“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Today, our country grieves.
We grieve the departure of more than 50 of our brothers and sisters as they go home to God.
We grieve for the wounded.
We grieve for the families.
We grieve for the children left behind, the children taken too soon, and the children that could have been.
It is right that we grieve. It is honorable and important that we grieve. Las Vegas needs our prayerful empathy and support.
As a servant leader, your grief is taking unique form.
Because you know that God put you here to help liberate the world from grief like this. You are here to build relationships and love others.
You know that people who commit crimes like this are souls in torment. They do not know God. They do not know peace. They do not have hope.
If Stephen Paddock had known how much Jesus loved him, he would have poured forth that love, instead of pouring forth bullets.
God is love. Jesus is love. Knowing God and accepting His gift of Jesus can bring only love.
Jesus came to liberate us. Not point fingers at us.
I grieve profoundly that Stephen Paddock was not supported to find the path that filled him with acceptance, love, joy and a relationship with Jesus.
There may have been a moment in Stephen’s life that a single word could have made a difference. A moment when an invitation or a kindness or an encouragement could have made the difference.
It is too late for Stephen.
But it’s not too late for someone else.
Do you know who the next Stephen may be?
None of us does.
Which is exactly why we must assume that anyone could be.
That man who just missed his flight.
That woman whose child is screaming in the middle of Walmart.
Your eccentric mailman.
Your estranged uncle.
None of us can ever really know what others are carrying around inside them.
This is why Jesus told us to love one another.
This is why Jesus told us to serve one another.
This love was evident in this tragic event as well. I saw faces and heard stories of countless friends, fire fighters, medics, police, and strangers rushing in to carry people, compress wounds, give blood, shed tears, and speak words of comfort and hope. It was there I saw God.
‘And the Word became flesh’ (John 1:14).
The Word always comes in the flesh. Pray, give blood, reach out, speak words of hope, love your neighbor … be the Word made flesh!
One on one extension of love is the most powerful antidote to a tormented soul.
World peace will never be brought about in one fell swoop. It will always be one on one, in the trenches, through people at peace pausing in their joy long enough to light the way to souls in torment.
What invitation can you offer to a stranger today?
Pause in your joy. I know you take such delight in keeping company with our living God.
But so many are still waiting for the introduction.
The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in His love He will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.