Accounting for Lifeblood Shed in Orlando

woman-1006100_640The news greets you on your phone only seconds after you silence the alarm. It’s the notifications you see. So many from the Associated Press you know there’s been an incident.

Your first thought is where? Mentally, you locate your people.

You disregard the number, twenty dead and forty-three wounded because it’s a first count, sure to grow. You think to yourself that by now you know the drill and that, alone, makes you sad. Orlando. Night club. Gay community. Possible terrorist connection. You place the phone back on the stand and close your eyes against the week you already see forming.

Through the window, you spy a lovely summer day. The wind moves the leaves in trees that are still untouched by ravenous caterpillars and the light dances through them. Birdsongs fill the air and you think somewhere children laugh, couples dance, and seniors rock on porches listening to the fiddle or guitar. But elsewhere phones are ringing and there are knocks on doors followed by weeping, gathering, and more weeping as loved ones hear that the child they raised or the one they loved or the friend they cherished or the sibling they wrestled are among the bodies left on the night club floor. Throughout the day, numbers will become names will become someone’s sorrow.

And the death toll rises as you shower and dress for worship. Fifty souls. Someone brings Orlando up at prayer time and those wise enough to avoid the news until now are quietly informed. There’s a familiarity in the prayer, a sense of deja vous, a hint of futility you immediately renounce. Is your love growing cold? Not if you can help it. Not if Christ provides the warmth, the heat, the fire, but it’s tempting, isn’t it, to imagine not feeling anything at these tragedies any longer? Tempting and terrifying all at once. Lord, deliver us from callousness.

You run a diagnostic check on your soul. Are you saddened for those who’ve died? Yes. Are you moved by the numbers, the reports, the plight of the first holzfigur-980784_640responders, the survivors? Yes, but it’s becoming too commonplace. You’re not as moved as the first time shots were fired. How many shooters does it take to numb you completely? A warning light flashes on your emotional dashboard – it may be time for a tune up.

At home, the talking heads are saying what they always say and the shooting has multiple graphics on social media before lunch is through. It’s a record number who have died in an election year, no less, while you were listening to the children sing their Bible songs today, so you brace for an explosion of coverage and whisper a prayer against those who see that number now as a bar to surpass.

The President speaks and it’s the same speech – Paris, Newtown, San Bernardino. You could recite it now. And there is caution from some quarters and war cries from others and you tread water in the middle thinking that hate is hate is hate no matter the source. Even the news casters sound jaded – comparing the first eye witness reports to other shootings and exercising caution – we know from the recent past to check facts, to let initial emotions crash on the shore of social media like a first wave, to wait because these things take time to confirm. And you wonder, again, if it’s useful to assign massacres beautiful memes or photo filters on Facebook. If someone guns down my loved one, I don’t want the incident to have a logo or a theme song.

And watching the news coverage, you do feel something – disgust at those who pounce on these deaths to promote their political or religious agenda, their social plans. If you ruled the world, there would be twenty-four hours of silence. The line between life and death is a holy portal. You remember being in the room the day your cat breathed her last and even that felt like the holiest of transactions – a final breath. When fifty souls leave the planet in one bloody spray, we should all just shut up and simply listen to their souls cry out.

dragon-1014565_640And you have no answers. This won’t end. There will be more. The numbers will rise. The dragon knows his time is short and will spare no avenue to wreak destruction on the earth. So, you do what you know to do – you lean on Jesus, you press into His great heart, you read His word, you mention the names of those who mourn in prayer, you tune into His presence as you watch the footage of body bags and flashing lights and still photos of the shooter.

Suddenly you wonder if fear truly is your greatest enemy. Hardness of heart, cold love, numb cynicism and callous apathy appear on your soul’s horizon and you think there are ways to die even if your heart keeps beating. Jesus, show me how to stay alive in a world intent on killing our souls, you pray. Resurrect the lesions that appear on my spirit with each new massacre. Do not lead us into temptation but deliver us from evil, from apathy, from dead air in our souls.

Now is a time to mourn. God will demand an accounting for each soul who fell in the early morning hours. “And for your lifeblood I will require a reckoning: from every beast I will require it and from man. From his fellow man I will require a reckoning for the life of man.” Genesis 9:5 This is a surety. They did not die unnoticed, unwitnessed, unseen by the One True God. You know this as you know your own name because He has promised it in His Word.And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered.” Matthew 10:28-30

Jesus saw them fall. Each one. He knows their names before they appear on the victim’s website. He heard their last heart beats,sunset-50494_640 their thoughts, their cries, their prayers.

He will hold our hearts and restore the hard places in our souls, loved ones, if we bring Him this pain or this numbness whichever rises first to the surface of our prayers. Deliver us from evil, from cold hearts, from fear, and from falling prey to the evil one no matter which way he comes for our souls.

God bless those who mourn and God bless those who grow weary of these violent days. He can make us able to stand even as we weep with those who mourn. Jesus reigns and He will have the final word.

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    The Conversation

  1. Dawn says:

    Powerful words. I am in tears. We must stop this dark violence, stand together in prayer, love and determination to do so.

  2. Patty Schell says:

    Thank you, Lori. There are no words just heart ache for the loss some families are feeling tonight.

  3. Kim Wilbanks says:

    I’ve been numb all day. I live about 45 minutes from Orlando so this hits a bit too close to home. It wasn’t until I read this that the tears flowed.

  4. Barbara Diggs says:

    Horrific event. Brutal. Unsettling.
    You addressed what our hearts needed to hear. . .
    Continue to make us think, repent and pray.