Shortly after 3:30p.m. yesterday, I received this text from our youngest daughter, "Shooting at Clackamas. We are safe, but the mall is being emptied. We are waiting it out and helping people."
For those who may not have seen it on the news, a shooter with an automatic weapon, dressed in black and wearing a white mask, entered the Clackamas Town Center Mall, crowded with approximately 10,000 holiday shoppers and began to shoot into the crowd. Miraculously, (but devastating for their families), only two people were killed. The shooter then killed himself.
Clackamas Town Center Mall is about ten minutes south of where we live. Our youngest daughter took a job at the Starbucks across the street from the mall when she recently moved back to Portland from Kansas City.
It's at times like this, that the one who comes to steal, kill and destroy, turns the attention off of himself, and onto the One Who is always good, the One Who only does good, and accuses, "If God is good, why did He allow this to happen?"
The answer is actually a simple one. God created human beings with a free will. He didn't create us like robots, forced to do His will. He created us with the ability to choose, because He desires voluntary lovers, not robots. With our free will people can love and serve God, love and serve self or listen to the one who comes to steal, kill and destroy. It must give satan great satisfaction when someone chooses to obey his evil schemes, and then he turns the table and points his finger at God and blames Him and gets us to blame Him as well.
The choices we make with our will affects those around us. Yesterday, one man's choice affected thousands of people.
Today, the news coverage is full of the stories of mall employees helping customers to safety, strangers helping other strangers in wheelchairs get out of the mall, parents picking up their children and running to a safe place with them, employees of Starbucks staying on duty trying their best to calm people and wait with them until police said it was safe for them to go back to the mall to get their cars and belongings, and pastors going to the sheriff's office and volunteering to help and counsel people affected by the shooting. Today, there are thousands of stories of people choosing to selflessly help others, choosing to do good in the face of gross darkness and evil, even in the face of danger to themselves.
Today, I pray that we will turn the table on satan's accusations against God. I pray that we will see the blatant evidence of God's goodness and presence at work and alive in every selfless, kind and loving act that happened at Clackamas Town Center Mall yesterday.