An unborn child and a mother lie connected in the grave. A toddler’s bed lined with sheets that go unfilled. A pastor’s dreams for his daughter – stolen.

Do we feel their pain?

A season of goodwill should be budding; ready to burst forth in all its beauty but a dam holds it back. A dam of hatred toward those who think, act, and believe differently. A dam of fear that life is somehow ruined because they exist in it. A dam of anger deeply rooted in perceived wrongs.

Like a vulture, silence circles above homes where laughter should be heard. And this Thanksgiving, too many seats will be empty. The remaining congregation at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs Texas will undoubtedly see them.

Do we?

They are everywhere. In passing cars and coffee shops. In our schools and doctor’s offices. Even the seats that are filled likely hold someone feeling the weight of someone’s empty seat.

Do we notice? Do we weep with them? Maybe their anger stifles their cry. Maybe they are in their own pit of despair contemplating the next mass shooting.

There is a time to live; a time to die and the line that separates these two is dangerously thin.

One moment.

One phone call.

One gun shot away.

Are we ready?

Persecution isn’t coming to America, beloved, it’s here. Are we really ready?

If I’m being completely honest and if I’m not careful, the same dam of hatred, fear, and anger that holds back the goodwill of others, can easily stop its flow in me.

How do we make sense of senselessness?

How do we prepare to expect something that is completely unexpected?

How do we love like Christ is the midst of it all?

How do we notice and feel the weight of the empty chairs and still keep going?

God of all comfort,

With great purpose and unwavering passion, help us to live out our callings. Open our eyes to those around us and make us to feel their pain that we may come to you on their behalf. When pain and discomfort meets our lives of ease, remind us that you hold all things together. Grant to us the courage to boldly proclaim your name in spite of our existence in a world that is disdainful toward Christians. You warned us Lord in your word. Repeatedly. Give us ears to hear and hearts that are brave enough to seek you with every fiber of our beings. Please hold closely those in our country who have been so deeply affected by so many senseless killings. Draw them to yourself. May they find you in their pain.

With my whole heart,


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8 Replies to “THE EMPTY SEATS”

  1. This is exactly what we need to do. Keep seeking Him, the healer of all hurts…by His stripes we are healed. Then He will bring opportunities to love and comfort and pray with others who are hurting. Lord, help me to be aware of the pain are hurt all around and to make a difference with your love. – Amy

  2. Great article. The current state of things is very concerning. It’s only hate, hate and more hate. I am white and my husband is black. It’s not fair that i have to worry about his safety if he were to be pulled over by police. It’s not fair that my daughter may be looked down upon because of her mixed race. We as a country have to come together as one people under God. I pray daily for peace and understanding by everyone.

  3. God never steps out of our presence. We are the ones who widen the gap between us and Him instead of thinning it. Any time we make a step out, we give room for evil thoughts which breed sin. Without God, we create a vacuum which could be filled by anything. We can’t live without food, neither can we live without Christ.

  4. Beautiful writing Callie and so true! It’s a time where our love must truly cover a multitude of sins… Thank you for sharing your heart and truth on this. Looking forward to reading more!

  5. Beautiful writing.. And how true is that? “There is a time to live; a time to die and the line that separates these two is dangerously thin.” Something I don’t think we think about enough..