Seventeen years ago, I was 17 and in my junior year at Columbine High School. Rachel Scott was a classmate. Acquaintances, we smiled hello, when passing each other at school.
Rachel was the first person killed at Columbine on April 20, 1999.
This week, I walked into a theater to watch the movie her mom made about her life. I had a nagging worry that the film might be re-traumatizing. Fortunately, for me, I didn't experience any triggers -- the locations shown in the film are not the same as their real-life counterparts.
The heart of the film focuses on how Rachel learned to live her Christian faith. Her journals were the source material for the script. The story expressed in the film is a powerful witness that kindness and looking for godlike qualities in others will bring out the best in one another.
Yet tragically, Rachel was gunned down by boys unable to share these values. A poignant line from the film helps illustrates a way to reconcile this injustice.
"Forgiveness is one of those things that can change the world." With love and tolerance, forgiveness accomplishes miracles that can happen in no other way.
When I think of those impacted at Columbine that day, I'm reminded of a lesson from the Old Testament when Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego literally faced a fiery furnace.
"If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up." (Daniel 3:17-18)
How often have we prayed for an outcome that did not come how we wanted? How many times do we wonder if God listens to our prayers -- does He care? Faith helps us to hang on and thrive.
Dennis Simmons, a Christian scholar, said, "Faith is believing that although we do not understand all things, He does. Faith is knowing that although our power is limited, His is not. Faith in Jesus Christ consists of complete reliance on Him. We don't seek tribulation, but if we respond in faith, the Lord strengthens us. The but if nots can become remarkable blessings."
Rachel's family has taken their, but if not, to chase darkness away with light, helping schools and businesses become safer, more connected places to live and learn. More than 22 million people have been touched by Rachel's Challenge.
Simmons' concludes, "Our God will see that we receive justice and fairness, but if not. ... He will make sure that we are loved and recognized, but if not. ... We will receive a perfect companion and righteous and obedient children, but if not, ... we will have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, knowing that if we do all we can do, we will, in His time and in His way, be delivered and receive all that He has."