Caution: This post is a bit graphic and a lot offensive. No apologies will be offered as this is a story that needs to be told. That said, no offense taken if you click that small red x at the top of your browser. I strongly advise that you venture into this man's testimony, however, because it speaks of truth.
I should be doing my homework, the homework that has to be done in two days and has been knocking on my door since last Friday. Yet it seems so trivial, especially when my entire city is reeling in emotions--sunk with fear, seething in anger. I listened to a man--one of the survivors--give his testimony on a very popular, very secular radio station on the way home. I can't hardly breathe when I hear the stories and watch the news about the horrible event, but I couldn't change the station either.
"I saw him come through the door and his presence was awful. I knew by the way he walked, the way he stood, something bad was going to happen...I saw the tear gas and saw him fire the first two shots right at the front row. I immediately hit the deck with my buddy...I lay as still as I could, trying to use the back of the seat in front of me as a shield. I just started praying, "Jesus, Jesus, save us, keep us safe." Forty or fifty shots must have went off until I felt one in my foot, then in my arm. It's like my toes blew off and my whole left side had been hit. My buddy screamed, "I'm hit! I'm hit!" "Me too, bro," I said…We finally heard the shots stop, so we snuck down the stadium seats and near the exit door, which was about 30 feet away. Right before the door, I collapsed on my face. I had nothing left, I was done. I was already preparing to enter the next life, I knew this was it and I was going to die. My buddy was yelling, saying we had to get out, but I just couldn't move. The only thing I was thinking was "Please, God, don't let people and my family blame You for this, don't let them hate You. Then we heard more shots being fired. He was back. We tried to lay still again even though we were in so much pain. I felt his shadow loom over me, he was right above my face. I kept saying 'Jesus, Jesus'. Then I heard his gun misfire and get stuck. His gun wouldn't even work anymore. It’s like I heard God's voice, "Enough!" The next thing I remember is being escorted to the hospital in a cop car, because there weren't enough ambulances."
The young man went on to talk about his surgery, the fact that one bullet nearly went right into his chest, and that his buddy is also still alive. He also said,
"I know Jesus, intimately, and that's what allowed me to be okay with death that night. That's what allows me to not be angry at the gunman. I see him on TV and I don't hate him. I could talk to him right now and tell him how sorry I am that his existence has become this nightmare. Satan came in and stole his body, you could see him in the courtroom today like a zombie, a lifeless puppet. The enemy came in and used him for evil, and then left him there with no life left. He was empty. I think he should spend life in prison, but I hope Jesus comes in and saves his life while He's there."
I haven't felt anger at the gunman myself. Had I lost someone or been involved in the shooting, my feelings might be different. But I know that my role to play in this is similar to the man's on the radio. My job is to show Christ, and I know Jesus doesn't hate the man. He isn't even angry at the man. He's angry at the darkness that took over that man's life and destroyed others' lives.
This tragedy doesn't feel that far away from the tragedy that is my place of employment. I work at a church that refuses to use Jesus' name, because "the miracles he performed were hocus-pocus". They refuse to believe in a heaven or a hell, because that's for conservative, traditional, less-enlightened people. They refuse to a live a life that points to a Savior because that would be foolish.
Isn't it the enemy's goal to kill, steal, and destroy? Isn't that exactly what he's doing by making us believe that there is no savior, there is no heaven, there is no hope? Isn't that what he's doing by making us fearful of movie theaters, public places, and other people? I couldn't get out of my car this morning because there was a small, black car parked outside my office, a car that isn't usually there…
But now I refuse to let this fear come into my life, and I refuse to believe that Jesus' miracles were hocus-pocus. This great, big story we're living in, it's for our redemption. It's for God to rescue and to save us. Yes, twelve wonderful people did die that night, and yes, many lives and families were destroyed and damaged, but I also believe that it was God's hand that stopped the gun and said to the enemy, "ENOUGH". God has the power to do so, we just have to start asking and believing. And while bad things do happen on this earth, we have been promised a life full of abundant love and joy. There will be no tears after we leave this place.
We will never get answers to such horrible events, but the point is not to have answers. The point is to know Jesus so well that you know what happens in the second--the quick, fast, second--it takes for this life to be over. The point is to know Jesus so well that you don't have to also know fear, anger, and hatred. The point is to proclaim Jesus' name because his promises are good and his miracles are true. The point is that you can believe in his miracles, his goodness, his promises.
I hope that you can see what could come out of this tragedy--lives led to Jesus, trust and hope in Jesus. I hope you can see that while we suffer greatly on this earth, we cannot even comprehend what life is truly about. I hope you can see that "life abundantly" is not just a verse or a saying, but a promise meant for every person, even the ones who have been taken captive by darkness.