I began this Blog to journal my experiences living on Stop Hunger Now meals and the work of this wonderful organization. That journey was incredible and has enriched my life, the lives of my family, and provided much-needed food for those in need.
However, it has been a long time since I have written anything. I have been kind of experiencing a wilderness time in my spiritual life. I have moved to a new place of ministry, a new community and many new things.
For the past several days, maybe even weeks, I have wrestled with a number of things I have seen in the news and happening in the world. I don’t really want to get into political or social debate. But I do feel a need to just speak my feelings and see where that might lead me.
I have watched persons I respect stand up for a person convicted of a crime be sentenced to death and ultimately executed. And while I understand their place, and to a large extent agree with much they have to say — I have to ask about the person who was killed. I have to ask about the fact that actions have consequences — sometimes very harsh consequences that do not arrive until much time has passed. In the face of words about God’s mercy, redemption, repentance, forgiveness, I have to ask about Samson, Judas, and others.
Samson was loved by God, given wonderful gifts. But he could not resist his urges and women. He sinned and as a result had his eyes gouged out, was put in prison pushing a mill stone. In time, he realized his sin, repented and was forgiven by God and restored. What we often miss in the story is the fact that his eyes were never restored. They were gouged out as a result of his sin. They were never given back. AND, as he in obedience acted on God’s behalf as a forgiven person — his life was forfeited in the process.
I look at Judas and how he tried to force God’s hand and the result was not only the betrayal of Jesus and his crucifixion — but Judas, in his guilt lost his life.
Now I don’t know how to really reconcile these three events. What I know is that actions have consequences and being repentant and forgiven doesn’t always stop the arrival of those consequences. What I know is that being forgiven we have resources to deal with the consequences we would NOT have if we were not forgiven.
Tonight I am bothered by the new shooting in Oregon. Already everyone is trying to make it political. And there is certainly a political piece to it. After we grieve, pray, weep and grieve some more I have to ask — will we ever learn that the tool used to kill has no emotion or investment in the act. The act is the choice of a person or people. And almost every time it is someone with mental health issues. We talk about it for a few sound bites at first. But in the end it always comes down to a debate about gun laws. Time, money, energy and people get used and yet we never get around to doing anything about doing a better job taking care of those with mental health issues. Getting treatment is expensive while getting medical treatment has gotten more accessible. I pay a $30 copay for medical care. When my ex-wife needed mental health care we paid 50% of the cost and had to fight to get coverage of the medication. Not to mention the continued stigma that goes with a diagnosis.
The guy that killed so many childcare in Sandy Hook broke some 41 gun laws. Law number 42 would not have prevented it. But if everyone in his life had paid better attention to his mental struggles, and if the diagnosis, treatment and care had been better it might have been prevented. The gun wasn’t the problem. Days after this act another mentally ill person used a knife to kill almost as many persons. The weapon isn’t the issue. The lack of medical care and support is very much the issue.
Again, I am not looking for a debate or to get into a back and forth argument. These are just my thoughts as I, along with many, wrestle with the events of the last few weeks. May God give us wisdom. May God give us courage. May God be merciful to all involved. And may we try to discuss the real problem and not what is easiest to point to and argue about.