Tomorrow it will have been one week since the deadliest massacre in modern history struck Las Vegas, Nevada. The loss of so many people in such a horrendous mass shooting has been heavy on my heart. The people whose lives have been forever impacted have been in the prayers of many Americans. One woman lost her life who used to work at my school. Another dear son of a pastor I know was involved in trying to carry a dying victim to safety. A third victim who lives in my city left behind a husband and three young children. Many grieving community members have offered money and support to these situations, but that doesn’t take away the terrible pain that has been inflicted upon the hearts and the futures of those left behind.
Still, we who are in Christ have hope. As God enlightens our hearts and minds, our spiritual eyes can glimpse the other side. Adele sings in her popular ballad, “Hello from the other side.” It makes me wonder about what those who have made it from death to life are doing. Are they singing and dancing down streets paved with gold looking into the eyes of Jesus? I believe they are doing that and so much more. Those lost, have actually just been found. Those tragically wiped away from Earth have been received into the glorious gates of heaven where there is no more pain, or loss, or tears.
The most vivid photo I saw from the Vegas incident was one where a man had thrown his body over his wife and taken the bullet directed at her. She lived. He died. This particularly drew my attention because it is a perfect picture of what Jesus did for us. He willingly allowed his body to be nailed to a cross for us. He was pinned there until his blood was drained from his body to the point where water poured out from His side.
Tomorrow, the day that marks one week from the shooting, will also mark five years since my father died. I will always remember the day my father died because moments before his death he heard over the phone the first cry of my youngest nephew, Gunner, who had just been born. My father was not the most exemplary father. He made many terrible mistakes, but he reached out for Jesus; he believed on the Savior’s name. I believe, like the thief who hung on the cross next to Jesus, my father is with Him now. I believe all the victims of the shooting who called out to Jesus are also with Him now.
His Word tells us…
One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”
But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God?” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”
Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” – Luke 23:39-43
The thief simply acknowledged that Jesus was the Messiah and believed on His name and Jesus assured him of his final destination in Paradise. It was not the paradise of a tropical island or a relaxing getaway, but a final resting place of having all of his sins covered by the blood of Jesus and a resting place of perfect and eternal communion with God.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. –John 3:16-17
Dear Lord in Heaven,
Thank you for your blood. Thank you that all we need to do is believe on your name to receive eternal life. Thank you for your amazing love for us, for shielding us from the bullets intended to rob us of our eternity in heaven with You.
Be with those left behind today. Comfort the hearts of the families and friends of all the people involved in the Vegas tragedy. Strengthen the hospital workers and give wisdom to the doctors working vigilantly on behalf of those who are fighting through recovery. I claim that through this tragic loss, You would find many. That You would take their pain and use it to turn hearts of many people toward you. I pray for hearts who are far from you to return to your love. I pray for those who don’t know you to find your grace and mercy through such trying times. May there be many, many more lives eternally saved than the number of those who were lost.
Redeem our hearts, Lord. Heal our land. Send angels to flight over America. You said, “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”(2 Chronicles 7:14). Have mercy on us, Father, and heal our land.
In Jesus’ Precious Name,