Before dismissing Nicholas Cruz as a demonic monster (which he may very well be), let’s remember that he started out life just like the rest of us, as a human being made in God's Perhaps given what his life has been like and his personal dispositions, it’s quite possible that there but for the grace of God go I. Might the Jesus we know in the gospels have compassion on one so obviously driven by demons in his life?
Can we muster up ANY level of love and mercy for this damaged human being? Yes it’s incredibly hard to do because of his horrific killing spree of so many innocent people, many in the midst of their most fun and carefree years. May they rest in God's Presence and may their families be comforted by strengthened by that same holy Presence. But what about the shooter? As uncomfortable as it is to think of him in any way other than deserving death, Jesus died for us all while we were yet sinners because he loves us even though we're sick, broken people. Cruz doesn't deserve mercy...none of us do. But will Christ offer it to him? Are we able to see with different eyes....perhaps the eyes of Christ.
Nicholas Cruz will never see the light of day again. For his own protection, he will likely be separated from other inmates, This separation is the consequence of his actions, not just from other humans, but from God. Is any kind of reconciliation possible for Nicholas Cruz? Isolation is difficult. It’s filled with despair and hopelessness. Nothing to do but read, paint or get lost in one's thoughts…OR…maybe pray. One never knows; it might be the very place he meets the love of God for the first time in his life.
Our temptation to judge Cruz is understandable, but how we judge is crucial, as it reflects whether we worship a God of grace, mercy, love and forgiveness, or one who finds no redeeming quality in notorious sinners and prefers to throw them away. We're tempted to discard him as a piece of trash out of a sense of retribution, but God loves him and desires to be reconciled once again. Which temptation are we drawn to choose? Do we see hope for the hopeless, or a vindictive end to a cruel life? We may be caught in the middle. But we can’t stay there forever. What we decide will reflect the One we worship.
Living in the present moment is tricky because there really isn’t a present moment in time. The present is merely a description of what happens when the future become the past. The passage of time is imperceptibly fast. To be attuned to the present moment then, is to be present to the actual passage of time, not the static nature of time, which doesn’t exist. We can’t say, “Stop world and let me get off for a minute or two, so I can be still in the present moment.” Can’t happen—you’ll never be in the present—not in this life. Life is meant to be lived & experienced in a moving process called time, designed to be interpreted, enjoyed, suffered, loved, reconciled, healed, and to glorify God. But time only stops for us when our life stops.
Consider adding these things to your Rule of Life in Lent:
I’m a 4th generation Texan, born and raised in Dallas, except for the first 9 years of my life. I grew up as an Army brat until my dad retired and we moved back home to Dallas when I was in the 4th grade. I lived in Asuncion, Paraguay as a pre-schooler and was fluent in Spanish and Guarani when we returned to the States. But alas, you lose it if you don’t use it.