"So he answered and said, 'You shall love ...
your neighbor as yourself.' But he, wanting to justify
himself, said to Jesus, 'And who is my neighbour?'" (Luke
Have you made your New Years' resolution for 2013 yet? I have, and I would like to invite each of you to join me in mine.
But first, the background...
It was exactly 18 days ago that a 20-year-old armed man named Adam Lanza entered Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. In the aftermath of his bloody visit, 20 children lay dead, along with 6 adults, including the school’s principal. And then the shooter shot himself. In a home a few blocks away, the shooter’s mother was also dead. 28 people gone from this world. In just a few moments of time. December 14, 2012 will definitely be a day that few in North America will ever forget.
What were you doing when you heard of the shooting?
I know what I was doing. I was running down the halls of the hospital where I work, trying to make sure I had all the details wrapped up before I left for the weekend. I just happened to hear it in passing: "There’s been another school shooting. In Connecticut."
"Oh, that's horrible," I thought, and then my mind returned immediately to my charting.
My 17 year-old was the next to bring it to my attention. He didn't know any details, but I have to admit to my shame, that I was a bit surprised at how emotionally-laden he looked and sounded as he relayed the news. "It was in Connecticut," I told him, remembering the news I had heard at work. But then my mind went to, "I'm so glad we don't have things like that happening in Canada..." and I returned to the all-important task I was undertaking of cleaning up the basement. After all, if I didn't finish this task right then, my whole schedule for the weekend would be messed up!
It wasn't until later, when my husband looked up the story on the Internet, that the full horror of the happenings finally dawned on me. And then God began to speak, and His words went something like this: "Lyn, that was the worst school shooting in American history. 28 of my beloved children have died a senseless death, and you couldn't even afford to give it a passing thought, despite two different opportunities afforded to you during the day!"
God then transported me in my mind to the homes of those 20 children, homes that just hours earlier had been happily preparing for Christmas, homes where parents had bundled up their precious 5-10 year-olds for school, firmly believing that they were sending them into a safe haven, only to learn hours later that the "safe haven" had become a battlefield. Christmas is ruined for these families, as well as for the families of the 6 others who were also killed!
But God wasn't through with me. He then took me in my mind to the homes of the children who had survived, but would now live in emotional turmoil and fear due to what they have experienced. And then He reminded me that my attitude in the face of any tragedy that doesn't directly affect me is just, plain "laissez-faire"!
But it is oh, too true.
Partially this is a manifestation of innate selfishness: Why bother worrying about something that doesn't even affect me? I have my own problems, after all, and they take up all of my time and energy...
And partially this is a defence mechanism: Carrying the grief of every horrible thing that happens would quickly drag me to the ground!
Before you write off this devotional as being simply the ramblings of a guilt-ridden soul, I would like for you to ask yourself an all-important question: In the face of earthquakes and tsunamis, hurricanes and famines, human trafficking, abortion, murder, terrorism...If it doesn't directly affect you, do you truly care?
Now I know that many of you out there care very deeply indeed. But I can't help but think that this world might be a very different place if we all cared a bit more about the suffering of our fellow human beings, no matter how far away they might live!
And perhaps, if we all cared a bit more about others, just maybe, the
gospel message wouldn't be so hard to proclaim!
Think about it: With all the natural disasters, the crash of the economy, the atrocities that human beings afflict on one another, isn't this the time to be standing on the rooftops and shouting at the top of our lungs: "Prepare the way of the Lord!"
This is the backdrop for what has become my personal New Years' resolution for 2013: I resolve, with the help of the Lord, to try and reflect His of love to the world in all situations! To truly care about my neighbour, to hurt when they hurt, to do everything in my power to help. And above all, to try to let every one of my actions and words scream out: "The Day of the Lord is near! Prepare the way of the Lord!"
After all, isn't loving our "neighbour" the second of God's great commands?
Will you join me today in this resolution? If you will, then you can be guaranteed that at the end of 2013, this world will be a better place because you let God's love shine through you to the world! And believe it or not, when we put our energy into the suffering of others, our own problems always seem to ease up somehow...
And maybe, if you do join me, the deaths of those 27 victims will not have been for nothing...
Think about it!
In His love,
Lyn Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two teens, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with Answers2Prayer Ministries.