School Shootings, Car Bombings, and Cross-Bearing

roberts_note2.gifI see the news before most people in my city.  Because I’m a newspaper courier with the Denver Post and the Rocky Mountain News, my eyes look over the headlines usually by 3 AM every day.  The last several days have not been fun reading.

First, I read about a veteran undercover police officer who was randomly gunned down at an intersection here in Denver.  Then, I was saddened to read about the execution of a 16-year-old girl named Emily at a school shooting in Bailey, about an hour from where I live.  As a proud Republican, I was distressed to learn about the resignation of Rep. Mark Foley and his infatuation with homosexuality and young boys.  Then, this morning I read about Naomi, Anna, Marian, Mary and Lina–five little girls who died as a result of the shootings in Paradise, PA, a town I frequently stopped in during my excursions into “Amish country” while in seminary.

I feel a little bit today like I did another Fall morning in 2001 after another series of compounding horrors.  I feel saddened, deeply saddened.  I’m sure my countenance reflects it.  The only difference between this day and that day is that today I have no compelling desire to stay tuned to the news stories surrounding these events.  I suppose I am afraid that other, new tragedies will deepen my spiral of sorrow.

On one hand, people die.  Many people die…every day.  In the United States, more people die of natural causes on a daily basis than the tragic loss of life on 9/11/01.  But something else makes these type of events more heart-felt.  Why is it so personal?  I didn’t have any relatives in the World Trade Center, but I have 4 children in school.  It’s not the loss of life that saddens me.  It’s the loss of innocent life–at least that’s what we call it.

There is no life, no one, that is truly innocent, except the little ones whom God calls innocent in His Word–the ones who have not committed acts of sin as of yet in their young lives.  Don’t the rest of though, all of us willfully sinful beings, deserve the consequences of sin, whether of not we are involved in the crime of the moment?  I deserve death as much as Emily Keyes did.  We both sinned; we both will die.  The timing of that event belongs to the all-knowing and sovereign God.

Jesus spoke directly to this issue in Luke 13 when He addressed the slaughter of the Galileans under Pilate and the falling tower in Siloam which killed 18 people.  Jesus asked whether or not those people were more sinful than those who remained alive, because their lives were snuffed out by tragedy.  He then answered His own question with the definitively divine answer “except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.”

That passage came to mind again this morning as I talked with our seniors about the brevity of life and deceitfulness of sin.  These events make me saddened, but what they really should do is awaken my spiritual mind that (1) people need the Lord and yet (2) I too need the Lord.  People without Christ, who have not repented of sin, will die and spend eternity apart from God.  They must be reached.  It is an urgent commission for all ambassadors of Jesus Christ. 

But I, too, need the Lord.  When my affections are locked onto the affairs of this life, whether through the emotions of sadness or rage, I am not seeing the big picture.  I am only dwelling on the depravity, not delighting in Deity.  The very sin on which I am too often fixated deceives me just as it does the shooter in the classroom or the politician in the nation’s Capitol.

The fear of Lord is to hate evil.  The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.  The fear of the Lord is clean.  The fear of the Lord is strong confidence.  The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life.  The fear of the Lord is my treasure.

Fearing the Lord–this should be our focus in times of national or personal tragedy.  God give us the strength to focus on what is truly important: to be absorbed with the Almighty, not hooked on my heartache.  Yes, we must comfort.  Yes, we must evangelize.  Yes, we must instruct.  But before all of that, we must worship.  This is what is demanded of the cross-bearers.  We take up our crosses, we say no to ourselves and we follow Christ.

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Heartfelt and good. Nice post.

    Reply

  2. […] Brian McCrorie’s reflections on the Amish school shooting tragedy […]

    Reply

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