“Courage is contagious. When a brave man takes a stand, the spines of others are stiffened.” ~ Billy Graham 1918-2018
Today, Christians around the world are torn between grieving and celebrating the life of the Reverend Billy Graham. Only God knows the impact that man had on heaven and this world. The quote above is one of my favorites and in his honor, I am taking a stand.
One week ago a nineteen year old boy walked into the doors of a high school in Parkland, Florida and opened fire. He left seventeen people dead and dozens more wounded. In the week since the massacre America has lost its mind fighting over guns.
Do we need to talk about guns and whether or not he ever should have been able to get his hands on them? Absofrickinlutely.
Are guns the first topic we should be discussing? ABSOLUTELY NOT!
Nikolas Cruz buying the gun he used to carry out the massacre was the very last in nineteen years of failures.
The next discussion many want to have is the long list of FBI failures. Do we need to discuss those failures and demand accountability? Absofrickinlutely
Does the FBI hold total responsibility for the massacre? Nope
Many (including me) also want to discuss the fact that there is basically NO mental healthcare for children in this country. I know. It’s a battle I fight every single day. Nik was mentally ill. There are many years of documented evidence of his mental illness. We know that police were called to their home on at least THIRTY occasions. He was also adopted and (by my completely unprofessional opinion) has MANY (almost all) physical characteristics of fetal alcohol syndrome and/or in utero drug exposure. I have my own grown-in-the-heart-not-the-womb and exposed-to-substances-in-her-bio-mama’s-womb child. My precious twelve-year-old is now three inches taller than me and only two weeks ago, she left me with two black eyes and a new bald spot. Her behaviors are less frequent than they have been in the past, but because of her size she can now do serious damage when she rages. Did I mention that the day I got the two black eyes and lost a considerable amount of hair she was battling both me and a 6′ 4″ 250lb+ man? Yeah. She’s a badass. If I were a fighter I might even be impressed by her badassery. But I’m not. I’m a lover and I’m tired of getting my butt kicked. And guess what? No matter how tired I get of it, there are no great solutions or significant support to help me. I just have to take it, and we have to continue to spend whatever resources necessary to provide two on one care around the clock for her. Also, I try really hard not to think too much about the future because the reality is, the only difference between my child and Nikolas Cruz is that she is just intellectually delayed and psychotic enough to never be able to drive or for any sane person to give her a weapon.
So, is the American mental healthcare system to blame for the Valentine’s Day massacre? Nope
My stand is that the discussion on what happened in Parkland, Florida needs to begin with THE CHURCH. Nikolas Cruz was orphaned… TWICE. Did you know that God had an awful lot to say about who’s responsible for orphans? Lynda Cruz was widowed… for thirteen years before her death last November. Where were the Christians? Where was The Church?
In the eight years since we adopted our daughter, I have grown closer to God than I ever thought possible. I’ve devoured His Word like it was food and water. The more I dig and the nearer He feels, the more heartbroken I become over how we as Christians have redefined HIS Church and how badly we’ve failed to resemble His heart.
I love, love, LOVE Psalm 68 and I highly encourage you to write it down, or at least to read it. It is so telling about the heart of God. You and me? We were made in HIS image. We were created to spend our lives seeking after God’s heart. If we call ourselves Christians, we are claiming to be followers of God incarnate. And guess what?
He is a father to the fatherless
and an advocate for widows.
God rules from his holy palace.
Do I believe that Nik should not face justice? No. I am a HUGE proponent of personal responsibility and I believe that it is something in short supply these days. His actions were beyond horrific and I’m certain the consequences will be also. That being said, parenting a child exposed to drugs in utero gives me the unique perspective that he probably has no ability to connect consequences with actions. So I have no clue what justice should look like for him.
That’s my stand. Every person who calls themselves a child of God (including me) need to look in the mirror and ask, “What am I doing to care for orphans, widows, and those around me who are suffering?” “What am I doing to prevent the next Nikolas Cruz from ever getting to the point where police are called to his home, CPS and special education services are needed, he ends up on the radar of the FBI, and then… buys weapons and carries out a horrific massacre.
America, we may have a gun problem, and a violence problem, and a mental health problem, and an education problem, but none of that will change until we address our heart problem.
The blood of seventeen people is on the hands of you and me.