Written on April 20th.
Today is the 10th anniversary of the school shooting at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. This is one of those dates that is both near and far in my mind. On one hand it seems like more than a lifetime ago. A lot happens in ten years doesn’t it? Ten years ago I had no children, I now have two with me and one in heaven. I was in my mid-20’s trying desperately to prove that I could be all that God had called me to be and at times, in my own youthful, stubborn way believed that I had already become all those things. I am now in my mid-30’s, still desperate to be all that God created me to be but I have come to know that there is still much work to be done in me so that there can be more work done through me. Ten years ago I was nearing the end of a five year season as an assistant pastor. I was absolutely sure I was ready for more; more responsibility, more freedom, more of everything. I am now a pastor, and after almost nine years of pastoring I know more than ever that “He must increase, but I must decrease.”
While ten years changes so much and while the events of April 20, 1999 seem very far away most days they are also very near. I don’t want to write anything that would take any of the attention or affection away from those that suffered that day and continue to suffer because of that day, but the events of Columbine are a marking point in my life. I had grown up hearing people talk about where they were the moment they heard the news that President Kennedy was assassinated. My generation was forever changed by September 11, 2001; I was changed by Columbine. I can’t explain why, I have no great explanation as to how it affected me but I can share this: as I watched the news, as I saw the parents waiting, franticly waiting, as I saw students being rescued and police bravely entering what could have been their own place of death I began to pray. For the first time in my life, I prayed for a situation that truthfully, didn’t affect me. Believe me, I had prayed plenty in my life, I believed in prayer, I practiced prayer, I taught prayer, but something different happened that day. I watched and I wept, I cried and I prayed, I called out to God, my heart broke even though I personally lost no one and yet I believe we all lost someone that day. I honestly believe that that day God taught me what it was like to be an intercessor, that He showed me a glimpse of what Jesus does at His right hand every moment of every day and of what the Body of Christ has the power and the opportunity to be.
As I wrote earlier since that day much has changed and yet this has remained the same, I am called to pray. I am called not just to have a quick word to make sure that I am covered. I am not called to simply give thanks for my meals or to pray for the safety of the ones that I love, I am called to pray. I have the ability, we all have the ability, to be led by the Spirit of God and to pray fervently for anyone at any time in any place. Just under 2 ½ years after Columbine the ministry of intercession was presented to us all yet again. As we watched the planes hit the towers in New York City we all began to pray. We prayed for anything and anyone we could think of. I remember vividly that night as our church gathered in a home together, we laid on the floor and cried out to God for mercy, for salvation, for last breathe opportunities, for healing, and even for resurrections. As a nation we prayed because again, we were all moved, we all felt as if we were losing someone.
Columbine has many legacies for many different people. Just the name brings up emotions. I am no different from anyone else, it has a legacy for me as well. Columbine’s legacy in my life is intercession. Ten years ago today I wept for lost souls, I pleaded for final opportunities, I cried out for the broken and asked for peace, for songs of deliverance, for hiding places that only come from God. I want to be very careful and share that I am not thankful for the events of that day but I am thankful for what God has done in my life. He has taught me that prayer knows no time, no boundaries, no distance, no language, no division. He has taught me to pray according to His grace and His power and not according to my feelings or my involvement. He has given me opportunities to pray for people every day that I will never meet, He has given me a charge to pray for cities, nations, and even entire races of people. I pray today that we will do much more than remember, let‘s pray. Days of remembrance are important but lives of prayer change eternity. Let us pray together for the redemption of our nation, for the glory of God to be revealed and for the hearts of all flesh to turn back to God. Today, may we not be crushed by loss but may we be stirred to battle; to wage war against the principalities and powers that fight for the souls of men. May the memory of Columbine produce action, action that will change more than a school or a city, but action that will change an entire generation. May all of our action be birthed in and funded by prayers that never cease.