We sipped ice water. The creaking rocking chairs made the only sound. Quiet and peaceful—just the way I liked it. But I knew it wouldn’t last. Fireworks were going off inside of Joe. And I just prayed I’d be able to keep them under control when they came out.
“I wouldn’t let it happen.” Joe broke the silence. “If I could’ve I’d have stopped it—all of it. Sure as hell wouldn’t sit by and do nothin’. It ain’t right and you know it.” Joe was hot, but not from the sun. He was mad at God.
I rocked forward and placed my glass on the table between us. “Me too, if I could’ve, I’d have stopped it. But I couldn’t. And neither could—”
“Exactly! We couldn’t but I know Someone who could. And He did nothing. Maybe He is nothing. I ought to have my head examined. Believin’ and prayin’ my whole life—and for what? If I had the power to stop innocent children—” his voice cracked and his eyes went wet but didn’t quite spill over. He shook his head hard once and cleared his throat. “If I had the power to stop those kids from getting hurt and I stood by and did nothing—I’d be…I’d be…I don’t know—I’d be as bad as the one who done it!”
I leaned back in the rocker and nodded. “True.” I whispered, not exactly sure why sure why I said it. I only believed part of what he had said. I figured he needed to keep going until he got it all out.
“True? True what?” He gulped a quick swig of water, wiped his mouth and smirked. “I know—that I should get my head examined—right?”
I sucked in a deep breath relieved for a break in his intensity. “Um, true that if we can stop evil and don’t, well then, we’re assisting it.”
Joe pointed his finger at me, and I watched a vein in his forehead surface. “Then why’d He let it happen?” Joe pointed up and then back to me as he said it. I knew we were talking about Sandy Hook on the surface, but underneath Joe was wrestling the cancer demon that buried his little granddaughter.
I squirmed a little, reached for the water glass and took a sip. I was moving slow and praying fast. “Joe,” I said real slow and quiet, “He didn’t let it happen. We did—”
He leaned back and threw up his hands. “Don’t give me that crap about watching too much violence on TV and such. That’s a cop-out. If God is God, He could-a and should-a stopped it, but He didn’t. You said it yourself. ‘If we can stop evil and don’t we’re assisting it.’ Doesn’t the Bible talk about Cain killing Abel? Think about it. The first born of Adam and Eve killed the second born. How crazy is that? I don’t reckon he watched too many violent movies, or got brain washed by listening to the wrong kind of music.” Joe stared at a spot on the floor between his feet and shook his head. “And God couldn’t have been too busy—or too ticked off. There weren’t that many people on the planet. And still, He let Cain knock off his brother. It just don’t make sense.”
I nodded. Although, I felt there was some validity to the idea that what we watch and listen to affects our thoughts and behaviors, he did have a “good point. Violence on TV or through music or environment surely didn’t encourage Cain to kill his brother.” I smiled a half smile. “Maybe they needed tighter gun control. I mean rock control. I mean club control. No, that couldn’t be. Why’d he do it then? Why do we still do it? Every day folks get killed, raped, abused. You think God created us just so He could watch us slaughter each other?”
“Yes. NO. I don’t think God created us for that. But I was always told God is love and He hates evil. I was taught, He created everything. Well, why’d He create evil—something He hated? That was stupid if you ask me.”
“He did create everything. But, He didn’t create evil. Evil is not a thing. Evil is the child of an unbridled thought.
We were told not to touch the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God is love and love doesn’t force, so we had the freedom to choose. We accepted a thought, a thought we knew we should reject, a thought we had the power to reject. But instead, we chose to disobey and invited evil into our world…and into that school in Sandy Hook.
Since before Cain killed Abel it’s always been, and always will be, a heart issue. God didn’t sit by and watch it happen either. God always makes the first move. He went to Cain before he killed Abel and said something like; ‘Cain, what’s wrong?’ Cain was ticked off because God accepted Abel’s gift, and not his. I suppose Abel brought his best offering, with a thankful and willing heart, whereas, Cain brought some left over, used-tea-bag type gift, grudgingly. And then, rather than acknowledging his sin, Cain got mad about it—like a lazy person despises the hard worker who gets promoted.
God, of course, knew what was wrong and went to Cain to help. ‘Why are you so sad? If you do well, you’ll be accepted. But if you don’t, sin lies at your door. Its’ desire is to control you but you should rule over it.’ (Genesis 4:7)
The first recorded counsel for fighting evil is to ‘do well and rule over it.’ It’s not complicated. It’s not rules, it’s not control. God tried to avoid the murder with proactive counsel. Cain rejected Godly advice, and acted of his own free to do evil, and he didn’t need an assault rifle to do it.
If we could pull back the curtain and see behind the scenes, we would find countless times where God has prompted people to act, to do well, to pray and stand against evil. And sadly enough, we would see that too many times we refused to act, and thus, allowed evil to prevail. All it takes for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing.
Joe, do you remember when the power went out in the Club House? Everything went black. Over a hundred of us blinded all at once, until one little lightning bug started to glow. No matter how dark the darkness, over a hundred sets of eyes could see that little bug lighting up. That’s all we need to do. Just shine. And there’s no telling how many will see the light, no matter how dark it gets. Light always extinguishes darkness. God is light.
As a kid in Sunday School we sang this song:
“This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine,
this little light of mine I’m gonna let it shine,
Jesus said: ‘Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven.’ (Matthew 5:14-16).
What if someone would have been reaching out with the light of Christ to that family? Don’t you think a simple change of heart could have avoided the whole tragedy?
Joe sat in silence. One drop was followed by a water fall.
Who says grown men don’t cry?
***Next: “Okay, I get that. Evil sucks and we should fight it. But what about—” the flood gates threatened to open again but he choked back a sob. “What about blindsided, undeserved sickness? You know…” he whispered the next word, “cancer. And all that?”
12 Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. 13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. 14 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. 15 Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.
16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. 17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. (NKJV) James 1:12-17
This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. (NKJV) 1 John 1:5