The evening news blared in the background as we waited for our pizza to arrive. The kids eyes were glued to the television as images of yellow tape and the police sirens flashed in the background.
“Mom, what is going on? What are they talking about?”
“It’s about something really sad and bad that happened. Someone got killed. The news is full of so many sad and bad news like this. It is one thing after another.” I said.
“Mom, why do they only share bad news? Why not good news?” My five year old daughter asked.
“That’s a good question, but it’s kind of complicated. But, it would be nice if they shared some good news too, wouldn’t it?” I replied.
“Yeah. Well mom, why don’t you do something about it!” My five year old challenged me.
That challenge given to me over a year ago still rings in my ears today.
I haven’t done anything about it yet. But, perhaps, this blog post is my attempt to do something about it.
Since the Las Vegas massacre, I have been intentionally avoiding articles about Stephen Paddock. Instead, I’ve been focusing more on learning about the people who died, especially reading about those who sacrificed their own lives to save others. Each morning, I have been reading or watching news clips highlighting something about those who tragically lost their lives. I would just let the tears fall. I mourn with the sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, friends and family members who are in deep grief over the loss of their loved ones. My heart aches thinking about their loss.
In midst of this senseless tragedy, stories of amazing courage, sacrificial love, and care for strangers started to emerge. I read about people who laid on top of spouses and children, sacrificing their lives so that their loved ones could live. The courage of strangers who willingly took bullets while trying fervently to rescue others has been so humbling to read about. Brothers who died for their sisters. Others who would not leave the sides of dying strangers and friends. The stories of good that shone in midst of chaos have been impacting me in a deep way.
Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13)
There are a lot of things that are not right about our world. Lots of things.
But, in midst of lots of things that are horribly wrong, I have a choice to make.
I can flee and focus on trying to preserve my own life, or I can choose love and think of others. It sounds like a doable act, but is it? Would I be able to do that for a friend, a stranger, at the cost of my own life? Would I take that risk at the cost of my own children losing their mom? How about at the cost of my husband losing a wife? I am not sure.
Perhaps this is why Jesus said, “greater love has no one than this, that one lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” There is no greater love than giving up your own right to live for another’s sake.
We all want to know why this happened, what the motives were, and who Stephen Paddock is, because we want and need it to all make sense. Even as I write, I am still wrestling with the senselessness of this act of violence. There is a lot of speculation about the gunman, and I suspect this will continue for some time.
But I still have a choice to make each day, and it is not an easy one.
I probably won’t have a chance at life threatening heroism today, but will I love others? I may not have the chance to literally lay down my life, but will I be willing to lay down my my right to be right, my right to preserve my status, my right to happiness, or my right to freedom so that I can treat others with the dignity that they deserve? Will I be willing to give something I have so that someone in need might have enough, might have an opportunity, might be happy, or might be free? These are choices we make every day.
I have a long way to go in regards to love. I really do….
Maybe my daughter will be proud of me today for trying, but this is my attempt at bringing attention to what is good. It will not make the headline news, but I pray that it will encourage you to choose love above your own self preservation.
For there is nothing greater, stronger, and more life giving than sacrificial love.
As a follower of Jesus, this kind of radical love is the new way of love that we are called to live.
Jesus said, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35)
Many people talk about love. But, to love as Jesus loved, by laying down his life for his friends (and enemies), it is costly. But, this kind of love is so radical, so different that it is what will mark us as Jesus’ disciples. It is a high call. As my eldest son exclaimed one day after reading the Bible passage about loving our enemies, “Mom, this is impossible to do!” It was an honest answer. Instead of trying to pretend that I know how to love like Jesus did, I am challenged to take a step back and to honestly evaluate my definition and way of love. I am asking again for Jesus to teach me to love like He did
Today, I am grateful for the example of love of those who laid down their lives for their friends, family, and strangers in Las Vegas. Their stories have stirred my soul and my spirit to examine the areas in my life where love is waning. I am challenged in my heart to pursue radical love again.
I honor all those who gave up and who were willing to give up their lives for their friends, family, and strangers. Your love will be remembered.