The news of the senseless slaughter of innocent young lives in Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL, Wednesday afternoon, February 14, 2018 dominates the news this morning. As of this morning, the death toll remains at 17 and the names of the dead, students and teachers, has not been released.
Like you, I am aware the tragedy of the loss of life reaches far beyond the dead…siblings, parents, grandparents, friends, classmates, teachers, administrators, neighbors, and yes, our state and nation…are all affected and scarred by the violence, suffering and death.
Liberal pundits will stand in their bully-pulpits and blame firearms for the loss of life. The media and anti-liberty zealots opposed to the 2nd Amendment, will attack the NRA and conservatives, and advocate the need to limit, if not eliminate private ownership of guns and rifles.
Few will look deeper and honestly examine why this happened. Why 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, a former student expelled last school year from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, would plan and unleash a hail of gunfire on students of his former high school?
We are learning Cruz’s life is scarred as much as the wounds he inflicted on innocent lives Wednesday. USA Today reports, “teachers and former classmates say [Cruz] had an angry disposition that led to him being expelled and flagged as a danger on school grounds.”
Former classmates describe Cruz as a troubled soul and many say they are not surprised he unleashed his fury in an act of violence. According to Fox News, an unnamed student told a news station, “kids joked around that the student [Cruz] would be the one to ‘shoot up the school.’”
Cruz is a troubled soul and tragedy seems to have been the haunt of his life. Fox News reports Cruz and a younger brother were adopted and both his father and mother, Roger and Lynda Cruz, are dead. Roger apparently died of a heart attack several years ago and Cruz’s mother, Lynda, died of pneumonia November 1, 2017. Unhappy with family members who took him in, sometime after Thanksgiving 2017, Cruz moved into a mobile home with a high school friend who is a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
Cruz’s anger, rage and violence are pandemic in a generation educated in classrooms and nurtured in a society with an irreligious view of human life. The doctrine that human life is sacred and every life is to be cherished is lost on a generation that mocks God, denies the Creator, and is entertained with acts of violence in video games and television programs from early childhood.
I am not surprised a 19-year-old murdered 17 classmates; I am surprised it does not happen more often. Look into the eyes of today’s youth and you will find many who appear soulless…unloved and unloving; desensitized by bitterness, rejecting authority, angry with God, and waiting to be triggered into an act of rage that will not only destroy their lives and future, but leave countless others broken and dismayed.
Remembering Cain, the first son of Adam, murdered his brother Abel (Genesis 4:8), we understand the problem is not guns and rifles; the problem is sin. The invitation to this generation is the same as it was to Cain when God wrestled with his sinful soul and asked, “Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? 7 If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted?…” (Genesis 4:6-7).
God warned Cain, “…if thou doest not well, sin lieth [crouches] at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire [sin drives our desires], and thou shalt rule over him [man will either master sin or sin will become his master]” (Genesis 4:7).
King Solomon taught his son the same truth, “[A sinner’s] own iniquities shall take [trap] the wicked himself, and he shall be holden [entrapped] with the cords [ropes] of his sins.”
Nikolas Cruz, and I am afraid many like him, is the personification of hopelessness. Sinners have but two paths to choose in life…Remorse or Repentance. Cruz followed the path of remorse and dejection and left in his wake 17 lost lives.
Repentance, on the other hand, assumes responsibility, admits guilt (Psalm 51:4), confesses sins, and seeks forgiveness (1 John 1:9).
Let us pray for the lives touched by the loss of 17 lives, but remember there are many Nikolas Cruz’s in our midst who feel unloved, act unloving, need to know the love of God, and our lives serve as the conduit of compassion for their lost souls.
With the heart of a shepherd,
Pastor Travis D. Smith
Copyright 2018 – Travis D. Smith