Leaving Las Vegas
One thing is sure: our country (and the media) will not be leaving Las Vegas anytime soon. In the coming weeks and months we will continue to hear individual stories, probe key questions, and learn details of how this senseless massacre was carried out. Many questions may remain unanswered, but understandably, our nation is hungry to know what it can know.
But each and every day, all of us have been and will be leaving Las Vegas. We will leave the news coverage behind and head back into our daily routines and everyday commitments. But how will this tragedy change us? Beyond the grief and confusion and anger, what are we taking away from this awful event? What should we take away?
Of the many things with which we could leave, one must be the reality expressed in this passage from the New Testament, words written almost 2000 years ago:
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. (James 4:13-14)
Sunday evening's concert in Las Vegas was an event that inspired a sense of delight, not danger. No one attended that concert on Sunday night believing it might be the last place they would ever go. But for some it was. That fact should sober us. It should drive us back to what God tells us, in that passage from James, about our life in this world: “you are mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes”.
It is very easy to lose sight of this fact. And it is very easy to find supposed security in the things of this world. Jesus told a story about a man who went down that ultimately futile path:
“And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’  But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’” (Luke 12:19-20)
Not one of us is guaranteed a tomorrow. The fact is, within hours of reading these words, you could take your last breath. So could I. The issue is certainly not if. And it isn't ultimately when. The issue in light of this sobering reality should be and so. Acceptance. Readiness. Being prepared to face death is not something to put off until your 'sunset years' or the hospital bed. A shooting in Las Vegas, a storm in the Caribbean, an earthquake in Mexico. They are just the latest reminders that we are “mist that...vanishes”.
How can we be ready for that which is inevitable, and possibly imminent? We can consider the words of Jesus. No person has influenced history like Jesus, and no person has spoken like Jesus. Listen to what he said about this sobering reality:
Jesus said...“I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live,  and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26)
Our practical denials of death and daily distractions from that bitter end can't change our desperate condition apart from the God who made us. Only in Jesus will we find the forgiveness, reconciliation, and peace to prepare us for death, and consequently, for life itself. Without Christ, an eternity without God is all that awaits us beyond death's door. But with Christ, we can leave Las Vegas with hope-filled, spiritual sobriety.
And so...will you be ready? Better yet, are you ready now, if today was the day?