When the school shootings in Newtown, Connecticut happened, my kids were worried. I told them how infrequently these types of horrific crimes are committed. I showed them statistics and explained that the chances of anything like that happening where they live are slim to none.
It seems as though the odds are not in our favor.
I’m not sure how much national attention the recent shootings in New York got, but they hit too close to home for my liking, far too close.
In case you haven’t heard, one man torched the house he lived in and then went on a bit of a shooting spree. He shot four men in the Barber Shop, two died. Then he got into his Jeep and drove a short way to the car wash where he shot and killed two more men. After searching for him with helicopters and many feet on the street, the police located him. He eventually took shelter in an old building in the middle of town. That is where he stayed all night. Law enforcement had him surrounded and the police stormed the building the next morning.
That is my very condensed version without any real facts. Reporters from all over New York took care of reporting the facts. You don’t need to hear them again from me.
As a precaution the schools were on lockdown, along with all other public places.
My daughter had no idea what was going on until I picked her up. In her very dramatic way, with arms flailing and voice rising to the ceiling, she said “What in the world is going on!”
Of course they didn’t tell the elementary students, but she new this was no drill or false alarm. She sensed something bad was happening.
My son knew. The junior and high school kids know everything. If you have a child that age, you realize they know it all, or at least they think they do.
He said that when they heard the news, one of his classmates said, “They just killed my favorite barber.”
Those victims were real people, their lives snuffed out in an instant.
It’s all so senseless, so tragic.
This horror story has made me think. I’ve been thinking about how we have choices in life, how the decisions we make matter, and how our lives touch so many. We never really know the influence we may or may not be having over another individual.
The future is a mystery to us. Time is in God’s hands.
The shooter attended a men’s breakfast that my husband preached at. He was in the same room with my husband, eating among the same small group of men. He heard Bible once upon a time. He heard how Jesus loved him and how the perfect Son of God gave His life for him, while he was yet a sinner.
Our choices matter so much.
As believers, we have a responsibility to obey God, to draw nigh to Him, to be still and listen for His voice. We do not know the long-term implications of our obedience or disobedience. We don’t know the lives we may be impacting.
As humans, our actions, behaviors, and thoughts do not simply affect us. They change this little world we live in.
I think “What if”. I know it’s pointless; no amount of wondering can bring back four men, but what if that shooter had allowed himself to receive grace. What if his life was wholly transformed. What if he was touched by the Healer, the one who mends broken hearts and makes shattered lives become new.
That’s what grace can do.
There’s no rewriting history, but there is today and the hope of tomorrow.
The decisions you make matter. The opportunities you have are important. The still small voice of an Almighty God nudging you to reach out to someone may literally rewrite history.
We just don’t know.
It’s been a long week. I am tired, and I am not counting on the odds to always be in my favor; however, I am leaning on the one who understands and loves and cares about our messed up world.
The first question people ask in light of a tragedy is where was God? Why did He allow this happen?? He could have stopped the shooter, all the shooters.
And He could have. He has that kind of power. He could have called ten thousand angels when he was hanging on a cross, spilling innocent blood to cover your sin and mine.
We are not pawns in a heavenly game of chess. God loved us enough to give us freedom of will, of heart and mind. He doesn’t make us love Him or serve Him or do right.
He loves and forgives, and He welcomes us with open arms. He heals hearts and restores minds. God gives new life.
He grieves with us.
I’m not wondering where the next shooting will be and I’m not thinking about copycat crimes. I am contemplating the lives I am going to touch today, and tomorrow, and the next. I am thinking about how important your life is and how much I value my own. I am trying to be still and know God, so I can hear his voice and make a difference in this sin sickened world.