Friday, October 13, 2006

A Lesson From The Torn Down Amish School

Thursday the Amish in Nickel Mines, PA had their one room schoolhouse demolished before dawn. The site where a gunman fatally shot 5 girls and wounded 5 others is now a bare patch of earth. The Amish plan to leave a quiet pasture where the schoolhouse stood.

Hopefully our nation has already learned important lessons from watching the Amish respond to this nightmarish tragedy. The Amish have modeled forgiveness having already declared their concern for the gunman’s family. They have modeled grief as they have clung to their faith and to their community for strength and courage. Anyone that learns how to forgive well and grieve life’s losses well is living an extraordinary life.

Now the Amish are demonstrating how to move forward from tragedy. Forgiveness and grief are not over. They will continue to experience both for some time. But, they will no longer view the schoolhouse. There will not be a structure to remind them of their pain. It’s gone.

In the Bible, Ecclesiastes 3:3 tells us that there is a time for everything; “A time to tear down and a time to rebuild.” There are times when our experience is so far reaching and so life penetrating that moving on has to be more radical than a patch work job on the walls and a fresh coat of paint. There are times to tear down and remove.

Some of us have “rooms” of resentment in various places of our heart. We sometimes go there and relive past trauma and experience pain, anger and raw emotion. And, as long as that “room” remains we return to it over and again. It’s like playing a videotape of someone wronging us, then rewinding it and playing it again and again.

That “room” needs to be torn down and we need to move on. This is a work that God does in us and we exercise faith in order to cooperate with His work. By faith we receive power to forgive, grieve, to tear down and to rebuild.

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