Not many hours have gone by in the last five days, where my wife and I haven’t thought about and talked about the events that transpired in Newtown Connecticut last Friday.
There are few words to offer when I really reflect on this tragedy. The murderous act is heinous, and delves into the deepest pit of humanity’s ugliness. The outpouring of a nation’s love is enormous and shows a small, but strong, gleaming hope for those in the darkness of suffering. But that hope seems like a small token in light of the heavy loss of such precious lives. What are we to do?
While the social and political debates will rage on about guns, mental illness and government intervention I have spent some time searching my own heart and mind for lessons. Why it takes events like this to shake me up I will never fully understand, but in light of this tragedy, here are four take-a-ways for Overboard Living.
- Life is a gift from God — use it because you will lose it. The sickness that permeates this world isn’t mental illness or gun abuse (and both of those are tragedies in their own rights). The sickness that runs in this world is caused by sin — humanity’s desire to live apart from God’s design. As a result, all of us will come face to face with our own mortality; death is inevitable. When tragedy strikes such young lives, we ache at the life that wasn’t allowed to be lived out. This horrific event is a reminder that we only have one life to live before we meet our Creator and Maker. There are no guarantees of longevity or safety, only the reality that your life on earth will come to an end. Are you living in a way that maximizes your time?
- The world needs people to step in the gap. While the president’s visit was touching and hope-giving in the moment, I promise you that the people of Newtown will most remember those who came when the pain began. They will remember the first responders who walked through the crime scene, and wept over the life-less bodies of little children and honorable men and women, while performing their duties as employees of the city. They will remember the pastors who came to pray, the neighbors who brought food, the friends who sat in silence and shed tears along with them. They will remember the people who delivered much needed groceries, who helped pick up and drop off the other kids, and they will remember the ones who just came and held hands, saying nothing. There is a lot of hurt and brokenness in this world, and people need others to stand in the gap when tragedy strikes.
- Character develops day by day, but emerges in key moments. The stories of teachers who hid their kids, died protecting their students and who tried to stop their assailant are amazing. They are reminders that our character develops day by day, with each decision we make, and with each choice. There are no shortcuts to having strong character — it builds every time we make the right choice in the small stuff. If you want to be the right person in the right place at the right time, you must develop that character today. Character will not be created in the moment of need, it will simply be revealed that it already resided in you.
- A broken world needs a Savior: The brokenness of our world will not be healed by lawmakers, Presidents or strong communities. The only healing that can come will begin when people hand their hearts over to God and allow Him to change them from the inside out. Are you telling others about Jesus? Is the message of hope being shared from your lips?
I will continue to pray for the families, school and community in Newtown. I’m sure I will continue to be sickened by the pain of loss those families have experienced. I can’t imagine how much ache I’d feel if my seven year old Celina was the body being covered on national TV. But as I move forward, as we move forward as a nation, I hope we will reflect on the frailty of life, the need for people to stand in the gap and show their true character, and for a broken world to turn to a healing Savior.
The Overboard Life demands an eternal perspective, one that often miss in the day-to-day grind of making ends meet, and hustling for deadlines. I know life is better on the water, but taking the plunge is rarely easy.
May God’s peace come to Newtown. May we all embrace His perspective each and every day.