I believe is true. Same if I were born Mormon, Atheist, etc. My faith is built not on tradition and feeling, although some of that’s involved. My faith is built on evidence based on facts.

        I’ve studied. Done my homework. I encourage others to study and do their homework as well. Search for truth (and there is absolute truth- whole other discussion) diligently. Research the facts, on all sides of a belief. Don’t just believe what people tell you. I’ve studied Evolution vs. Creation, thoroughly, from both sides. I’ve studied many other religions, the origins and validity of their books. And of course, I’ve studied my own faith, the Bible, the validity of it based on archeology, geographics, historical accuracy and prophetic accuracy.

        I’ve searched for truth and have found it, but I never cease to study another point of view to see if it’s valid and how it challenges my beliefs.

        Cchalo, here’s the sad thing. Some of these religions mentioned discourage their people from searching for truth, from using reliable sources to find knowledge, even about their own religion! Here’s the reason, when you want to perpetuate a lie, you do everything you can to keep people from the truth, including fear tactics, and excessive demands. Finding the truth for some people can be very costly and even dangerous. It can cost them ex-communication from their church, being ostracized by friends and family, their marriage, their businesses being boycotted and going under. Worse yet, in some religions, truth seekers can be thrown into prison, tortured, even killed. It’s happening today as we discuss. People are coming to the truth and it’s costing them everything.

        Time to stop. I need to fade out for awhile. Love ya’ll.

  35. Very well stated ALC. That is all the truth.

  36. We could keep this conversation going for years, and I’m sure no one’s mind would be changed. What works for us, works for us 🙂 . Thank you ALC, for your good thoughts for my son, (he’s on the path to recovery now–yay!).

    Because I’m a tenacious old gal, I’ll paraphrase a chapter from the “Why Won’t God Heal Amputees?” website on the topic of different beliefs by different people. It’s blunt and unsubtle, so please excuse:

    Joseph Smith tells of finding golden plates near his home in New York state. He translates them, and an angel then takes them away. The story on the plates tells of an entire civilization of Jewish people in the Americas 2000 years ago, and tells of Jesus visiting them after his crucifixion. There are millions of people who really believe this story, and can answer every question you might have, though everyone outside their “bubble of delusion” knows it’s a fairy story.

    Mohammed is visited by an angel who speaks to him for 11 years and then brings him a magical horse, on which he rides to heaven. Everything the angel told Mohammed is recorded in the Koran. Do you believe this story? Of course not. Inside the Muslim bubble–of over a billion people– this is completely believed, but the rest of us know it’s imaginary.

    A virgin is inseminated by God and gives birth to a son. When grown, he performs many miracles. He is crucified, but after three days, he rises from the dead. As a Christian, “you cannot understand how anyone could question any of it, because it is so obvious to you. Here is the thing that I would like to help you understand: The four billion people who are not Christians look at the Christian story in exactly the same way that you look at…the Mormon story and the Muslim story.” It is full of magical elements that are plainly a delusion.

    • Thank you cchalo, so true. I think it’s human nature for a lot people to think there is something great when you die and if you follow rules, that place will be available and every religion thinks that by following their rules will be the path and all other are not the true path, kind of silly when you think about it.

    • K, back again to correct the facts or story as you would call it. God did not inseminate Mary. Jesus was begotten by the Holy Ghost. That’s actually quite offensive to say and it’s not the Biblical account. Back to my point about doing your homework. Have you studied to find out if these religious books have any validity? Whether they’re true/false historically? I don’t think so. Maybe you shouldn’t talk about them if you haven’t.

      You’ve chosen to believe there is no God. It’s a belief like any other belief, a faith like any other faith. How did we get here? One small atom, a black hole? How did it come into existance? It takes a lot of faith to believe that something came from nothing, that order came from chaos. These theorys actually go against the laws of physics and general science.

      I’m done. Please, I ask though, when you speak about the Bible, will you get your facts right first? I will not be here to defend it the next time.

      Very good to hear things are better though. 🙂

      • I think that a thousand people can read the same passage in the Bible and there will be a thousand different interpretations, and I’m talking about people that don’t have influence by organize religion, no matter how much correct homework they do, just saying.

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