I don’t pretend to understand what’s going on in the mind of a mass shooter. The news is wrought with trying to figure out why the gunman did it. What was in his head? What were his motives?
But today, as I was watching one such report, I began to take notice of impact.
What impact did this one man have?
I don’t know why he chose to make such a horrendous impact, but here are some things I observed:
- He had a purpose bigger than himself
- He had a plan
- He took dangerous risks
- He invested to succeed
- He powerfully changed the lives of those around him
- He was willing to die
I HATE that he had such an impact. I HATE that he was successful.
In times like these, I try to focus on what I know to be true.
Jesus the Messiah gives us insight into the motives of a thief.
A thief is only there to steal and kill and destroy.
The impact of this one man was killing, stealing, and destroying life. But we were not designed for such destruction.
We are created for life—to choose life, to be life-giving.
Jesus the Messiah also reminds us of what life is intended to be.
I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.
So what will our impact be?
- We are designed to live out a purpose bigger than ourselves.
- It is good to create a plan and plot out success.
- Being an agent of change in the world requires taking risk, prioritizing and investing to succeed, and being willing to lay down our lives for something greater than us.
The difference is hope.
We all face in some way the dullness and pains of life that have us wondering why we get up each morning. But there is hope. There is purpose.
We were designed for impact. Our souls long for immortality, somehow, in this fleeting, broken, hurting world.
Hope anchors our souls and keeps us getting up to try to live each day to the fullest.
While one man caused death, many made music.
In the news interview I watched earlier, musicians Big and Rich, who opened the Route 91 Harvest festival in Vegas performing on October 1, 2017, recounted the beauty of song. The music festival opened that evening with a powerful sing-along of God bless America.
Making music is the whole reason people gathered that night in Vegas. Music draws us and compels something inside us. Different kinds of music draw different people. But, music brings us together; it makes our bodies move.
And when we grieve and mourn our losses, there is music for that, too.
Maren Morris released this song to honor the victims of the Vegas shooting. She addresses HATE directly in a letter:
You were there in the garden, like a snake in the grass, I see you in the morning staring through the looking glass. You whisper down through history and echo through these halls.
But I hate to tell you, love’s gonna conquer all
While hate has always been around, love conquers all.
We hold on to that hope because we were designed for impact. That desire to be a part of something greater than ourselves screams of our eternal capacity, our longing to touch immortality and make history. Something inside us dies if we don’t perceive our purpose—and dream, plan, design, and carry out our impact on the world.
Heroes laid down their lives.
I so appreciate the news stories that give voice to the heroes and the rescued amidst the tragedy—those who risked their lives for great impact and greater good.
What I’ve learned from observing a shooter is that it’s not just about making an impact.
What I’ve learned from observing the impact of heroes is that it’s about choosing life.
Heroes sought life-giving opportunities. Being heralds of hope in a despairing world. Taking radical risks of rescue. Laying down their lives to save another. If life can grow out of the death of one little seed, there is value, meaning and purpose in that death.
(Published in the Yemeni American News, November, 2017)