I live in Colorado Springs, home of the Air Force Academy, Focus on the Family, and Pike’s Peak. Colorado Springs is also the town where on December 9, 2007 a gunman opened fired on my church killing two and wounding many others. Most recently, you may remember Colorado Springs for the murders at our Planned Parenthood building.
My family has lived here for 18 years. Shortly after we moved to Colorado, on a cold winter’s day, I went around to the back of my house. I attempted to open the six foot gate leading to the space under my deck.
There was snow and ice blanketing everything, and as I tried to get the gate open, it was stuck fast. I slammed my body into it. No budge. Something appeared stuck under it.
What was that?? It didn’t look right.
I took the long way around the house to approach the gate from the opposite direction.
Then I identified a grisly truth.
An animal had tried to evade capture by darting under my gate, a strategy that had worked for it, no doubt, many times before. But this time, there was a build up of snow and ice under the gate, severely narrowing the passageway. The animal, I believed a cat, got stuck halfway without a moment to spare. A predator grabbed its exposed parts and began pulling, stripping the skin and fur right off the cat’s hind quarters.
I felt sickened knowing that the torture must have continued for some time until the predator came up with the same idea I had. Approach the victim from the other side. The cat was then mauled and stripped from his head, all the while remaining stuck fast under my gate, pinned down to endure a gruesome death.
It took me weeks after extracting the carcass to deaden the image in my mind of this terrified, suffering cat. It was the only way to avoid perpetual weeping. As an animal lover, it was that upsetting to me.
But isn’t deadening the image just what we do when we hear about bodies being blown up in Syria, violence in France, or even our own townspeople getting gunned down in Colorado Springs, or now in San Bernardino?
The predator Satan is an authentic enemy behind every evil, far more ruthless than neighborhood coyotes who viciously attack cats. And a real response from us is nearer to the heart of God than disposing of the “carcass” in our own minds in order to move on with our lives unaffected.
This same predator is at work in the lives of people you cross paths with every day, not just in sensational atrocities which make headlines. As Christians facing our own profound challenges, we do not get a free pass from engaging with those within our spheres who have been ruthlessly attacked. Satan is not just the enemy of our souls; he is also an enemy of the abundant life our good God wishes to bestow.
Our God changes outcomes through redemption of circumstances as well as souls.
Engagement causes us to weep, in spite of inconvenience, in intercession when victims are out of reach. Engagement motivates us to take risks by opening our hearts and our schedules to the hurting. Engagement compels us to share Christ with those who feel no hope; God-breathed empathy overriding judgment.
Engagement that results in connectedness is a way of life that permeates every aspect of who we are as agents of a living God.
"All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us."