My favorite line in one of those Lord of the Rings movies is where that old, tall guy with the white beard is in that cave thing (clearly, I’m not all that up on all of the details of LOTR, but I do enjoy the movies). The tall guy is running away from the monster, along with his crew of brave and terrified adventurers (surely, you know what I’m talking about). He turns around, plants his walking stick firmly in front of him and says, “You shall not pass!” And everyone catches their breath and thinks it’s all going to be alright.
Only it isn’t.
The tall guy turns his back for a split second, and that monster uses his tail to grab the tall guy by the ankles and pull him into the abyss. We stare at the screen in horror and think it’s all over. That he’s done for. And much later we learn that’s not true, either. That old, tall guy — Gandalf! (H just told me his name) — shows up later in the film, and he’s fine (I hope I’m not giving too much away).
Gandalf was right, though. The monster didn’t pass. It was tough going for a bit there. And dark and dismal and lonely and…well…bad. Really bad. Okay. Let’s not fool ourselves. It was hell. And if we gave up hope and turned the movie off or walked out of the theater, we never would have known the truth.
Psalm 23 says we “walk through” the valley of the shadow of death and the valley of the shadow is a hideous place. As difficult as it is to believe, here on December 17, 2012, the promise is that we “walk through.” I’m not saying that like I know it’s going to all be okay this side of heaven. And I’m not trying to prophecy anything. I’m simply reminding myself that the monster doesn’t get to pass.
The enemy of our souls does not win.
On Friday afternoon, a gentleman asked on Facebook, “Where was God when such a being was needed.. No where (sic) off playing golf most likely!” He wasn’t the only one wondering. For a minute, I could feel myself headed down that slippery slope with the guy on Facebook, but then I remembered the whole thing about Emmanuel and how that means “God with us” and how Jesus promised — promised — He’d always be with us. Never leave us. Never forsake us. And yesterday, H told us Jesus was there when the first responders arrived and headed straight for the shooter, and when the principal lunged at the shooter while telling teachers to close their classroom doors and lock them from the inside. Jesus was there when teachers shielded their students and read them stories in the closets.
The shooting was no act of God. The shooting was evil. And it may have wrapped its ugly tail around our ankles and pulled us into the stinking abyss. But this is not the end of the story. The enemy of our souls does not win.
I don’t think we’re supposed to put up with this anymore. I don’t think we’re supposed to shake our heads and say it’s too hard to figure this out because of the politics and the differences of opinion, because I really don’t think we disagree one bit when it comes to evil. I think we’re supposed to plant our walking sticks firmly in the ground, stare evil down and proclaim in our best outside voices, “This is the end of the road for you! You shall not pass!” I think we’re supposed to raise our brave, quivering voices, stand strong on our trembling legs and take Jesus at His word. I think from here on out, we plant our walking sticks and never turn our backs.