As the news came across about the Las Vegas shooting, I was smack in the middle of a morning bible study with twelve high school freshman girls. One of them read out the headline, as I sat frozen.
We are on chapter 7 of Lisa TerKeurst’s book Uninvited, the chapter entitled, “When Our Normal Gets Snatched.” I wanted to have so many reflective and inspiring words for them in that moment. I wanted to tell them about the thoughts running through my mind as the tears that were shallow below the surface of my eyes would surely begin to flow. But I couldn’t. I didn’t know where to start. The news was so fresh. The wounds were very much open. The violence was incredibly real. So I continued on about the story of Abigail and Nabal, pushing my unsettledness aside for a moment that wasn’t mine to set aside.
That night I dove further into the articles and recounts of the event and the responses from politicians, celebrities and news anchors. I mistakenly watched a video of an eye witness account on YouTube. A video that has been watched over 1.2 million times, and one some of my fifteen year old small group girls may have already viewed.
So while I didn’t have words on Monday morning, I want to share them with you now. I will never have perfect words. But I want to try my best to share my heart.
This past week we have been talking about getting our normal snatched. Getting what seems like a routine based life taken out from under us. Our minds racing and trying to grasp on for a snippet of truth but not really being able to hold onto it and come up for air. We used to be able to relate to the feeling when someone close would disappoint us, or if we didn’t get the grade we thought we deserved and worked hard to achieve. On a larger scale, we could relate if we went through an unfortunate incident of getting our wallet stolen, or getting into a bad car accident. But now we’re looking at the world around us and not knowing what is safe. Or what is real. Normal is getting snatched on a tremendous scale. Vehicles are being driven into pedestrian areas. Bombs are going off. Activities that are made for community and enjoyment like a concert are being riddled with bullets and stricken with fear. Each new headline reads with more deaths and a new statistic, and it comes to our palms within minutes.
So this is me telling you that I refuse to let this be your normal. I refuse to let you think that one person can inflict the kind of fear that keeps you looking over your shoulder. And I refuse to let you think that this is what our Creator wants for you.
The truth is that the world is a severely broken place. Unfortunately this is not breaking news, we just now happen to see every occurrence of it. When God created the world He created it as a good and complete place – a place that has beauty, perfection and order. But when sin entered the world in Genesis 3, it became broken – a place that held chaos, temptation and hate. God didn’t create us to live in this world.
Why do we know that events like Las Vegas don’t belong? Why do we feel such pain when terror impedes our newsfeed? Why do we have moments where we close our eyes and hope that all of this turmoil will come to an end?
Because we were made for more.
Do you ever have dreams that are filled with things that don’t exist here on Earth? Why do you think that is? I distinctly remember a dream of walking through a forest filled with the trees taller and wider than Redwoods. It was dark, but the darkness sparkled with each movement of my feet. And even though I was walking, I was under the clearest blue water making my way down a lit path toward something very known. I will never be able to describe the beauty that was so very present in that dream. I woke up in tears, and truly felt like God had given me a garden glimpse – a taste of the wonderful that is to come.
“What no eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no human heart has conceived – God has prepared these things for those who love Him.” -1 Corinthians 2:9
Are you ever dissatisfied with anything? A meal? A vacation? Another human being? Why do we experience dissatisfaction if we have nothing else in which to compare that feeling? If we have been dissatisfied with this world our entire lives, why do we continue to expect anything different but disappointment?
Because the things of this world were never meant to satisfy. You were made with a longing for something more. God placed it on your heart, and it will never, ever go away.
“If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.” -C.S. Lewis
But in a way, isn’t that completely calming? To know that this world isn’t all that your life holds? If it was, I’m not sure how I would deal with the status of it today. Our surroundings are full of brokenness – people, events, everything. I know it because God didn’t create me to like what is happening. He’s okay with me looking up at Him and saying, “Umm…I’m not cool with any of this,” because He already knows it. Nothing that is happening reflects on the perfection that awaits us. No person’s brokenness reflects the goodness of our God.
We have an enemy. And while it’s not guns, one group of people, or a tragic occurrence, it is very real. We can choose to listen to God or fall into the darkness of the enemy, and the choice is ours alone. “It is time to keep on loving where others have stopped, to let our love for one another grow deep enough to drown sin and hurt and hate.” –She Reads Truth
It just takes recognizing who you are, as well as what you were made for. “John Calvin, the sixteenth century Protestant Reformer, claimed that the image of God remains on our souls; yet because we have so corrupted the image by sin, it is hard to recognize it in us. In silent moments, though, there is still enough of the image left for us to realize that we thirst for something.”
-Sacred Thirst by Craig Barnes
So I’m here to tell you that yes, what seems normal to you has been snatched. Over and over and over again. But this is not the normal for which you were created. God is ready and willing to hold you in His arms and give you glimpses of your eternity. Your time here on earth is so very short compared to the forever you will have with Him.
This morning, Ron and I went for a walk to breakfast and then sat on our church steps for a while. We talked about this week and the tragedy of Las Vegas. We prayed for the people that were involved and their families. We prayed for the world that surrounds us. We talked about what we have seen over the past few years – including the shooting inside of a Charleston church. We looked at each other, wondering out loud if we ever experience moments of fear during Sunday worship. What we would do if that ever happened to us. It didn’t take long for our eyes to meet again, and we smiled. Because we both know if that was the day we met our Creator, what a way to go – singing His praises. And we will continue to do so for all of our days until we are called home.
“..do not fear what they fear or be intimidated, but in your hearts regard Christ as Lord..” -1 Peter 3:14
I realize that I am speaking now more than I ever have about my faith. But as I look around me, I am anxious for light. I crave to be surrounded by the truth and His love in all of this. While within this space, there aren’t many that will share their heart, I ask for those that have the courage, to do so. Be the light that we all so desperately need.
This is what matters. And this changes everything.