The innocent, faithful 17-year-old girl sat eating her lunch that tragic afternoon 14 years ago. As evil crept toward her, nestled within her backpack was the prototype of good – a heartfelt journal where the young girl poured out her love and Christian faith in letters to her savior.
Just moments after she sat down, Rachel Joy Scott was shot in the leg. She tried to run, but she was then shot in the chest. As she tried to crawl away, the deranged gunman grabbed her by her hair and asked her that fateful question: “Do you still believe in God?”
Rachel said yes.
And the shooter, who she had lovingly shared Christ’s word with just three weeks earlier, shot her in the head and ended her life.
As we commemorate the 14th anniversary of the Columbine Massacre, where 13 innocents died, still, we have chosen to ignore the underlying problem at the root of many of these school shootings – “evil in the hearts of men.”
Darrell Scott, Rachel Joy’s father, laid out this fundamental problem in a testimony before Congress, saying “when something as terrible as Columbine’s tragedy occurs, politicians immediately look for a scapegoat such as the NRA; they immediately seek to pass more restrictive laws that continue to erode our personal and private liberties. We don’t need more restrictive laws. Eric and Dylan, [the shooters], would not have been stopped by more gun laws or metal detectors. No amount of laws can stop someone who spends months of planning this type of massacre. The real villain lies within our own hearts.”
And therein lies the key truth: Even if you ban the weapon – the gun that was used in the Sandy Hook shooting or the knife that was used in the Lone Star Texas stabbing last week – the root of the problem still exists.
Scott began his testimony with these words, “Since the dawn of creation, there’s been both good and evil in the heart of men and women… We contain the seeds of kindness and the seeds of violence.”
And America is all too familiar with the seeds of violence.
I am horrified to think of where this country stands 14 years after Columbine. Did you ever imagine that 31 school shootings would follow the Columbine massacre?
Did you ever think Columbine, which was the worst school shooting in US history at its time, would soon become the third deadliest with Virginia Tech, where 32 people died, as the first?
Did you ever imagine nearly a decade and a half after Columbine, we’d see the unthinkable massacre, not at a high school, but at Sandy Hook Elementary School, where 20 babies and six teachers were mercilessly killed?
Did it ever cross your mind that you’d be unsafe at a movie theater like in Aurora, Colorado or a political event like in Tucson, Arizona?
This, unfortunately, has become the reality of the world we live in.
Darrell Scott, in his speech before Congress, called Columbine “not just a tragedy” but “a spiritual event, which is forcing us to look at where the real blame lies. Much of that blame lies here in this room.”
He soon after read a poem to our elected officials that so accurately encapsulates the problem.
“Your laws ignore our deepest needs,
Your words are empty air.
You’ve stripped away our heritage,
You’ve outlawed simple prayer.
Now, gunshots fill our classrooms,
And precious children die.
You seek for answers everywhere,
Then ask the question ‘why?’
You regulate restrictive laws,
Through legislative creed.
And yet you fail to understand,
That God is what we need.”
Scott understood something that our nation would be wise to acknowledge: The true remedy to our nation’s ills does not lie in laws, in regulation, or in the halls of Congress. Rather, it lies in changing the hearts of men and in turning back toward a God we have so readily forsaken.
As Congress tries relentlessly to squelch religious liberty and remove God from our public buildings, our schools, and our heritage, let’s choose instead to honor the written word of Rachel Joy Scott this April 20th: “I am not going to apologize for speaking the Name of Jesus. I am not going to justify my faith to them, and I am not going to hide the light that God has put in me. If I have to sacrifice everything… I will.”
And Rachel Joy Scott did.