“One should not judge a book by its’ cover.”
Well, I do. Show me an eye-catching photo, design, or a hook-line-and-sinker phrase on a book’s cover, and I’m sold.
By the same token, we are not to judge others.
Well, I do. I keep trying not to, but the very next pitiful-poor-person who crosses my path is usually categorized within three to five seconds.
Each and every time (nearly), I beg the Lord for forgiveness, and then whip around and “categorize” again. (Categorize being a very functional word for the dysfunctional act of judging.)
The tirade in my brain ensues:
“Probably too tired to fool with make-up today.”
“Oooh! Very, very full of himself.”
“The worst! Bad botox.”
“Must be color blind.”
“It ain’t the 70’s anymore, pal.”
Now that you’re certain I’m on a highway headed South, and I don’t mean Florida, please indulge me in a few more minutes of confession.
A couple of weeks ago, I ran up to a neighborhood drugstore. Wanting to print some pictures, I snagged a chair, plugged in my pic-stick-thingy and began editing and ordering.
Out of the corner of my eye, a tall, young man began walking by me. Not once, but several trips later, I became nervous and secured my purse with me up off the floor, into my lap.
To add to my anxiety, my order went haywire. Deciding to take the stick back home and ask hubby for help, I removed it, put it in my purse, draped my purse over my head, over my shoulder, secured it with a bungee cord (kidding) and headed for the front door.
The very same young man, who I’ll call “Circling Buzzard”, was now near the front door. Oh, wait! This gets better! He was now at the counter. Well, not exactly at the counter. He was behind the counter. Yes, folks, crawling with humility I tell you, this young man was working behind the counter.
My “Circling Buzzard” is employed by this drugstore??? And yes, every time since then, when I’ve returned, he’s been there working. He’s the nicest young man, always ready to help. Having misjudged him, I am in-the-slammer-convicted, one hundred percent. (I believe the Lord orchestrates this man’s schedule around mine as a grace-filled reminder.)
We’re taught by God, in His Word, not to judge. Over and over and over. Here are three of two hundred and eight times we see the word “judge”:
Luke 6:37 says, “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. ..”
Romans 2:1 says, “You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.”
Matthew 7:2 says, “For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
I recently grabbed a book, yes, because of it’s cover, which includes the most amazing stories of grace, forgiveness, and overcoming judgment I’ve ever read. Ever.
Let’s chat about One Light Still Shines: My Life Beyond the Shadow of the Amish Schoolhouse Shooting by Marie Monville with Cindy Lambert.
I had only a smidge of a recollection about the Amish Schoolhouse Shootings. All I remembered was the country being in awe of the Amish families who so willingly forgave the shooter and his family after the loss of their little girls. Any time God gets the glory, nationwide, people pay attention. (I was stunned to discover it happened over seven years ago, on October 2, 2006.)
I was aghast at the details: The shooter, Charlie Roberts, walked into the Amish Schoolhouse. He let the teachers and the male students go. He tied up the remaining ten girls, ages seven to twelve, shooting each one. Then he shot himself. Five of the girls died, while the remaining five were seriously injured.
Out of honor for these families, let’s read their names and offer up a prayer on their behalf: Naomi Rose Ebersol, age seven, Marian Stoltzfus Fisher, age thirteen, Anna Mae Stoltzfus, age twelve, Lena Zook Miller, age eight, and Mary Liz Miller, age seven.
I do not recall all the slanderous press and excessive attention “the Shooter’s Wife”, Marie received. (How would you like that label?) She had mountains of judgment against her from people all over the world. The media worked hard to hunt her down.
The happy flipside of that were the mountains of support, emails, prayers, and gifts showered upon Marie and her family. She recounts encounter after encounter that’ll take your breath away.
Marie and Charlie had three children: Carson – eighteen months, Bryce – five years old and Abigail – seven years old. They lost their firstborn daughter, Elise, only twenty minutes after she was born. Apparently, unbeknownst to everyone, Charlie never got over her death.
So why would Marie be bold enough to share this story? How had her faith survived? How had she stayed sane, and been able to trust enough to remarry? How had she changed?
She answers, “The secret is this: No matter how tragic your circumstances, your life is not a tragedy. It is a love story. And in your love story, when you think all the lights have gone out, one light still shines.”
There are two parts in the book I had to re-read to make sure I’d comprehended them correctly. They are so astonishing, so only-God-could-pull-this-off, so full of amazing grace, I still can’t believe them.
While you’re still stunned over the shooting, thru’ Marie’s eyes, something potentially frightening transpires. She looks out the window of her parents’ home and suddenly sees a troupe of Amish men walking down the street, then into their yard. Holding her breath, (I realized I was holding mine!), for fear of their reaction, she hollers to her Father. He goes out to meet them.
Upon their coming face-to-face, one of the Amish men embraces her Father. He melts into their arms. And one, by one, the rest of the men hug him individually. They told her Dad they had forgiven Charlie. Marie said, “They poured grace unimaginable and divine mercy generously into our lives. Before my eyes, the gospel was being powerfully lived out.”
Grace. Amazing Grace. God’s grace.
The other part that grabbed me and still won’t let me go was at Marie’s husband’s funeral. Thanks to the police who’d done a great job keeping the media away, Marie and her family had been somewhat insulated. That is, until the day of the funeral arrived.
When the cars carrying Marie and her family arrived, the media was in full force. Anxiety building, Marie wondered what to do, how to protect her children, etc. As she was scrambling for ideas, out of the corner of her eye, near the building, she saw some movement. Within seconds, countless Amish people flowed effortlessly from around the building, lining up, forming a wall of protection so that Marie and her family could exit the car without being visible.
Marie calls this her wall of grace. Isn’t that the most beautiful picture? Families who had lost their little girls, surrounding the family whose father was the one who shot them, along with their friends, supported, forgave, and protected Marie and her family.
Grace. Amazing Grace. God’s grace.
As God would orchestrate, while in my car today, I heard a song, I Am, by David Crowder. The lyrics speak to those of us such as Marie who have gone thru’ storms of any size: “There’s no space that His love can’t reach. There’s no place that we can’t find peace. There’s no end to Amazing Grace…I Am, holding on to you…in the middle of the storm, I am Holding on…!” Watch and listen to soak in the rest of the lyrics:
Thankfully, by God’s grace, He built on the already strong faith Marie had. She clung to it as her very lifeline. She’s rooted like a redwood, rooted with her faith like we’re talking about for 2014. Brutally honest, yet with open hands to God, she received the filling-to-overflowing strength needed to get thru’ each day. She cites Scripture after Scripture that sustained her. What an example to us all.
When speaking of the Amish, my favorite quote of Marie’s is: “Their love was abundant; it was selfless; it was extraordinary. It was as if a host of angels was gathered there, pouring out rivers of grace from heavenly vessels. My heart was showered, washed clean of Satan’s clinging stench, then doused with holy oil.”
Don’t miss the “rest of the story” in Marie’s book. The theme of redemption runs throughout. Like me, you’ll still be shaking your head. God is good. All the time.
To find out more about Marie, visit her website: www.mariemonville.com
To watch Marie’s testimony, watch the below YouTube.
‘Til next time!