Beginning in late May, someone has been shooting at vehicles traveling on Interstate 5, the main north-south freeway that travels along the west coast. The shootings are taking place on a 70 mile stretch of freeway in the area where Jan and I live. The shootings have only been bullet strikes to vehicles until yesterday when the sniper’s bullet struck a woman in her shoulder. We would appreciate your prayers. This person needs to be brought to justice sooner than later.
Like all forms of violence, escalation is always possible because violence seeks to increase its presence when not confronted. Just as the freeway sniper has now escalated the deadly potential of his/her acts of violence, so it is with anything in life. Restraint, not the freedom to do whatever an evil desire demands, is the mark of an emotionally and spiritually healthy person.
While a freeway sniper is a real concern for the safety for those of us who live in southern Oregon, so are the contributing words and actions we might add as kindling to the burning fires of emotion now aflame in our culture. Like the progression of the mindset of a sniper firing at innocent motorists, so it is with us when we respond to cultural stimuli without the restraint of the Spirit’s presence.
I understand much of the frustration happening in this emotionally charged pandemic-election cycle-economic downturn social distancing-wear your mask culture. We want to fire off our disgust at someone. We may start by taking aim at the nearest moving vehicle of dissent, but at some point, our unrestrained words can escalate and become a deadly projectile that creates an outcome of harm, not healing. Words do matter. They can be as fatal as a bullet.
Today, take a break from what riles you. Walk away from your computer, TV, or smartphone screen and breathe. Bend down and smell a rose, or walk through your neighborhood and say a warm hello to everyone you meet, or simply stare out a window and dream about something you stopped dreaming about when all this craziness first started.
When we take time to do these simple things, we interrupt the flow of our thinking and our focus shifts. We are able to redirect our thought process and become more willing to put down the weapons of our dissent. This gives the Lord time to speak to our angst and recalibrate our thinking. Under the influence of His love, a renewed sense of hope and trust will come to wash away our need to fire off comments at every passing opinion of which we might disagree.