Saturday, July 21, 2012

It was a dark and scary night

Plans change.

I planned to review a novel today, Titanic: Legacy of Betrayal. Instead, a new tragedy pulls my attention—and the nation’s—to Aurora, Colorado, where twelve people lost their lives during Thursday’s midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises.

Movie-goers didn’t plan for a real dark knight to walk into the theater in SWAT-like protective gear, stun them all with a gas grenade, and start picking them off like characters in a video game.

Television news channels here in Colorado are still flooding the airwaves with updates of the massacre including comments from traumatized witnesses, grieving loved ones, and stunned reporters. It feels like the 1999 mass murder at Columbine High School all over again.

Plans changed for a lot of people.

Just as they did on the Titanic. Though not a premeditated massacre like today’s newsmaker, the ship’s tragic sinking took the lives of more than 1,500 people who had different plans.

How many of them had planned for eternity?

One of the most moving incidents in the Titanic novel (that I will review at a later date) is the true account of Rev. John Harper who swam through the icy waters asking struggling survivors if they were “saved.”  Giving his life preserver to a man who said no, he added, “Here, then, you need this more than I do …” Harper succumbed to the chilling waters, but the man with his life jacket lived.

Has anyone noticed that the world is not getting better, that the ship could be going down?

Has anyone noticed that God’s offer of forgiveness and rescue through Jesus still stands?

As we mourn this recent, senseless death of so many in Aurora, I encourage you to pray for the families of those who died, for the other 59 people shot, and for countless others who were traumatized.

But I also encourage you to review your plans. Make sure they will withstand the call of eternity. Make sure they reach farther into the future than midnight.

I would love to hear your thoughts on the matter. Please leave a comment on my blog at

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Going it alone - or not.

The first morning I saw the white-haired couple on the Riverwalk, I nearly stared. Not because of their hair color, but because of their unified presence.

The woman wore a thin clear tube around her head from her nose to a portable oxygen canister. Her male companion wore the canister.

He also held the woman’s hand, walking in step with her so the hose was never stretched or crimped. In his other hand he held a red-tipped white cane.

He was blind.

They strode along together as if they were forty years younger and in perfect health.

The woman did the seeing, the man did the breathing, in a sense. I suppose she could have carried her own oxygen supply and he could have tapped his cane from side to side.

But they chose to be utterly dependent upon each other and were, therefore, more confident—a picture of what dependence can mean, how two can be stronger than one.

When Jesus sent out his disciples, He sent them by twos (Mark 6:7). The wise author of Ecclesiastes said, “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor” (Eccl. 4:9 NKJV).

I doubt that the couple on the Riverwalk would argue.

Every year on July 4th I celebrate our nation’s independence and thank God for freedom, particularly freedom from sin and death. But the words of my former pastor Mark Pitcher resound in my heart. We are a dependent people, he says. Dependent upon God and dependent upon each other as the body of Christ. We need each other in community.

Thank God.

I’d hate to be walking this road alone.