When I posted on Saturday I said I had a couple ideas in mind for new posts. This was not one of them. But the events since then have thrust this into my mind.
On Monday night I stood on the drillfield alongside thousands of other Hokies as 32 names were read aloud, each followed by a few lines about the person behind that name, and as 32 candles were lit and held in front of the 32 stones that stand on the beautiful campus of Virginia Tech as a reminder of the morning, five years ago, that tragedy struck our campus, and senseless violence claimed those 32 lives. To the somber singing of a choir, those 32 flames were then passed from one candle to another, until every one of us was holding a flame aloft, shielding it with one hand from the Blacksburg wind.
Last night I was on FaceTime with my dad. Just before we hung up, he said there was one more thing he wanted to tell me. A coworker of my parents and good friend of the family had been killed in a head-on collision in Colorado on the way home from speaking at a church Sunday.
Suddenly I find myself face to face with the frailty of the human life.
In the midst of such situations, often the first question that comes to mind is “Why?” But I am not writing this to answer that question, other than to point out that in these times more than ever, we are still feeling echoes of Genesis 3.
But I believe there is a more important question to ask.
I remember a conversation from The Fellowship of the Ring, one that has stuck with me over the years. Frodo says to Gandalf, “I wish the Ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened.”
To which the wizard replies, “So do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”
Tragedies like this are reminders that death could come to any one of us, at any moment. Which should drive us to ask, “What am I doing with the time that I have been given?” Are we living with that in mind? How would we live differently if we knew our time was near?
But for those of us who have put our faith in Christ, what matters even more is that any one of those around us could die at any moment. And if they have not chosen Jesus, at that moment all hope for them is lost. It is a tragic, awful reality, that most of us would feel more comfortable putting out of our minds. But then tragedy strikes again, and we are once more faced with the urgency of our mission. We cannot afford to procrastinate. The world cannot afford for us to procrastinate. As Paul said,
For, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them?
Brothers and sisters, the time is now. The world is perishing. And we are content to go to church on Sunday or a Bible study on a Wednesday night, utter an Amen! at a passage like the one above, and hope and even pray that somebody tells them. We need to get in the game. I say this to myself as much as anyone else. Our comfort zones are no excuse. Our busyness is no excuse. We have no excuse. How much death will it take to wake us up?
I know from experience that it is not enough to just agree to this and say I need to work on it. It’s not enough to tell myself I need to be more missions-minded towards those all around me at Virginia Tech. I need to actually do something. I need to take concrete steps in this direction. Because as April 16 and our friend’s car crash remind us, life can be cut short at any moment. The time is now.