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The California Shooting & White Picket Fences

Something heart-breaking happened in California last night. Twelve people lost their lives in a mass shooting at Borderline Bar and Grill. One of them was a police officer named Sgt. Ron Helus, a 29-year police veteran with a wife and son who was looking to retire in the next year.

My heart sank at the news. Subconsciously I brace myself for another natural disaster or shooting to surface around every corner. Is it like that for you, too?

Over 300 mass shootings have occurred in the U.S. this year. Something dawned on me as I was thinking about this shooting today.

 

Evil has changed our picturesque, white picket-fence view of America. We used to define our enemy as people outside our borders threatening to attack us. Now our enemy has shown up in our own neighborhoods. It’s a shock to the system, and no one’s really talking about it, except on the days something tragic happens.

Yet it’s such a firm reminder that evil is our real enemy. Times like these remind us that our country’s walls are not what ultimately keep us safe. God is.

We can help by praying for California and for sending any help we can (we’re always called to do that), but there’s something else we have to start doing in order to see real change happen.

 

What should we do?

Fight evil. We’re called to “not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21).

How do we do that?

Focus on Jesus. Sounds almost too simple, right? The enemy is a sneaky little home-wrecker, and the biggest way he’ll get to you is to get you to focus on something else in the midst of tragedy. This typically manifests in narcissism (ouch). The more we focus on ourselves – on what will “fix” our pain or make our lives better – the less we focus on God.

So what’s my first step?

  1. Stop what you’re doing right now. And pray. Maybe it’s 60 seconds, maybe it’s 60 minutes. Pray for California, but also ask for God to help you focus on Him in the midst of tragedy. It may sound super inconvenient and kind of annoying, but that’s just the human part of you resisting.
  2. Read one verse. That’s all. You don’t have to read an entire book of the Bible. Just one verse. I picked one below to give you a head start. Read it over and over again today. Let it sink in.
  3. Find people. Do you have a community around you? This could be anything from family and friends to a church community, but the uniting factor is – they believe in Jesus and know that hope will overcome your heart when you know Him intimately. You need those kind of people around you to help you navigate through these times.
  4. Spread joy. When you experience God’s goodness, share it. Tell stories. Laugh. Sing. Talk to strangers. We need more beauty in this world.

 

May you walk forward with your eyes focused on Jesus today, spreading hope with every footstep.

 

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Isaiah 41:10

Meet Anne

While Anne’s "dream life" would include traveling and hiking every day, she’s pretty content spending time with the people she loves, eating sea salt and vinegar chips, and doing all things art. One of her greatest and most obvious passions is her plant collection. Some call it an obsession. She agrees.