In him you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit.
"Payton is marked as safe at UNCC." Marked as safe. Those words have come to mean someone has survived a natural disaster or an attack of some kind. My friend from my home church growing up marked herself as safe and a wave of relief passed over me, even though I'd entirely forgotten she was attending the university. But then another feeling crept in, one that's been gnawing at me in the wake of the last few years of tragedies of nature and evil. Mournful compassion.
What about the families searching social media for any sign their loved one is okay and never see another post? My own family panicked when we heard the news. My brother-in-law is graduating from UNCC next weekend and we have plans to go attend his party. He wasn't immediately reachable. He's okay, and we thank God. But if we only thank God he's okay, we neglect what that means. Someone else's precious family member is one of the two who didn't make it or one of the four injured or the countless traumatized. For every few thousand "marked safe" is a person who is not. And is any of us safe in a world where tragedy is our new normal?
For us as believers, we of course, hope that the ones we love are indeed safe. But the safe we trust in is a safety of God's care. We are safe in God's arms living here or with God in eternal life. God has not called us to safety in this world, but to life in the next. We can go bravely to our schools and churches and the world because we are safe in that promise. And because we have work to do. We have work to do in seeking and saving the lost and loving those who seek violence. Our mission is to seek those who are angry and hurt and offer them love and compassion and help and to eliminate easy access to the means to harm others. We are marked as God's children. And we have work to do.