Huge wave over old lighthouse of Porto, Portugal

I posted this on Facebook early this morning and a good friend asked me to send it through Word Press.  I guess Facebook posts get eaten by other posts pretty quickly (I’m not too savvy on these things).

I woke up at 5:00 a.m. this morning remembering a very differing April 20.

On April 20, 1999 our world changed forever. When I heard the news of the massacre at a high school just miles away, I jumped in the car to get my kids. No one slept well that night – we all ended up in a somber slumber party on the floor in my 13-year-old daughter’s bedroom. It took weeks for her to be able to sleep by herself again.

Everyday since then, children in our country have gone to school with the thought that today someone might show up at school with a gun. I never thought about that one single day in all of my school days.

As the weeks passed after the massacre, I received donations to help counsel victims of this tragedy. Whether it was a Young Life staff member waiting to meet kids in the cafeteria for lunch, a student at school during the shooting, a parent whose child was on the “hit list” of students to be killed, or the granddaughter of one of the hero teachers who was shot as he tried to rescue students; they all asked the same question? They didn’t want to know how to numb themselves and not feel; they didn’t want permission to party and alter there brains so they didn’t have to think about such inexplicable realities; they didn’t blame video games or trench coats or heavy metal music.

They asked about God? I have learned that when we face heart shattering circumstances, we can do one of two things. We can try to become our own gods – relying on our self-help, self-esteem, self-knowledge, self-indulgence; or we turn to the true and living God, acknowledging as the disciples did, “Where can we go but to you?” When everything is lost and nothing that mattered seems to matter, this is the question we were made to ask.

This is a day marked by darkness – Columbine, Hitler’s birthday (April 20, 1939), and National Pot Smoking Day. Adolph Hitler’s brilliant propaganda bureau lulled people into a nightmare by saying things like, “We demand religious liberty for all in the State, so far as they are not a danger . . . against morality and moral sense . . . . The Party, as such, stands for positive Christianity . . . .”  The proponents of 4/20 – a day to skip school or work, smoke and eat cannabis, and “chill out” with like-minded, open-minded people – have a propaganda bureau all their own. Let me say, since the legalization of marijuana I have tried it (so this is not some moral judgment – it is the testament of an addict who knows the deadly lure of mind-altering, mind-numbing experiences). It mostly made me sleepy and certainly made me numb (and stupid). We cannot be partially numb. When we are numb in one area, we are numb in all – and I don’t think that’s what this post-Columbine world needs.

We need people who are here. People who are asking, “Where is God?” People who are reminding us that, as Diane Langberg said, “This whole world is a death camp, and the enemy’s goal is our extermination.” Whether it’s all at once by a maniac government or little by little killing desire with a mind-altering substance. Today I want to practice resurrection not anesthetization.

Today, as I remember Columbine I want to be here. I want to take all that I don’t understand or can’t be explained and say, “Here, God.” I want to pray the prayer of Walter Bruggeman:

Another brutality, another school killing, another grief beyond telling . . . and loss . . . in Colorado in Wisconsin among the Amish in Virginia. Where next?
We are reduced to weeping silence, even as we breed a violent culture . . . even as we fail to live and cherish and respect the forgotten of our common life.
There is no joy among us . . . there is no breath among us . . . there is little hope among us: we pray to you only because we do not know what else to do. So we pray, move powerfully in our body politic, move us to peaceableness that does not want to hurt or to kill or to numb, move us toward justice that the troubled and the forgotten may know mercy, move us toward forgiveness that we may escape the trap of revenge.
Empower us to turn our weapons to acts of mercy, to turn our missiles to gestures of friendship, to turn our bombs to policies of reconciliation, and while we are turning, hear our sadness, our loss, our bitterness.
We dare to pray our needfulness to you because you have been there on that gray Friday, and watched your own Son be murdered for “reasons of state.”
Good God, do Easter! Here and among those families, here and in all our places of brutality.
Move our Easter grief now . . . without too much innocence – to your Sunday joy. We pray in the one crucified and risen who is our Lord and Savior. Amen (“Grieving Our Lost Children”)

“And regarding the question, friends, that has come up about what happens to those already dead and buried, we don’t want you to be in the dark any longer. First off, you must not carry on over them like people who have nothing to look forward to, as if the grave were the last word. Since Jesus died and broke loose from the grave, God will most certainly bring back to life those who died in Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14