What will our answer be?

Have you noticed a total absence of follow-up news about the shootings in Norway?

Weird isn’t it?

We have such a bi-polar media. It obsesses for months over the mom of a murdered child. (Notice I didn’t say it obsessed over the murdered child, because there is a difference, and I think the emphasis from the get-go was more on the hot chick mom.)

But after dozens of children are hunted and shot down by a lunatic in a cop uniform,  the media has moved on in a few days time to more important stories, like the woman with 1,200 pairs of shoes.

At a memorial service on Friday in Norway, Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg said: “I think July 22 will be a very strong symbol of the Norwegian people’s wish to be united in our fight against violence, and will be a symbol of how the nation can answer with love.”

So it was at a folk festival 20,000 people held hearts skyward. It was Norway’s answer to the great evil that left so many of her children slain or wounded.

President Roosevelt’s 1942 speech, which served as an inspiration to many Norwegians fighting German occupation at the time, resonates once again:

“If there is anyone who still wonders why this war is being fought, let him look to Norway. If there is anyone who has any delusions that this war could have been averted, let him look to Norway; and if there is anyone who doubts the democratic will to win, again I say, let him look to Norway.

I’ve been thinking a lot about Norway this past week as I watched our church family grieve the drowning death of Zane Gaulke. I thought of Norway on Saturday as I attended the memorial service for Zane.

How does a country … a community … grieve so many of its youth at one time?

Pastor Kevin, our youth pastor, preached a sermon that was a great testament, not to Zane’s brief life so much as it was the eternal Christ he served. Pastor Kevin was in the ocean with Zane that day. He made it safely to shore. Zane did not, despite the desperate efforts of Kevin and others to help him.

It was an accident, horrific as accidents almost always are. Still there are some who would not have wanted Pastor Kevin to preach at their child’s funeral. There are some who might have had a difficult time being around those who survived. There are some whose grief would have lead them to search for someone to blame.

Zane’s parents didn’t do that.

They answered their own great anguish in the same spirit of those in Norway. They held out their hearts to Pastor Kevin and the others who were that day. They embraced Kevin and assured him that they know, despite their great grief, that Pastor Kevin and all those others there did everything they possibly could to save their son.

I’ve heard a lot of sermons in my lifetime. I suspect you have, too. But this weekend I witnessed one of the greatest sermons ever, by the way Zane’s parents responded to their son’s death.

Today, we sent another group of kids out on a trip. This one to Honduras on a mission. At church this morning, people gathered to pray over those going. I kept my eyes opened as I prayed.  There at the altar was Zane’s mama, kneeling, her hand on the back of another mother’s son, praying protection and blessing over that boy. Just the day before her own son had been rolled to that altar in a casket.

It was a scene I hope I  never forget. Grace like that ought to be headline news, but it’s not. Grace doesn’t make news the way evil does. I could barely find a photo of the hearts raised skyward in Norway.

This morning before I went to church I received the following email from a reader I don’ t know:

Dear Karen,

This has been a most horrific week for me.  One of the very worst in my whole long life.  Why – ?

Because I am originally from Oslo, Norway.  Transplanted to Maryland, USA, via California, via Minnesota, Via Apartheit, South Africa.

(12 years there. . .)

Words are not in my vocabulary;  Norwegian, English or Afrikaans that might remotely describe my state of  heart-head – mind – soul – body as a result of 7/22/2011 of my home town/country.  Just  “sick”  Maybe.  But,  fear is NOT part of it. As providence would have it;  in the midst of all this hurt, I find your book “Where Is Your Jesus NOW?”   in a book store in Washington, D.C. I started reading it the same afternoon …. T.

Where’ s your Jesus Now? is a question we all have to answer someday, sooner or later.

May each of us remember to look to Norway, to Zane’s parents before responding.

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  • “Grace like that ought to be headline news”

    SO true….

  • Wow. That scene you describe, of the mom praying for someone else’s son, is a powerful one. Sounds like a woman who trusts God, even in the hardest of things.

    • Karen Spears Zacharias


  • Such an incredible, beautiful scene to witness. Wow! I totally agree with James. Great Matthew West song!

    • Karen Spears Zacharias

      I’d never heard it until Zane’s service but it made me think of The Veteran and The Redhead.

  • Miss Karen,

    “Where’s Your Jesus Now?” was such a hard book to read. It was. It pricked at my heart, it made me remember sad things, and it convicted me. That being said, it has changed me in ways I wouldn’t have considered. Not only has the essence of it has lingered on the fray of who I am, but the message of the book serves as a great reminder of where He is (yesterday, today & tomorrow).

    And your words here just now… such a reflection of living in the midst of the hopeful anticipation of the glory that is to come. Thank you for seeing & sharing that. (Ever since I heard the sad news, my prayers have been with the family & community.)


    • Karen Spears Zacharias

      It is a hard book, Darlene. I agree. But then it’s about a God in the hard places of life. The places we fear most.

      Thanks for reading it and thanks for your prayers for these.

  • John in PDX

    My son and I had a discussion about role models and icons yesterday. He didn’t think there were any left. I started by talking about good people around him. His comment was that they are mentors not role models.

    Zane’s mother is a role model and an icon in my eyes.

    • Karen Spears Zacharias

      John: I agree. She is all of those. Think of what her life story will say to those youth in 10 years time. As I told Pastor Kevin, this will mark your ministry. It’s up to you to decide whether it will strengthen it or weaken it.

  • Adam

    While I understand that the main thrust of this article was the tragic, accidental death of young Zane, you did express surprise (as I inferred) about the “total absence of follow-up news about the shootings in Norway”. The reason seems clear enough to me: the terrorist, in this case, was a Conservative Christian.

    Once we all understood that he killed those young people because he didn’t want them to live to become the next generation of liberal, multi-cultural, Muslim-enablers, the major media outlets (here in the States) dropped the story. It became difficult to condemn him, as extreme ideologies, such as those the killer subscribed to, are often aired as legitimate positions on those same media outlets.

    • Karen Spears Zacharias

      Wow, Adam, she says shaking her head sadly. I don’t think Breivik was a Conservative Christian at all… at least not in any Biblical sense.

      Do you really believe that?

      And I don’t know what media you’ve been subscribing to. Can you give an example of what it is you see as the media outlets airing such whacked thinking as legitimate?

      • Adam

        He’s frantic about Muslims overrunning Christian countries, vehemently pro-Israel, blames feminism for unraveling traditional society, admired the Tea Party and wanted to start one in Norway, described himself as a Christian Crusader..

        The sort of hysterical Islamophobia, hatred of socialism, and belief that the two are somehow in cahoots, upon which the likes of Michelle Bachmann, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin (et al) have founded their careers, also (apparently) inspired Breivik’s atrocities. I cannot speak to whether or not these ideals have a Biblical basis per se; though I suspect those who hold to these beliefs believe they do.

        Jon Stewart did a bit about it: http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/wed-july-27-2011/in-the-name-of-the-fodder?xrs=share_copy

  • Nimeu930

    I just found this article today. I thought it was beautiful and very touching… Zane is my nephew… his wonderful mama, my sister… Thank you for your words…