Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; Psalm 23:4 (NIV)
I’ve been thinking about those people who died at the mall in Omaha, Nebraska today. What was it like, I wonder? To leave your house to go Christmas shopping and never return? To take your lunch break, to stay at the mall just a few more minutes to get that one last gift, but not live to see the recipient open it? What was it like to hear the gun shots? To see the people fall? To look up towards that third floor balcony at a man with a gun pointing at you? What was it like to duck behind a clothes rack and pray for protection? To be shut inside a dressing room with five other people not knowing if the ones knocking on the door could be trusted? To pick up your four year old daughter, shield her with your body and run for the restroom? What was it like to know that your husband, son, daughter, wife, friend, co worker had plans to visit the mall today? What was it like, I wonder? What was it like to be the law enforcement officers risking their lives to bring out the wounded and scared? To be unsure if the bad guy was lurking, waiting for you to drop your guard? What was it like to not know if he had an accomplice? What was it like to be an emergency rescuer? To enter the store and see the bodies lying there? What was it like to decide who to treat first? To wonder if just a few minutes earlier you might have been able to do more? What was it like to hear the last breath of someone just like you or me, simply out in search of Christmas presents? Someone in the wrong place at the wrong time? I think about it and realize, it could have been me. I don’t live in Nebraska. Hopefully, I will never encounter a gunman at a mall. But, each breath could be my last. Each moment is a gift. I cannot count upon the next one. I could die in a car accident. I could have a stroke or heart attack. I could trip on a crack in the sidewalk, fall and hit my head and die two weeks later as a dear friend did earlier this year. I could get a staph infection, the flu, cancer. My horse could kick me in the head. There are many possibilities of how and when I might face death. But, my focus cannot be on the dying, but on the living. So, how will I live? I can choose to live in fear. Afraid to leave my house or go to the store. I can feel every ache, massage every lump and evaluate every heart beat. Or, I can live life to the fullest, loving deeply, grateful for every moment. Knowing that when I do die, it will be in God’s time and He will walk me home. With no regrets.