This tree, which grows beside Tim's church, bloomed on the day his death was confirmed.
Under God’s wings
Sunday the 12th of May was Mothers’ Day. It was also the Sunday on which the location and circumstance of Tim Bosma was unknown. That day prayers and petitions from churches far and wide went up to the Lord: Please, bring Tim home. Please, let him be safe. Lord, have mercy.
On that Sunday my preaching text was Psalm 91. Months earlier I and the worship team decided to have it be the focus for Mothers’ Day Sunday because it powerfully depicts God’s care and defense of his children, comparing God to a fiercely protective hen and us to chicks in absolute need of divine shielding from the enemy.
3 Surely he will save you
from the fowler’s snare
and from the deadly pestilence.
4 He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
As we read those verses together, I knew that few would be thinking about their mothers at that moment. Instead, people were thinking about Tim. And they were wondering: are these words true? Is the Lord fiercely protecting him today? Is Tim secure under God’s wings? After a few moments, people probably started to wonder about some other questions: are these words true for my daughter with cancer? Are they true for my dad falling into the shadowy world of dementia? Are they true for me, with my struggles and fears?
To find answers to these hard but important questions, we as congregation tried to understand God’s pain as the world long ago slipped from wholeness to brokenness. We struggled to imagine God’s wounded heart as he saw evils and atrocities being committed against his creation and against his people.
The fierce determination of Jesus as he set his face toward Calvary, and on the way enduring betrayal, denial, taunts and torture, points us to gospel truth. Salvation is not escape from the attacks of evil, but rather confident hope in the Lord’s victory that lies beyond those attacks. Beyond cancer, beyond Alzheimer’s Disease, beyond violent assaults, even beyond murder most foul, stands the God who makes everything new. The Lord of resurrection and the Guarantor of eternal life. The One who with all his power and fierce determination hangs on to his people and shows them the full extent of his love.
Our Lord never abandoned Tim Bosma. Tim is still under the cover of the wings of his God. Nor has our Lord abandoned us in our sorrow and pain at Tim’s death. We also can experience the sanctuary of the Lord’s protection and peace, even as we walk through this dark valley.
1 Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”
Rev. Bruce Adema is Pastor of Bethel CRC in Waterdown, Ont.
The hard work of hope
There are three essential Christian virtues: faith, hope and love. A short catechism frequently quoted by the Apostle in his writings . . . the greatest is love, we’re told, and the hardest is hope. We grow weary and lose heart in the face of evil’s wretched work. What we see with our eyes, touch with our hands, feel in our bodies — these we have an easier time believing than a promise we hear with our ears. So we rage against the demonic darkness that has robbed us all of a life of promise, a husband, a son, brother and more.
The promises of God are to be music to our ears . . . but some days, the music is hard to hear because of the throbbing sorrow pounding in our spirit’s ear. The evidence of a life cut short drowns out the sweetness of what could have been, what should have been. Hope has to do with “seeing” something in the future to live towards; hope is the vision of a good day coming; it
energizes the spirit. But it’s hard to “see” hope when one cannot even pay attention to the here and now — the heart is in shock.
But there will come a time, perhaps in the not-too-distant future, when the heart will be lifted a little. We’ll catch ourselves smiling at the laughter of a child; we’ll notice the magnolia in bloom and marvel at its beauty; we’ll step out of our grief for a moment and listen for the still,
small sounds of life’s promise — that life is still good. God is still good. The music of his promises begins to be heard — it’s an act of faith. Faith believes there is a music to the spheres that the heart can hear, if it is stilled. Hope is the decision to dance again to that music. Hope is a decision, a decision of the heart to live, to “dance” to God’s promises of life in the face of grievous sorrow.
Hope dances to what you will decide to hear and pay attention to . . . and that’s work, hard work. . . to decide to look at the good things and refrain from being obsessed by how we’ve been robbed.
Where there’s life, there’s hope. Faith hears the music of God’s life-filled promises; hope begins to dance to that music; and once again love will say, “Come dance with me to the music of God’s promise.”
We may dance haltingly, with a limp, unsure of our step . . . but we’ve begun to live again and joy will return.
Rev. Bernie De Jonge is retired, now serving as a volunteer Support Pastor at New Life CRC in Guelph, Ont. He returned to Ancaster CRC to perform Tim and Sharlene’s wedding in 2010.
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The Bosma family, their church community and a vast, sympathetic cross-section of the wider public agonized through eight days of heartsick worry as police searched for Tim Bosma, a young father abducted f rom his home in Ancaster, Ont. The evening of May 6th he took ...