It’s been four years since a young man came on our campus on a Sunday morning, killing two of our young girls and injuring others. Four years ago. Some days it seems like it all happened just yesterday and on others, it seems a distant memory.
So much healing and redemption has happened since that cold, snowy morning in December of 2007. We have planted churches, launched missionaries all over the globe, opened Dream Centers, and seen hundreds come to Christ. We have witnessed a church family literally rise from the ashes and emerge from the valley of the shadow of death.
Often, I go to the two rock benches in our parking lot and sit between the two towering Blue Spruce trees and read the scriptures on the memorials. It is on the very spot where the shooting occured and is now holy ground at New Life. Stephanie has inscribed on her bench verses from Psalm 30:11-12:
“You have turned my wailing into dancing; your removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing to you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever.”
On Rachel’s bench is the beautiful reminder from Philippians 4:6-7:
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Both scriptures had just been written in their respective journals not long before their lives tragically ended. Most Sundays, I see their parents standing and worshipping with the rest of our New Life family. They are such an inspiration to me and to others. Their wailing has turned to dancing and they have a peace that is transcendant. I imagine Stephanie and Rachel are smiling.
We have healed but are still healing; we are broken, but getting stronger. We have a scar from a story that is tragic, but our future is super bright. God has been near to us every step of the way, nearer than any of us could have ever imagined or believed four years ago. I am thankful for hope and the keen awareness that something good, even great, awaits us in the not too distant future.