Another shooting today. At last count 13 were dead, including the gunmen. I’m saddened to hear this news, and yet if I’m honest, have I grown hardened to every sensational act of violence I hear reported in the news? Liza told me about it this morning but I didn’t even turn on the news to find out more. When was the last time you thought about the Boston bombing? Or the Fort Hood shooting? Or Columbine? Or the Colorado movie theater shooting? Until today? I suppose with the anniversary of 9/11, perhaps this time of year does cause us to pause more.
I had my Every Day with Chick-fil-A today, cleaned the house, worked on the blog, fed and played with my son, trying to teach him the difference between elephants and giraffes with absolutely zero feedback from the little guy, and yet 13 families (and potentially more) are now getting ready for the rest of their lives without a loved one in it. And what have I done about it? What can I do about it?
I know that for the Christian, prayer counts, and yet, I didn’t even do that yet for these families. Mondays are a busy day for us work-wise, we had an extra project due today, I’m still adjusting to the schedule of having a child, but of course all of those are just plain excuses. I’m telling you, nothing saps away one’s spiritual vigor than the every day mundane. The common, unexciting, rituals of life – these things we do almost blindly, as bundles of nerves and instincts – they reflex us into survival mode, moving us to mindlessly eschew thoughtful engagement of the unseen; the unseen motivations, meanings, and purposes of life which actually make today’s act of violence have any relevance or importance. And that’s just terrible. It’s terrible that my “survival mode” with a new child in the house elicited a rousing raised-eyebrows and a “Oh really?” response when I heard about the news this morning.
Don’t think I’m trying to play the martyr or being too hard on myself. I’ve been called to live a life of cognizant meaning and purpose, intentional about the way I view others and interact with them. The Scriptures tell me that prayer changes things, and while I admit to having no idea how that works with a sovereign, omnipotent God, He’s asked me to do it. And what better moment to pray than for these 13 families whose lives are forever altered because of one man’s decision?
But it doesn’t stop there. What about the families of those facing unlawful persecution both here and around the globe? What about the families being gassed by Syria’s dictator, Christians getting hacked to death by Boko Haram in Nigeria, dissidents in China being punished in “reeducation camps” for simply believing in a way different than the government? What about the collateral damage of drone strikes financed by my tax dollars and committed by the government under whose authority I exist? It goes on and on and on….
I then I think about this little guy:
All he cares about is putting things in his mouth, regardless of their edibility. And that’s when it hit me today that the prayers I typically direct towards others in the world have been directed at him. I find myself praying for him all the time. Praying that he would grow up to know Jesus. Praying that would develop physically and emotionally. Praying that he would know how much I love him, and how much we did to bring him into our family. Praying that he’ll attach to us. Praying that he won’t feel like an outcast. Praying that he won’t care he’s a different color than mom or dad. Praying that one day he’ll forgive his birth parents for abandoning him.
And crying. I do a lot of crying. Tears of joy, but crying nonetheless. Watching him experience something for the first time, or seeing him realize he’s capable of repeating something, or watching him realize that my eyes are fixed on him even though he’s been in his own 11 month old world for the past five minutes – these things bring tears to this dada’s eyes.
And prayers. Prayers of thanks, prayers of petition, prayers of supplication, and prayers of praise. Today’s massacre is tragic. The politicians will argue and posture about gun laws, all in hopes of making more money and getting reelected, as if guns had anything to do with anything. “The heart is above wicked and deceitful – who can know it?” If man wasn’t wretchedly hell bent on himself, guns wouldn’t ever have needed to be invented, nor laws for man’s proper use of them by which he must abide.
We all die. We have 80, 90 years max, most of us. In comparison with the supposed billions of years the universe has existed? What really, then, is the point? Unless we’re grounded in the Reality of who Jesus Christ claimed to be, I can’t make much sense of any of it.
Welp, for the record, I did go to Chick-fil-A today, and here’s my picture to prove it. Justin made the best Mocha Cookies & Cream Milk shake I’ve had yet, so thank you my brother! (There is a secret to getting the perfect thickness to the shake.)