by Lt. Colonel Evelyn Hunter –
The week of April 18, 1999, will long be remembered–for reasons unrelated to weather conditions, or any event one might consider to be memorable in a positive way. The event that makes the week memorable was one that reflects the condition of mankind. It was the week when certain students at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, acted in a way that demonstrated that they had set their minds on the destruction of others. Their actions resulted in the loss of life of other members of the school community, students and a teacher. It was a demonstration of man’s inhumanity to man, it was an act of hopelessness, it was an act that defied understanding.
Although there have been other examples in recent times that also defy understanding, such as Rwanda or Bosnia-Herzegovina, the incident in Littleton was instigated by young people. It is difficult for me to understand the thinking of some of the young people today. How is it possible that there would be such hopelessness; such disregard for human life? What takes place in the heart and mind of a young person to so easily take the life of another?
I struggle to understand many of the situations taking place in this country and around the world. Although I can understand that the pressures bearing upon the young people are different from my day, I am sad that they appear not to grasp the reality that there is One in whom they can have hope. The writer of the 91st Psalm tells us that God is our shelter, protection, refuge and we are assured of the faithful keeping of promises.
In the March/April 1999 issue of Positive Living, Dianne Hales reminds us that children need to take responsibility for their actions. They need to experience set-backs and even failures. It may be easier for a parent to insist on the innocence of the child, but it may not be in the best thing for the child. The child must learn to know that failure is a part of life; they must experience frustration in order to learn how to handle frustration, how to cope with the real world. Ms. Hales’ final point was that parents can’t help the children learn to stand on their own two feet by letting them stand on the parents’ feet.
Learning experiences for a child? Most certainly! Learning experiences also for young people and for adults. We walk through life constantly learning that we are responsible for our own actions; that we must experience set-backs and even failures so that we might be stretched and learn to reach beyond ourselves.
There are many young people who daily demonstrate that they take responsibility for their actions. They show that they personally know the One in whom they have hope. They declare by their living, by their words and by their actions that they are committed to love and serve the Savior who gave his life for them. Such young people are everywhere in this vast Western Territory.
This year I have been privileged to attend divisional Youth Councils. There was straightforward communication on the part of the young people as well as the leadership. Challenges were presented to the young people and they responded by the giving of themselves to Jesus Christ and asking him to be their Savior. There were also those who responded by acknowledging their need for the Holy Spirit of God to dwell in all his fullness in them so that they might become the ‘living sacrifice’ Paul wrote about in Romans 12.
One specific example of the changes that took place in many individual lives was the young person who put a number of CDs on the altar. These were the music of today’s groups who sing about death, sex, murder; they contained words that bring death to the presence of Christ in the life. This young person allowed the voice of God to speak, and there was acceptance of the truth that listening to words contrary to the love of God can bring spiritual death. This was a demonstration of being responsible for one’s actions, for one’s choices.
There will always be experiences in life which are hard to forget. There is much in life that is beyond understanding. There is much to be learned at every stage of life. God grant that our prayer will be that we will always be sensitive to the leading of his Spirit.
O God, hear our prayer!