Trying to make sense of all this

Grieving Angel via flickr
Grieving Angel via flickr

Heartbroken
Angry
Sad
Frustrated
Furious
Outraged
Confused
Afraid
Grateful
Fearful
Worried
Dumbfounded
Vengeful
Infuriated
Hateful
Heartbroken

Heartbroken

Heartbroken

If you’re like me, these words only scratch the surface of the wide range of emotions experienced in the wake of today’s tragedy.

No. Tragedy doesn’t feel like the right word. It isn’t strong enough. But it’s the best I can come up with. So it’ll have to do. And in the wake of this horrible tragedy (there’s that word again), I have a few thoughts to share. Not because I think I have anything profound to say. In fact, I think I have very little to say that’s of any value. But I also feel like I need to get these things out because…well…I just need to get them out. I pray you’ll forgive me if what I say isn’t all that refined or profound. It might not even be coherent.

We need Jesus

I have a friend who says that events like today help solidify her belief that there is no God. I certainly understand that. When you look at how broken things are and how utterly unexplainable something like this is, then I can see why you might conclude that God either doesn’t care or He doesn’t exist. I get it. I really do.

I just disagree.

The world sure feels like it’s spiraling out of control. People are broken. We’re surrounded by darkness. As a society, it feels like we’re on this bus that’s speeding towards a brick wall and we’re showing no sign of slowing down at all. I don’t think this means that there is no God or that He doesn’t care. I firmly believe this shows that the world needs a Savior. The healing, life-changing power of Jesus Christ is what this world needs.

I’m not talking about a political rule. I’m not talking about some establishment of a worldwide neo-Constantinian Christendom. I don’t think that’s the answer. This isn’t a political issue. It isn’t a gun control issue. It isn’t even a morality issue. It’s a Jesus issue.

I’m talking about a world where the Holy Spirit guides the hearts of women and men and children and the darkness is pushed back by the light. I know this won’t happen this side of the New Heaven and New Earth. But that doesn’t mean we can’t pursue that, fighting against the enemy every step of the way.

Now more than ever, the world needs a Savior. The world has a Savior. We just need to show Him to everyone.

This is why we have Christmas

Christmas isn’t about Christmas trees. It isn’t about getting together with family. It isn’t about the cookies or the candy or even the presents.

Christmas is about a world that was dark and full of broken people. Christmas is about God wrapping Himself in flesh and piercing the darkness with the light of His love as displayed in the life and ministry of Jesus. And because of that we have hope. Because of that we know there will one day be peace. Not just an absence of fighting and violence (which would be awesome), but real, true, lasting PEACE.

 Why didn’t God stop this?

I don’t know.

I really don’t.

I can’t explain why this happened, other than the fact there’s real evil and bad things happen to good people.

But here’s two thoughts that have continued to resonate in my heart and soul this afternoon and evening…

  1. When the world was falling down around King Jehoshaphat, he prayed this prayer:

    “God, we don’t know what to do. But our eyes are on You.”
    – 2 Chronicles 20:12b

    This should be our prayer every day. Especially in the midst of tragedies like today’s.

  2. I had the honor of preaching in Santa Claus, Indiana, recently. In one of the messages I shared, I said this while discussing the night that Jesus was arrested:

    The short answer is ‘Yes.’ God is in control. Why do things like this happen? I have no idea. I just…I really don’t know. I can’t claim to know because I’m not God. But here’s what I do know. God is right there, picking up the pieces alongside of us when things spiral out of control and the world feels completely dark. The Gospel of Luke gives a few more details from this story. In it, he mentions that after telling Peter to stop, Jesus touched the man’s ear and healed it. In the midst of creation’s darkest hours, Jesus was there. He was there picking up the pieces and healing someone who was part of a group that was about to kill him. God was in control then and He’s in control of things now. And He’s the One working towards bringing healing towards our broken world and our broken hearts.

A few random thoughts

  • Did I hug my kids tighter today? Of course I did. You hugged yours tighter today, too. All of us were reminded to hug our kids every day. Don’t take them for granted. We cannot take them for granted. Ever.
  • Can we be real for a moment? If I believe that Jesus died for all humanity because He “so loved the world,” then that means that the shooter is a soul that’s precious to Jesus. Jesus died for him, even though he did something monstrous and horrendous and subhuman. Don’t get me wrong. There’s a part of me that kind of likes the thought that he’s receiving punishment right now. The other part of me is disgusted with that part part of me that’s happy with this. Does that make sense? Love is supposed to win. I’m supposed to be celebrating grace. But sometimes it’s just so stinkin’ hard. Because I really don’t want to celebrate grace right now. I had a similar struggle when bin Laden was killed. Yes. I want to have my cake and eat it, too.
  • Kaitlin Roig needs to be a household name. She is a hero in the truest sense of the word. I don’t care if anyone remembers the murderer’s name. Everyone should know hers!
  • I remember when it felt like Ronald Reagan spoke directly to me after the Challenger disaster. I think President Obama did something similar today. I don’t give a lick about your political leanings. Put them aside and listen to him.

Love God. Love people. Hug your kids. Do good. I said it before and I’ll say it again. This isn’t a political issue. It isn’t a gun control issue. Those are just surface issues, in reality. This is a heart issue. So let’s push back the darkness by allowing the Light to shine even brighter through us.

Star Wars Day: Celebrate the LOVE

My Junior year of high school, I had Mr. Hughes for English Lit. He really opened my eyes to the world of literature. One of the lasting legacies of learning under him was my understanding of the art of tragedy. Mr. Hughes helped me realize that the Star Wars trilogy wasn’t really about Luke Skywalker, Chewbacca, Jawas, and Ewoks. It was really the Tragedy of Anakin Skywalker.

Now, with the coming of the Prequels, this might not be that big of a deal. Of course it’s the story of the rise, fall, and ultimate redemption of the Chosen One. But fifteen years ago, there was no Prequel. We only had the Original Trilogy. And the realization that Star Wars is about Anakin blew my mind. It revolutionized how I watched the films.

There was one class session, however, where Mr. Hughes and I had a spirited disagreement about the final scene of Return of the Jedi. He was discussing how Jedi was about Anakin’s redemption and he said, “Even at the end of the movie, they’re calling attention to Lord Vader when the choir sings, ‘Celebrate the lord,’ and the closing credits come up” (obviously, this is paraphrased).

“No they don’t,” I interrupted. “They don’t sing ‘Celebrate the lord.’ It’s ‘Celebrate the love.'”

“No. I’m pretty sure it’s lord,” he replied. Then he continued on his monologue.

You’re wrong, I thought. I know it’s love. But I could never prove it.

Five years later, I was finally able to purchase the Star Wars Anthology and it included the lyrics to the Ewok Celebration. Do you know what the final line is? That’s right…Celebrate the LOVE.

So…if anyone still talks to Mr. Hughes or if you happen to run into him in the grocery store or your local Barnes & Noble, please inform him that I was, in fact, right. I’m sure he’s been tossing and turning about it for 15+ years.

Quoth the Emperor: “Young fool, only now – at the end – do you understand.”

Or something like that.

The Ewok Celebration is something that’s near and dear to my heart. I still get goose bumps from time to time when I hear it. It doesn’t hurt that we used it as part of our Recessional at our wedding (have I mentioned recently how awesome my wife is for agreeing to that?).

I’m still disappointed that they decided to remove it from the “Special” Edition re-release back in ’97. They changed it once. I’d prefer to see them change it again. Something tells me there’s a better chance of making Han shoot first than the return of the Ewok Celebration.

But one can hope. Maybe Sir Lucas will figure out that he’ll make more money that somehow if he changes it back. But until that day, at least we’ll have Ewok Karaoke.

Massacre

Amazing.  There’s already a Wikipedia article about the Virginia Tech shootings.  My, how things have changed.

I can’t imagine being a student there and trying to somehow go to sleep tonight. I had a hard enough time going to sleep after the 9/11 attacks because my mind wouldn’t stop racing.  It would be even worse to try to sleep in a place that was supposed to be safe and secure. 

A member of the Crater Lake ’96 crew at Philmont went to school at Virginia Tech.  Last I had heard from him (about 3 years ago), he was working at Viriginia Tech.  I sure hope John is OK.

Thoughts and prayers are with the Virginia Tech community as they begin to somehow make sense of all of this…

“C-130 going down…”

C-130 Plane Crash in Evansville Indiana Drury Inn
Image via Evansville Courier & Press

February 6, 1992. 9:48 a.m.

I remember where I was when I heard the news fifteen years ago. I was sitting in World History with Mrs. Mautz when the announcement came over the intercom. They said a plane had crashed on the North Side on Highway 41.

That’s all they said.

It worried me. I have family that lives on the North side. I had visions of a plane falling out of the sky and landing on top of my aunt’s car on the hightway. I knew the odds were against such a thing happening, but what are the odds of another plane crashing in Evansville?

Of course, the plane didn’t fall on my aunt’s car. It didn’t hit the highway at all. A C-130 Hercules was doing some type of training maneuvers and crashed into JoJo’s and the Drury Inn instead. Sixteen people died in the fiery wreckage. I especially remember hearing stories about a waitress at JoJo’s that died in the crash.  It was a very sad thing.

I had never eaten at JoJo’s.  I’ve eaten there several times since they rebuilt.  They have a plaque hanging inside memorializing the waitress and others who died in the crash.  It’s a little eerie thinking that your’re sitting in the very spot where an airplane had once blown up.

But then again, it happened fifteen years ago.

We are…Evansville

Every time I see the trailer for We are Marshall, I wonder how people who lived through the UE plane crash (yesterday was the 29th anniversary of the crash) will receive the movie. Will more people go watch it in Evansville, or will it fade away like so many other movies that have a lot of pre-release hype?

It seems to me it would cause an increase of stories about a town that experienced a similar tragedy just a few years after Marshall’s.

To date, I’ve only found one article.

I’m just curious if there’s going to be any more discussion or news stories or attention given to the UE tragedy.