Tuesday, April 17, 2007

What Looms on Your Horizon?

Have you ever noticed how in-tune we are with our geographical location? Maybe I'm just an anomaly in this, but it hit me yesterday when I was thinking about Virginia Tech. It's 129 miles away, 2 hours and 13 minutes from my house. I felt shoulder to shoulder with my neighbors in Virginia when I heard the news that there were two people killed, then more news poured in that the numbers had soared to 31, then 33. Thirty-two people were massacred, not including the killer, on a college campus just two hours from my house. Blacksburg, VA, looms on my northern horizon.

Does it loom on yours? If not, then you need to pause for just a moment and get your bearings. Stop and think about it for just a moment. Where are you? Where is Blacksburg? Is it east of you? West? North? South? Think about it for just a moment. The geographical position of Blacksburg, VA, in relation to you isn't really what's important, though. What is important is that you take pause and realize that these folks are your neighbors, that Blacksburg's horror and loss really does brush shoulders with you.

And while you're pondering that, take a moment to ponder some of the even greater tragedies that happened yesterday. Think about the scores of people who were slaughtered yesterday in Sudan. Think about the thousands of people, men, women, and children, who saw their homes and loved ones washed away in the floods in Mozambique and Bolivia two months ago.

But they're a world away. That's a different continent. Several different continents. That doesn't affect me.

Yes, it does. It should.

We must all realize the senseless loss of such tragedies, whether we're 10 minutes away, or 10 hours. Whether it's a college student turned psychotic shooter or an Islamic regime trying to exterminate those who possess a different faith and a different skin color, whether it's a hurricane that ravages our continent's southern coast or heavy rains that wipe away entire villages one continent over, it does affect us. We must all come to terms with the fact that sometimes bad things happen without apparent explanation. We must face the fact that we don't always have control of our surroundings. That we are vulnerable. That our children are vulnerable.

How does that make you feel? Kinda scared, huh?

That's the reason why most folks choose to ignore the tragedy of loss in our world...until it gets too close to our homes. Until it looms on our horizon. Until it's in your face and you can't ignore it anymore.

It's time we expand our horizons. It's time we felt others' loss. It's time for us to shake off our slumber, come out of our protective cocoons--realize that those cocoons are just an illusion--and come to terms with the fact that we're all in this world together.

Now let's step back from that vista for just a moment and take a look at our horizon through God's perspective. He loves every person who died yesterday in that massacre. He loves every person in Darfur, in Somalia, the women and children imprisoned unjustly and executed in Iran, the American soldiers in the midst of civil war in the sands of Iraq.

I heard a very interesting statement yesterday on Focus on the Family: that you love Jesus Christ only as much as you love the person you like the least. I think that's true of our compassion for those who suffer as well, that we only love Christ as much as the person in need for whom we've prayed and felt compassion the least. Jesus himself said that what we do for the least of these we do for Him, and what we refuse to do for the least we refuse to do for Him (Matthew 25).

It's easy to feel grief over Blacksburg and to lift prayers to God for those involved in the Virginia Tech massacre. And it should be. We should each pray fervently for those directly affected. And we must deal with the realizations this tragedy brings to the surface about our own personal security and safety. But it should be equally easy to feel grief and lift prayers for those who suffer in Sudan, India, Honduras. You get the picture.

Now, what looms on your horizon? Feel Blacksburg, to your north, your south, your east or west. Stop for a moment and feel Blacksburg. Then expand that horizon just a little.

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