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Love Your Enemies

You can listen to this week’s Devotional here

Author: Nancy Wade

You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven, for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. Matthew 5:43-45, NRV

Love your enemies. Do great to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who mistreat you. Tattoo on the arm of Alexa Bartell

It should not have been a dangerous journey. The young woman traveling in her small yellow car was talking with a friend on the phone. It was not quite 11:00 p.m. Suddenly and without warning, the phone went silent. After a while, the friend tracked the traveler’s cell phone and drove to the site, finding the young woman dead behind the steering wheel.

By now, most of us have heard the recent news story of drivers being targeted by someone hurling large landscape rocks through random windshields between Boulder and Arvada. When I first heard about the untimely death of Alexa Bartell, my first thought was, “I know exactly where that happened.” The roads where at least four separate incidents took place are the roads I often travel to visit family and friends in Arvada and Golden. Highway 93 and Indiana Street are both narrow, rutted, north-south roads with one lane in each direction. Highway 128, which connects the two, is easier to drive, but remote and less traveled just the same. My other thought was, “The perpetrators must be teenagers who haven’t thought through the consequences of their actions.”

The story of Alexa Bartell’s death is a tragic one. She did not have to die by the side of the road. She was only 20 years old with friends and family who loved her, a young woman who had her whole life ahead of her. In news reports, she was described by her cousin as a “confident, compassionate and caring person.” The tattoo she wore speaks volumes about the kind of person she was. She got Jesus. She understood compassion. She knew the intrinsic value of forgiveness.

Three 18-year-olds were arrested a few weeks after Alexa’s death, tracked down thanks to cell phone data and tips called in to law enforcement. Apparently, a 20-year-old friend of the trio who was with them when they stole landscaping rocks from a local business, told them, “Nothing good can come from this,” and asked to be taken home. One of the three teens purportedly said he likes to “create chaos” wherever he goes. After Alexa was struck by a large boulder, her car veered off the road into a field. The teens, one of whom threw that rock, decided to return to the scene to take a photo of the damaged car as a “trophy” of sorts. Their logic defies understanding. This is a morality play of incalculable dimensions.

Three young men with nothing better to do than to heave large rocks through car windshields and side windows have been arrested and charged with 13 counts including first degree murder with extreme indifference. It is probable that they will spend the rest of their lives in prison. Four families shattered and for what?

Alexa Bartell had no way of knowing that her life would end that night. She was, by all accounts, a kind and compassionate individual who believed in the importance of forgiveness and the value of caring for those around her. She understood the message of Jesus when he said, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”

Holy one, May we strive to be more like Alexa. Let us learn to love and yes, to forgive, our enemies. Amen




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