“Dad, people are making decisions based on false information. They are being told lies by dark, invisible, yet very real forces “. – Braden Speed
“Two years now, son. Has your death meant anything to the world you left behind? God, please say it has.” -Braden’s Dad
October 30, 2020. God has proven loyal in coming nearest when we hurt the worst. The last two years have seemed like twenty. Time’s supposed to heal all wounds and to some extent that holds true. Still, maybe they should rethink that adage and make it time heals most wounds but others you just have to live with (doesn’t quite have the same ring though).
The Library of Congress lacks sufficient space to house the stories that will be written about this year in world history. Of course, there have been far worse years statistically. Some of biblical proportion. Still, every person living on a civilized slice of Earth has faced completely new realities in 2020. Circumstances and choices none of us have ever dreamt of and many which would, under normal circumstances be a nightmare shared in fading detail upon waking. “You won’t believe the nightmare I had last night”. But it’s real.
Decisions aren’t new, but this year we’ve each been presented unique ones, and many with high risk price tags attached about our future. Employment. Education. Safety and security for our families. Who will govern our country. Do we stay the course with that small business/ career or take an uncharted course never before considered. Does a young couple start the family they’ve dreamed about so long or wait until things “get better”. Does a young teenage girl choose to keep an unplanned pregnancy.
In thousands and perhaps millions of real life situations, right now such decisions are being formed. Studies estimate on average, we make between 30,000-35,000 choices per day. The small and large decisions: When or will I roll out of bed? Should I hit snooze again? Do I wear this or that? Breakfast or coffee on the way? How do I react to the guy who just shot past and cut me off? Where do I place my faith? Who are my friends and which of them are to be trusted as true friends? What is my future? Should I go to college or enter the work world? How will we navigate and how will I best serve as a spouse and parent in all this?
Simply said, life is an unending and innumerable series of choices.
Not to be morbid, but let’s get honest. Tragically, in this very moment many today are grappling with the most timely and important personal decision of all: Whether to stay for another day or to check out early. To drive this even closer to “real”, kids are thinking seriously about ending their lives at the expense of not only their hopeful future but that of those left behind.
Within that small secret and dark population, their decision isn’t only if, but when and even how to leave. Today or tomorrow, next week, or perhaps later this summer when it will be somehow less painful or obvious to school peers. Those were the choices Braden faced two years ago on the morning of October 30, 2018.
One literal hell of a choice.
What he chose to do in that moment of mental and emotional confusion will impact our family for the rest of our days. It’s also helped to focus on the most important things which we too often allow to get fuzzed by the noise of a very distracting world. Today, here’s the big question that begs an answer and it’s framed in first person intentionally:
Do I choose to proactively live my brief few years (life) or do I just get through the next day?
As long as I knew Braden in the relatively brief time we breathed the same air, I never fully grasped his view of this world. I really wish I could, because in large part he had it right. Braden often asked the uncomfortable questions: Why are we here and why can’t we just go to Heaven once we’re saved? I had ready “Dad” answers to most every question until those were posed over a dinner table when he was just a little boy.
It’s at least become a little clearer since that day. Maybe I’ll have a better answer next time someone asks.
- Why are we here? Life is an infinite series of choices and struggles forcing us all to wonder why we’re here. We’d be idiots if we didn’t. The amazing thing is we were created with the innate and unique ability to choose how we think, feel, or respond to any of life’s challenges. If we mentally choose to be victims of circumstance, we will be. Alternatively, if we choose instead to be victors in the midst of even the worst life deals us, we are that as well. This way of living also plays out on a broader scale by positively impacting others around us. Trust me. We’ve had so many impact our family in life changing ways! Each one by a conscious choice made by someone to care, pray, and support.
2. Why wouldn’t we just go to Heaven when we are saved? See answer 1.
Life is exclusively about decisions we each make while we’re here. Our heavenly Father certainly desires his children to make wise choices yet I’ve made thousands of poor ones that fall miles from God’s plan. However, one decision I made which won’t be a regret is the choice to surrender to my Creator and He has infinite grace for mistakes made yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
If one good thing comes from this, we can testify with confidence that Christ has walked every second of every day with us through the worst this world has to offer. We have decided to share our testimony openly about this experience because failing to do so gives Satan a victory and we’ve decided not to allow that.
Parents: Our kids are hungry for real answers in a world that doesn’t make sense to them. Although it doesn’t sometimes make sense to us either, we are compelled as parents to learn, grow, and lead them in the way they should go. They are desperately needing guidance.
Teens: Look around you and learn from the mistakes of others. Don’t allow yourself to fall into traps Satan has set. They are invisible yet deadly. Watch for danger signs because they’re everywhere. Focus on making wise decisions. What some call, “The next right step”. Life will be a never ending series of choices and each one matters. YOU MATTER even when you think you don’t. If you’ve not done so, make your next decision one for your eternity and for true abundant life today.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts”
“For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places”.