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Wednesday, February 27, 2013


On April 20, 1999, I was at the airport in Sacramento, waiting for a flight to take me home after a meeting at the Caltrans research office.

On April 20, 1999, seventeen-year-old Cassie Bernall was asked if she believed in God. When she said yes, Eric Harris shot her to death. She was in Colorado, at the Coumbine High School.

It's easy to talk about martyrdom. All but one of Jesus' Apostles were killed for their faith, as have been uncounted thousands in the centuries to follow. Most Christians secretly harbor the wish that they might have the chance to put their life on the line for Jesus, to truly demonstrate that they'll follow Him to the end. (And most, like me, would prefer to survive that kind of encounter, to be able to blog about it later.)

Facing the real thing is something else, and when you come up against a real-time example of that kind of steadfastness, it's sobering, because all the brave talk melts away into an uneasy question: Would I have done the same?

The shotguns of our imagination are harmless, and shoot daydream shells. What Cassie faced was a black hole leading to Eternity, already smelling of spent powder.

The atmosphere of our dream-life places us on a pedestal, with background music by Vangelis (remember Chariots Of Fire?).

Cassie was hiding under a table, probably clammy with the sweat of fear. The sounds she heard were scrams and shout, doors slamming, and the methodical footfall of her executioner.

She could have said no.

She said, "Yes."

(Subsequent information contradicted the story that she said anything, much less the strong affirmation of God's grace in her short life. A friend who was with her said that she merely prayed quietly.

Sounds like a "Yes" to me.)

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