A question comes to my mind as I drive north on US 23 toward my office in Circleville and see American flags flying at half-staff all the while hearing the constant flow of news and information regarding the horrific and senseless shooting in Las Vegas. A question that works its way to the forefront of my mind is the same question which I believe many are asking across our nation and around the world. The question is this… what do we do now? I cannot help but move quickly into my memories of a post 9/11 America that drew resolve and strength from our God and from each other.
So, what do we do? We first respond to God… This is America and we are Americans, and for the millions of us who turn instinctively to the God of Heaven, we find the solace, comfort and strength that is to be found nowhere else on earth. We come together in prayer, we remember the tears as we hear not only of lives lost but of the courageous acts of selfless service and sacrifice that inspire and bring hope to a hopeless moment in our history. That’s what we do now. Secondly we respond to each other… My dear friend Pastor Brad Kochis posted this incredibly insightful perspective of those who were tragically touched by this event, “Weeks, maybe months ago tickets were bought, plans were made, baby sitters committed… Wives, who needed this date with their husbands, tried on a lot of outfits, husbands were just happy to have a night out with their bride… They show up to a large open air venue, not imagining the danger of a tortured, homicidal, suicidal person waiting with hostile intentions far above them… Babysitters and grandparents put kids to bed, battling their sweet protests and telling them that Mommy and Daddy would want them to get a good night’s rest… While the kids slept, shots rang out, people fell down, panic set in, the crowd was fenced in and people continued falling… There are new widows, orphans, parents who have less children, a multitude of traumatized, and hundreds of people injured. The physical wounds and the emotional trauma will forever alter those who were present, including the first responders… The only answer I know of in this dark and messed up world is Hope, Kindness, Love… Jesus!” So we pray for them, We love and support them. That’s what we do now.
The answers to the why of all that happened this week may never be presented in such a way that brings satisfaction to everyone who asks the question. However, the answer to evil and humanity’s needs can be addressed from the scriptures. We have witnessed evil beyond description and we have observed incredible bravery and courage… and we have seen love displayed… “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” It’s really the story of mankind in a nutshell. Incredibly evil intentions that not only caused a man and woman to eat forbidden fruit but welcomed a separation from God that brought death to everyone separating a creator from his beloved creation… that’s evil. Sin always brings separation and sorrow. I’ve heard more than a few times this morning that we cannot allow the acts of a single man to define us or shape us.“ Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous.” That evil however was overcome by not only bravery and sacrifice… but by love. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
May we not dwell on the statistics, the constant flow of new updates, or the politicizing of any issue, but may we see clearly the love, heroism and sacrifice that was displayed. A husband shielding his wife from the gunfire and giving his life for her. An off-duty firefighter running back into harm’s way to suffer a gunshot wound himself. The brave police officers who quickly inserted themselves into unknown circumstances to stop a killer, inspiring a nation with their actions. There is not a political or governmental solution to this nor is there an education approach that will fix this. The heart of man is a spiritual issue and its only remedy is to be found in the creator who can fix it. May we be shaped and challenged by countless stories such as these and may we pass along to the generations that follow a call to selfless courage, dedicated acts of love and a whole-hearted trust in the God that made us! May that be what we do… NOW!
Tim Throckmorton is the former Executive Pastor of the Plymouth Heights Church of the Nazarene in Franklin Furnace Ohio and the Portsmouth First Church of the Nazarene in Franklin Furnace, Ohio. He is currently the Senior Pastor at Crossroads Church in Circleville, Ohio.