Over the past week our nation and local community has witnessed unspeakable tragedies that have left many of us asking the question “What is our world coming to?”
On Dec. 5, 19-year-old Robert Hawkins killed eight and wounded three others at a mall in Omaha before killing himself. Last Sunday Matthew Murray, a distraught 24-year-old man formerly active in ministry, killed two people at a youth mission in Arvada, Colo., before shooting two more individuals at a church in Colorado Springs and then killing himself.
On Tuesday six high school students were shot and wounded at a bus stop in Las Vegas, and that same evening in Indianapolis a 3-year-old girl was seriously wounded following a drive-by shooting on the Eastside. At press time the girl was recovering in good condition at Riley Hospital.
From these events it is obvious that we are not safe from violence or the hand of death anywhere, whether at church, work, school or even at home.
However, like other tragedies these occurrences have also brought people together and forced some individuals to make positive changes in their lives. As for the rest of us they bring to mind a list of objectives that we might want to consider in order to meet our full potential in all aspects of our lives:
Reach Out — Some tragedies occur due to circumstances that are totally out of the control of any one person. However, many of them, especially those caused by the misdeeds of human beings, can often be prevented by just reaching out to people with love.
Nothing excuses the taking of an innocent life. One can only wonder how much of a difference it would have if someone had sincerely (and consistently) reached out to Hawkins and Murray and got them the help they needed.
We never know how much of a difference we can make in the life of another person, especially one who is “on the edge.” Become a mentor to the youth who is struggling in school and tempted by a life of crime, offer a friendly smile and hello to that person who seems quiet and withdrawn — you might get them to open up and discover that they’re not so strange after all.
Express Appreciation — Tragedy after tragedy has shown us that our loved ones can depart from this life in an instant. That is why it’s important to express our love and appreciation for them each day.
Realistically speaking you won’t get along all the time with people you’re close to. However, at the end of the day it’s important that no grudges are being held and that all animosities and misunderstandings are resolved, because there’s no guarantee that everyone will wake up tomorrow.
The death of a relative or friend is absolutely painful, but sometimes the regret over missed opportunities to say, “I love you” or spend quality time with that person can sting more than the death itself. Don’t let that happen to you.
Establish your legacy — If you were to suddenly depart this earthly life today how will you be remembered? Will people remember you as a kind, compassionate, fun, stable and strong person, or will they recall you as self-centered, argumentative, chaotic and weak to the vices of this world?
Every person has a legacy, whether they are famous or not. We don’t have to win a Nobel Peace Prize, run for president or become a pro athlete to create a legacy; we can simply do it with the decisions we make in our every day lives. Legacies are formed by how we treat the people we are in contact with, what we do for people in times of need and stress and the positive, inspiring things we achieve.
Establish a relationship with Christ — Many people view the acceptance of Christianity as a complicated issue, but that is far from the case because it boils down to one critical question: Are you confident that you would be with Christ and begin to spend eternity with God if you died today?
Some people have difficulty thinking about eternity because they can’t look into the future and see it. Yet we invest in stocks and bonds, although we can’t see how they will hold up. We invest in our retirement plans, even though we’re not certain whether we will live to see retirement. Why can’t we invest this same faith in our eternity?
How do we invest in our eternity? The word of God says we can do it by establishing a relationship with God through prayer, study of the sacred Scriptures and staying close to our brothers and sisters in the body of Christ.
Remember, life is only temporary, but eternity is forever.