This week something abominable happened in my own slice of the Midwest.
In a nutshell: A ten-year-old girl went missing. A four-day search by police and the community ended with the discovery of the girl’s body. Her step-mother has been accused of strangling her.
What’s our reaction?
- This woman was a step-mother, which hints that something was already broken (whether the girl’s mother died, or her parents broke up, something is broken – cp. Matt. 19:4-6)
- Ten years old. Mean American life expectancy is pushing seventy years – how could this girl be denied so much of her potential, so much of her future? In our gut, we know it should not be this way.
- The whole function of parents is to protect, nurture, and raise children…not hurt or kill them. IRONY.
- Strangling is particularly gruesome, at least in my opinion. Even the word itself drips with evocative horror.
- The reaction of everyone in our community is the same: sadness, shock, disgust, anger, disbelief…
In our own little patch of small-town, rural Paradise, this abomination happened!
As the image of God imprinted on our soul, and our innate understanding of God’s law, inform our reactions, here are some of the sentiments I’ve heard from my community:
- That girl’s in a better place, now…She has to be, given that home situation.
- I cried when I heard about it.
- There’s a special place in Hell for murderers like that!
- How could anyone do this to your own child?
- How could a good God allow this horror?
- Why would this girl be born and grow to the age of ten, only to be so ruthlessly cut down?
Abominable Carrot Cake
Our pastor explains that the word “abomination” is connected to something repulsive, detestable, totally repugnant.
Imagine swigging a big gulp of milk…and discovering chunks of spoiled curds in it.
Or imagine taking a bite of carrot cake with cream cheese frosting…and it tastes like warm vomit in your mouth. And for the entire rest of the day, your mouth experiences after-shocks of revulsion because of the foulness.
Imagine a woman strangling her own daughter.
Now you know how God feels when he looks at sin…
(See Proverbs 11:20, 15:9, 16:5, 21:27, and many others…)
He warned us about this. He told us what darkness was out there. Why didn’t we believe Him?
When God Says, “I Told You So”
“Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” That’s why that little girl was born – why all of us were born.
But we majorly screwed up, and stuffed our faces with that rancid carrot cake.
Why are we shocked?
[A]s it is written:
“None is righteous, no, not one;
no one understands;
no one seeks for God.
All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
no one does good,
not even one.”
“Their throat is an open grave;
they use their tongues to deceive.”
“The venom of asps is under their lips.”
“Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”
“Their feet are swift to shed blood;
in their paths are ruin and misery,
and the way of peace they have not known.”
“There is no fear of God before their eyes.” (Rom. 3:10-18)
Note that “as it is written” shows he’s quoting from the old testament. God told us about this before. Long before.
He told us “the heart of man is desperately wicked”. He said we were hopelessly lost without Him (see Genesis, Exodus, and Judges).
We should have known better…and yet we’re sucker-punched every time something like this comes along. This just proves God was right all the time!
Why aren’t we horrified more often?
We block our gag reflexes as well as we can…but once in a while, God’s law written on our hearts rises up and says:
Whoever killed this girl deserves to burn in Hell!
That guy who ate his girlfriend‘s face deserves to burn in Hell!
The people who kidnapped the girls in Nigeria deserve to burn in Hell!
Everyone who shoots up/blows up a school deserves to burn in Hell!
Whoever is angry with his brother deserves to burn in Hell!
Oops. That’s how God’s Holy Spirit gets us.
“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’
But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. (Matt. 5:21-22)
I’ll just remind you these words here are Jesus talking (the Self-Existent, Ever-living Son of God, King of Israel, Master of Armies, etc.)
Why aren’t we convicted for ourselves?
Consider these words from God, delivered through His slave Paul:
What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.”
But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. Apart from the law, sin lies dead.
I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me.
So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good. (Rom. 7:7-12)
Compassion and Pity
But…how could a God who is good and all-powerful allow a little girl to be hurt like this?
I have no better answer than to quote my Sensei:
There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.
And [Jesus] answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:1-5)
Every time a plane goes down, or a bomb goes off, just remember that God was right all along. And remember that you need to repent, too.
It’s easy to hate someone we label as so “repugnant” – so “abominable.” But the Spirit of God inside me reminds me I should pity this woman accused of killing her step-daughter…and pray for her repentance.
Because, but for the grace of God, that is me.
I won’t say be grateful for these nauseating lumps of rancid foulness (meaning the acts). But I will say, “Don’t lose the forest for the trees.”
Every once in a while, we choke on something truly horrid – which is God’s way of reminding us what we’re eating.
Wisdom has built her house;
she has hewn her seven pillars.
She has slaughtered her beasts; she has mixed her wine;
she has also set her table.
She has sent out her young women to call
from the highest places in the town,
“Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!”
To him who lacks sense she says,
“Come, eat of my bread
and drink of the wine I have mixed.
“Leave your simple ways, and live,
and walk in the way of insight.” (Proverbs 9:1-6)
Put down that spoiled milk. Let go of lying on your tests, or day-dreaming sexual fantasies, or plotting the murder of the other drivers while in traffic, or disobeying your parents.
There’s better food. There’s life-giving food.
Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. (John 6:35)
Come. Eat. If you find yourself sitting next to this step-mother at the Feast of the Lamb – rejoice that you were both accepted…despite having no party clothes, and not being worthy of a wedding banquet in the King’s house.
She currently lives somewhere in the American Midwest, bracing for the collapse of society by knitting, baking, writing, hobby-farming, and reading as much Twitter as possible before the web goes dark.
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