Seven years ago yesterday, I got phone call that I never thought I would have. I was at Charisma Church setting up for our Christmas production of Narnia. I was in charge of lighting and effects, so I had been busy that whole week climbing ladders and hanging lights in our ceiling. In the middle of setting up, I got a call from my mom. I could tell by her voice that this was not going to be a call I wanted to get. She told me that my cousin Chris had been hit by a car while riding his motorcycle and had died. I wasn’t really sure what to think when I heard this. Chris was a year and a half older than me, and was the oldest cousin on my mom’s side of the family. We grew up about fifteen minutes away from each other, so we spent a lot of time together growing up. We had lots of inside jokes and lots of good memories. Never did I expect those to be all we would have. I had so many emotions going through my head. Chris has even served in the Army and survived a tour in Afghanistan, and now this happens. I couldn’t stop myself from asking God why. I know His thoughts and ways are higher than mine (Isaiah 55:9), but it was hard to wonder how good would come from this tragedy.
Being a pallbearer at his funeral was one of the toughest things I’ve ever done. Never did I think I would be doing that at the age of twenty-one. People try to say words to comfort you, but even though they are sincere, they are not effective. Our family tried to appear strong, but we were not very successful. Comfort and joy was hard to come by that week. So where do you go when nothing is helping? Proverbs 18:10 tells us, “The name of the Lord is a strong fortress; the godly run to him and are safe.” Even though I had so many questions, I chose to turn to Jesus. As I prayed, something happened that almost felt wrong. As I prayed, I began to feel peace about the situation. I wanted to be upset, I wanted to be mad, but I was feeling peace and comfort. God was able to do what no one had been able to. That’s because God’s desire is to protect us. When the enemy attacks us, in this case with something that hit like a nuclear bomb, God is our strong tower to protect us.
When I was in Israel, I was able to go to Masada. Masada is a fortress on top of a plateau in the middle of the desert. Israel doesn’t like to mess up nature by building guard rails and walls, so when we were on top of Masada you could walk all the way up the the edge of the cliff and look down. It was terrifying. If I had been in an opposing army, there is no way I would have climbed those cliffs just to try to break into the fortress on top.
When armies were stationed in that fortress, they could see the enemy coming from miles away. If you happened to live outside the fortress, when you saw the cloud of dust rising in the horizon you knew it was time to get into the fortress. You would drop everything you were doing, grab your family, and get in the fortress. You did this because you knew it was the only way you would be safe. You might lose your house, you might lose your field, but at least you wouldn’t lose your life.
The Lord is our strong tower. When we run into God we are safe. No matter what the enemy tries to throw against us, God will always be our refuge. When we see the enemy coming we can choose to stand there and be defeated, or we can run into God’s protection. In their song Strong Tower, The Newsboys sing, “When the enemy surrounds us, closing in as darkness falls. Though his armies rage against us, they can never scale these walls.” So if you feel like you are up against something you can’t defeat, run into the strong tower. Just call upon the name of the Lord, and He will wrap you with His divine protection.
RIP Chris Pero
1/24/83 – 12/4/05
until next time…