Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? 7 If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.” Genesis 4:6-7
It’s been almost a week now. Almost a week since the lives of one family I dearly love have been inexorably changed. Ten people. Two dead. One wounded. One who will most likely be in prison the rest of his life at age 31. One mother, and my dearest friend, left with a gaping hole in her heart. Three children who have lost their parents as no children ever should. One Father grieving the loss of his wife and daughter. All for what? Because sin crouched at Kenny’s door and he did not master it.
Oh, Kenny! My heart is so grieved and it cries out! Oh, Kenney! Why did you take a loaded gun with you? Why, why, why, why, why! “Leave it at home, Kenny”, I would have counseled had he asked. “You’re upset; no, you’re distraught. Please! Don’t take that gun with you!” So many things so many could have said; would have said. But, in an instant, in the midst of an ugly confrontation, he took out that gun and shot and killed his wife and mother-in-law and then exchanged gunfire inside the house where his three boys were and wounded his father-in-law. Oh, Kenny!
My precious friend just lost her husband almost three years ago. As she told me of the unfolding events we cried together over the miles. She is out in California; I am here in Tennessee. I wanted to be there, hugging her and crying with her face-to-face. I loved Kenny and I still do. I’ve known him since he was about ten years old. He and his brother are like sons to me and our boys are like sons and brothers to them. Our families are stuck together with love glue and always will be. Oh, Kenny!
We read on the news about murders taking place and we say it is justice when they receive life in prison or the death penalty. Michael and I were talking about that and it hit me that I’ve said that so many times, but, now…oh, Kenny; not Kenny! Not our dear Kenny facing life in prison or death row. It just couldn’t happen; it just isn’t real.
I remember waking up last Wednesday morning. I went to get my robe out of the closet and shook my head. I kept trying to clear my head thinking it must have been a nightmare. You know the feeling; one of those terrible dreams you are so glad wasn’t real when you wake out of it. But, there was no shaking this one off. It was real and I still can’t wrap my brain around it completely.
What is it that causes things like this to happen? How can someone feel enough rage and despair to kill another person? I just can’t relate to that. I think once I threw something (unbreakable) across the room and I’ve slammed a few doors in my lifetime. But, that was the extent of it. The only answer is back to what God warns Cain about in Genesis: “Sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you but you must master it.” Sin was crouching at the door. Satan wants nothing better than to destroy families and people. Kenny’s wife may have been involved with another man. They had been having marriage issues and were heading towards divorce. Some might call this a ‘crime of passion’. But, the best description isn’t really that complicated. It was simply sin. Sin got the better of Kenny. In a moment; in as much time as it takes to pull the trigger on a gun twice, he forfeited through his own choice what was left of any kind of a normal life. In an instant he lost any opportunity he would have had to hug his kids; take them to the park; watch them play ball; meet their first girlfriend; see them walk down the aisle on their wedding day and hold his first grandchild. Never again will he be there to celebrate their birthdays or open Christmas presents with them. Never, never, never; a lifetime of ‘nevers’. Oh, Kenny!
I believe there exists within each of us the propensity towards good and the propensity towards evil. I don’t understand sometimes what stirs within each of us to pull one trigger or the other. As Christians we have the Holy Spirit residing within us whose job is to convict us of sin and wrongdoing and, as long as we listen, He does a great job of that. But, also living inside is a sin nature that is constantly at battle with us selfishly desiring to pursue those ‘lusts of the flesh’. Anger is a lust of the flesh. It is sin. It crouches at the door desiring to master us. If you are angry, my friend, you must not allow it to master you. You must master it. You master it through prayer and meditation on God’s Word. You master it by making yourself accountable, getting godly counsel from other mature Christians and seeking help if you need it. But what you don’t do is allow it to rule over your life. The truth is that if we do not master our lives, our lives will master us.
Is there hope for Kenny? Of course there is. Life in prison isn’t an easy one. It is a life of deprivation. However, at the same time, it can be a reasonable life. People can accomplish things in prison. They can gain knowledge, skills and even college degrees. There are Bible studies and church services. There are things with a semblance of ‘normalcy’. And, God can work just as well inside prison walls as He can anywhere else in the world. People can find peace in prison. Many have done all of those things. There are challenges, but, we all have challenges. There’s just a different set of them, but, they can be overcome just like the challenges outside prison walls can be.
In God there is always hope. The hope I wish for Kenny is a repentant heart that is seeking to be in all ways right with its heavenly Father; right within its owner, and a right witness to others no matter what the future will hold. My hope also includes healing and restoration for Kenny and comfort for his grieving family and father-in-law. My hope is that they can somehow, someday, be comforted enough to accept that which they can’t change and begin, once again, to rebuild a life without Kenny’s presence. My hope is that joy will return to their lives. My hope expands to his children who, at ages 2, 5 and 9, can return to some kind of a stable, normal life so that they can heal from the trauma they have experienced. And, for me, my hope is that I can be the support I long to be for my dear friend…and that I will someday stop crying. That hasn’t happened yet, but, I know that with the Lord’s help, it will.
Does God still love Kenny? Of course He does. Can Kenny be forgiven? YES! Murder is both a personal sin and a capital crime, but, there is no sin that cannot be forgiven by God. If you are reading this, please join me at the throne of God in prayer for this family. This pain and sadness will never really go away, but, things will get better in time. In the meantime, they need lots of prayer and support. Once again, they need the Lord more than ever. How thankful I am that His well never runs dry; His love is unfailing and His hope is eternal.