I hesitate to write about this past Sunday because I believe it’s holy ground. 49 lives have been taken and countless other lives have been changed forever. Evil has grabbed us by the throats again and the “again” of it has us exhausted. Exhausted, indescribably sad, angry and worn. My husband and I discussed, as we walked by a flag pole last night, that our nation’s flag seems to spend more time at half mast than not. We have become a people forever mourning.
Mourning love attacked by hate – again.
Mourning loss at the hands of terrorists.
Mourning our ineptness at stopping the breeding of hate.
Mourning our failure to change the script of violence in our country.
Half Mast refers to flying a flag below the summit on a flag pole. The summit. The highest point of a hill or mountain. Summit. To reach the highest attainable level of achievement.
The USA has its own personality. Prideful in ways that are positive. Prideful in ways that are destructive. Just like the expression, “pull yourself up by your own bootstraps”, our pride can send us striving to reach a summit or it can be a godless vanity of self-aggrandisement that sends us slipping backwards down the mountain trail (or flag pole).
With each violent assault on our soil we comfort ourselves with the truth that love is greater than hate. Sunday there were far more heroes than shooters. There were brave and compassionate people at that club. There were brave and compassionate first responders. There were brave and compassionate people at the Orlando hospitals. Yes, love was greater than hate.
But still, we face a pattern of raising our flags and then lowering them to half mast because hate repeatedly has its way.
From my vantage point the need for changes in gun control seem obvious. From my vantage point the need for changes in how we hunt down terrorists within our borders seems obvious. From my vantage point changing how we care for those with mental illness seems obvious. However, from my vantage point those are only treatment options. And just like medicine, treatment doesn’t get the final say over disease.
Our ultimate problem is we think the war we’re in is the war on terrorism or the war on a gun culture or the war on mental health or “___________” (fill in the blank).
The war we’re in is much bigger than all of the above battles combined. We were all born into a love story set in a world at war. The love story? A God, who loves his rebellious children. A love so great he chose to humble himself and come in the form of a man, Jesus, to rescue us so that we may have life and have it to the full. The war? It’s being waged by one who’s sole desire is to kill, steal and destroy.
The battles we’re in can only be won temporarily by changes in legislation or law enforcement or health care. The larger war can be won eternally by hearts that choose to follow Jesus instead of themselves or any other man. Read Isaiah 61 in the Bible. Read what Jesus said he came to do. If the Biblical language throws you, righteousness can be defined as “making all things right”. Our exhausted, indescribably sad, angry and worn hearts know that the way things are is just not right.
The only way we’re going to get to stop raising the flag only to bring it down to half mast is to raise our own personal flags of surrender. Because when we surrender our own pride, Jesus is going to take us to the summit of the highest peak. A peak named Perfect Love.