How Long?

by Joanie Butman


When my children were young, whenever I went out I needed to answer a litany of questions to assure them that I would indeed be coming back: “Do you have to go? Can I come with you? Where are you going? Who are you going with?” And the most important, “WHEN WILL YOU BE BACK?” As they got older, those questions were not ones of assurance but a gaming strategy, to see exactly how long they had to sneak some forbidden fruit whether it be snacks, TV, video games, computer time, and who knows what else before my return. In the wake of yet another senseless massacre this week, I’ve got similar questions for God along with a need for reassurance.


HOW LONG? How long do we have to wait for Christ’s return and final victory when, “He will wipe every tear from our eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Rev 21:4). Excellent question and one the disciples presented to Jesus when He told them of His imminent departure. His answer was just as unsatisfying then as it is now: “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” (Matthew 24:36). There have been many times in history when people thought we were in the end times. Perhaps we are, but no one can predict their duration. In the meantime, we can only choose to concentrate on what we do know, just as the original disciples did. Namely, God’s goodness, sovereignty, righteousness, provision as well as His unbounding love, mercy and grace.


We can choose to let conflict and fear reign our lives or choose to turn in prayer to the only One who will eventually put all things right. Political pundits may perceive the offers of prayer as platitudes, but for most of us it’s the only choice available. By choosing to lift up the victims, their families, the disturbed gunman, our country, our world and our leaders in prayer – for comfort, compassion, protection, wisdom and guidance –  we ourselves are reminded of God’s sovereignty. Only love can cure hatred, and that’s God’s specialty. Personally, these are exactly the times when my faith in God’s providence and justice becomes the lifeline I choose to hold onto.


Following the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting, that community proclaimed to the world, “We are Sandy Hook, We Choose Love.” One would imagine that love was probably the last emotion they were feeling in regard to that horrific event, yet love is the action they boldly chose rather than acting out of despair, bitterness or revenge. This public pronouncement was their way of illustrating that love wins in the end. A mother of one of the victims started The Choose Love Movement in her son’s memory. Her mission focuses on teaching children the power of their thoughts and how to transform them – the very subject we discussed last week.


 “An angry thought can be changed. The Choose Love Movement is teaching children and adults how they can choose love. The Sandy Hook tragedy started with an angry thought in the shooter’s head. But we can change those angry thoughts into loving thoughts. Our mission is to teach kids that they have control over their thoughts and put them to work for them. Making kids aware that they have the power to control their thoughts and all the benefits of turning their angry thoughts into loving thoughts is the Choose Love Movement.”

The movement embodies the reality that personal choices have infinite impact on you, your family, your community and our world...choose your thoughts wisely!