As I opened the book I was about to read, a small card fell out of it. It was from the Murrays, the gunman’s parents.
So was the book.
“Pain, Perplexity and Promotion” was also from them to me as a gift one year after the shooting. But it was the card I needed to read right now, not the book.
For some reason, I hadn’t seen the words Loretta Murray wrote to me in December of 2008 quite as clearly as I was now seeing them. The card read:
Thank you for your willingness to be God’s instrument and servant to save many! Isaiah 62:3 ‘You shall also be so beautiful and thought of as a crown of glory and honor in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God…vs. 4 for the Lord delights in you’.
We pray the Lord will royally bless you and pour His glory upon your life in even greater measure in the year ahead!”
The Murrays signed it, “Our love and prayers”.
“Pain, Perplexity and Promotion” is a book about how God uses painful circumstances in our lives to promote us to a higher dimension of spiritual reality. Anything meant for harm in our lives, God can always turn it around for good. I’ve read this book now about 5 times, and each time things become more clear to me. Today is no exception.
I can’t even imagine how much pain the violent actions of their son caused the Murrays. Their youngest son decided to take a twisted form of justice into his own hands and kill innocent people. Their son, whom they could never have even imagined having the capacity, let alone the desire to kill.
Please know I am not in any way ignoring or belittling the pain of the four families who also lost loved ones, or the people who were shot and wounded that day-or any of the many people who were present, survived and possibly forever traumatized by those memories.
But I choose today to write about the other family who also lost a son to violence. A family who has been judged and criticized by some in the media and public, and who, despite everything, has remained faithful to God and been wonderful, supportive friends to me.
The fact that they do not hate, judge or blame, but instead forgive, and understand and know that I had no other choice but to end the life of their son, all comes from truly knowing God and clearly understanding how evil works in our world.
I know now that God does not cause horrific tragedies. But he does get blamed for them. “Then why did God let this happen?” Because our God lovingly gives all mankind free will. He is not a controlling dictator. He allows men and women to choose how they will live their lives. The personal choices we make in our daily lives that either bless or doom us are not anyone’s fault but our own.
God did not let the shootings at New Life Church and YWAM happen. Instead, one man made a choice to kill. He had options. He had choices. And he made the wrong ones.
And because he made the wrong choice, his family was now forced to make a choice of their own; how would they respond to the police officer who ended their son’s life? How would you respond as a parent to the person who ended your child’s life-no matter what the circumstances?
The Murrays responded with forgiveness and love. Not many could do that. When we harbor bitterness and unforgiveness, the only one we are hurting is ourselves. It took me a long time to learn that. Too long, really. But I’m finally at a place of peace where I know God is in control and God will make all the wrongs in my life right.
Six years ago today is the anniversary date of the two shootings at YWAM and New Life Church. I was going to read a book for encouragement and for answers. Instead, a small card fell out of the cover and gave me all the answers and encouragement I could have ever asked for.
May God be with and uplift all of you who remember this day six years ago. And may you all continue to survive and thrive and make only the very best of decisions.
In Jesus name, amen.