This morning’s news carried the cancellation of an Amber Alert for three missing children in the county where I work. An hour after I got to the office, I learned that I had known their mother, a frequent volunteer at our Salvation Army office. She had been murdered overnight.
Amanda had been working hard to keep the family together because her husband, an ex-con with a history of abuse, couldn’t get a job. He is accused of stabbing her to death in the parking lot of a fast-food restaurant. According to a local domestic violence prevention agency, she was preparing to leave him. She was 23 years old.
And I am reminded of what God told me about myself the first time I faced a similarly outrageous crime.
News people are sadly accustomed to even the most overwhelming tragedy. We become calloused and cynical, to the point where the darkest of humor becomes our refuge, the tie that bonds us to each other and binds us away from the human community.
But there was no laughter of even the most cynical sort as I walked off the elevator at dawn the morning after one particular murder. The Sun’s newsroom overlooked the parking lot of a local hangout, and that’s where the previous evening’s events had begun.
According to what our reporter learned, a young woman at the bar had been invited to join two young men in their car for a toke or two of marijuana. She had been so comfortable with them that she’d left her purse at the bar—maybe with a friend, I forget now. The toke turned into a trip to their apartment, whether against her will is unclear. But the multiple rapes were undoubtedly not her idea. Nor was the binding, or the drop into the river, a section of which we could also see from the office. According to the police, the two men watched her struggle against her bonds, observed as she drowned and died.
Then, they went out to breakfast.
Animals! was the consensus in the newsroom. Death was too good for them.
“Like you,” God reminded me. Jesus told his followers that God’s standards are higher than any parent, coach, minister, or teacher has ever laid on any of us.
“You think you’re good because you haven’t murdered anyone?” he asks. “Well, have you ever been angry with anyone? Because as far as I’m concerned, it’s the same thing.”
Which means death is too good for me—and probably for you, too.
My newsroom colleagues thought that was a pretty wacked-out point-of-view.
By the way, I knew the chaplain at the jail, so I heard a little more of the murderers’ story. One of them became a Christian. The other hung himself in despair.
The choices are that stark. Life or death. Which will you choose?
Copyright © Carlene Hill Byron, 2010