Devotion in Motion: Sick at heart over school shootings

“For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” ~ Luke 19:10 (NKJV)

By Bro. John L. Cash, “Country Preacher Dad”

It’s been kind of hard for me to feel the Christmas spirit this year. The killings in Connecticut have broken my heart and have made me feel physically ill. Situations just don’t get any worse. I know that’s how you feel about it, too.

We’re all looking for explanations for why things like this happen. And we’re all looking for ways to guarantee that things like this never happen again. I don’t think there are any easy answers. And I don’t think there are any quick fixes.

Some people lament the discontinuation of Bible study and prayer in the classrooms of America and blame all our ills on the loss of them. As a public educator for almost a quarter-century, I can tell you truthfully that these things have never vanished completely from classrooms.

You may say, “Well, there are rules against having God and the Bible in American schools.” To that I would reply, “Yes, but all the schools I’ve ever worked at also have rules against bubble gum and cell phones, too. Even so, those two things are never totally eliminated in the classroom, either.

In every instance, the things that people strive to keep out of classrooms are pretty good at slipping in anyway. And  if you look, you’ll find God and His word in our American schools every day. You can’t lock Him outside. If you could, He wouldn’t be God.

As for school prayer, as long as there are final exams, you’ll have prayer in the classroom. It may be a silent prayer, unheard by anyone else, but that seems to be the kind that the Lord likes best. (Matthew 6:5,6) A school is really just a box that holds our society. Anything you have in society you will also find in school. There are a lot of God-fearing-and-decent people in our society.  Those people are found among the workers and among the students at schools, too. I rub shoulders with those fine folks every day of my life.”

Have you noticed the one thing all school-shooters have in common? They are always described as “loners” and “misfits.” The Bible uses a different word for them: “Outcasts.” Our Saviour Jesus always had time for the outcasts of the world. The first people on earth to worship Him were shepherds — who were considered to be the dregs of society in that time.

Jesus was the one who touched the lepers, healed the demon-possessed, and ate with the tax collectors and sinners. He was always reaching out to the outcasts, seeking to make them a part of “His group.” If He truly lives in our hearts, we will be striving to do the same.

I believe with all my heart that therein lies part of the solution to the scourge of school violence. It seems to me that school-shooters are broken people — people who have been hurt and are angry. Nothing hurts like being excluded, bullied, or ridiculed. You can bet that if Jesus were in a high school cafeteria and saw someone eating at a table alone, He would go invite them to sit with Him and His friends. So maybe if we reach out in love to those on the fringes of school culture, they might not be so angry. Maybe they wouldn’t lash out and kill others.

This is not a simple solution by any means. I don’t think we will always be successful. We are not going to always be able to win people over. But in my way of thinking, it’s worth a shot. We have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Prayer and Bible study are good things. I believe in and practice both of them. Prayer is talking to Jesus. Bible study is talking about Jesus. But what we need in these last days are more folks who are doing their best to live (and love) like Jesus in this fallen world. That’s our best hope. And probably our only hope.

Dr. John L. Cash is the “Country Preacher Dad.” He was raised in Stuttgart, Arkansas, and has spent the last 27 years being a country preacher in the piney woods five miles south of the little town of Hickory, Mississippi. (On week days has a desk-job at a public school and teaches Latin on closed-circuit-television.) He and his lovely wife, Susan, live in the parsonage next door to the Antioch Christian Church (where folks believe that “Jesus is the answer.”) The Cashes have two sons, Spencer (age 21), and Seth (age 18), who live in the parsonage, too, except when they are away at college. He would love to hear from you in an email sent to