I live in Orlando and have for the past nearly 25 years. I can distinctly remember where I was when the attack on September 11, 2001 occurred in New York. I was shocked and appalled because this was the first terrorist attack on American soil and I watched it play out. I remember reading about the bombing at the Boston Marathon, but I live far from there. I used to live in San Bernardino, so I paid a little closer attention to that attack.
Sunday was a whole different story.
I don’t frequent the downtown area. I live about a half hour away. I had heard of The Pulse nightclub, but had never seen it before. I don’t know anyone who was killed or injured in Sunday’s massacre. But I have friends who were directly affected. And every time I open any social media app, I’m bombarded with images or words. This time, terror came to MY town.
But something hit me last night as I watched “How to Train Your Dragon 2” with my husband and daughter. If you haven’t seen the movie, the following is a spoiler, so you may want to skip a few paragraphs. In the story, Toothless, a Night Fury dragon, is held captive to a “spell” by the alpha dragon of an evil tyrant bent on destroying pretty much everyone. Toothless’ best friend, Hiccup, tries to reach him, but the hold is strong. While under this “spell,” Toothless attacks and kills Hiccup’s father, Stoic.
Understandably, the attack devastates Hiccup and he lashes out at Toothless, angry and grieved. But Hiccup’s mother tells him that she knows Toothless didn’t mean to. He was just under the control of the alpha and couldn’t do anything about it. The draw was too strong.
In the end, with love, gentleness and patience, Hiccup reminds Toothless of their love for each other: “I’m right here, Buddy. You’re my best friend.” Toothless is released from his spell and is able to help vanquish the evil one.
What does this have to do with a terrorist attack? Or a lunatic killing an innocent singer, or anyone who hates and kills and destroys?
Because, believe it or not, those who do such things are not our enemies. Omar Mateen is not our enemy. Radical Islamists are not our enemy.
Satan is our enemy. Satan has taken control of some. And Satan is in our city.
Have you heard hatred and blame spewed on blogs and Twitter in the past 4 days? That’s not Jesus speaking. That’s Satan.
In the Bible, Peter, one of Jesus’ disciples writes, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (I Peter 5:8).
Omar Mateen was devoured by Satan. Like Toothless, he had no choice but to do what he did because he had allowed hate to fill his heart. Those who have hate filling their hearts can do nothing but evil. Make no mistake, I believe Mateen is responsible for his choices, and he has lost all hope of redemption because he is dead.
But for all who still have breath in their bodies, there is hope. Hope that good will overcome evil, but only if they put off all evil in their hearts. Do not, I beg you, give Satan a foothold by listening to his lies and perpetuating them.
Do Christians hate gays? No. But Satan does. Satan hates everyone.
The thief (Satan) comes to steal, kill and destroy. Sound familiar? But Jesus came that we might have life, and have it abundantly (John 10:10).
Choose life. Tell Satan he can’t have your city. How do you do that? By living like Jesus. Serving, loving, valuing life.
Oh, and I’ve read the last chapter of the Book.
Satan loses. Jesus wins.