It was December 21, 1988 when Pan Am Flight 103 from London to New York City exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland. There were 270 people killed.
One month later in January 1989, five school children were killed and twenty-nine wounded when a man jumped out of his car in Stockton, California and sprayed a crowded playground with gunfire.
The Lockerbie plane crash had already rattled me, and when the children in California were shot, I cried for days for the innocent victims. While mourning their deaths without having known one of them, I questioned the existence of God and my life purpose. Who was I and why was I here? I was fed up with all the death, destruction and negativity.
At the same time, I was teaching Sunday school and had a Bible study group for elementary school children. The news on television was twisting my mind out of control and I could not get the fear of those children out of my mind. I pictured over and over again the fear in their eyes and their pained cries for their mommies.
The conflicts running through my mind were so overwhelming that I decided to call my pastor, Tom Sale. When I called Tom, my anger had already manifested into rage. I was yelling and crying because I did not understand how this could happen to innocent people. I could not comprehend, if there was a God, how could this be happening. And if Tom was a man of God, how could he support a God that would let this happen to innocent people, especially the children!
Tom was patient and composed while I went into an emotional meltdown. Then he asked me to come out to the church so we could discuss the matter further. I slammed the phone down and sped off to his office.
I pulled into the church parking lot, tossing dust and gravel everywhere as I parked my car sideways. Slinging open the car door, I threw it shut to show God my rage and marched into the church fully prepared to blame Tom, God and anyone else that dared to walk in my path.
Mascara was running down my scarlet red face and I was sweating with anger. When Tom saw me, he stretched out his arms to hold me, and comforted me just like a father. He invited me into his office and asked me to sit down. I shouted back, "No!" But he persisted, "Loretta, SIT!"
He gave me a box of tissues and began, "Loretta, you know I like to jog." He initiated most of his sermons this way. With a tired voice I said, "Tom, please don't start with me!" Looking so peaceful and calm he said, "Loretta! You know I like to jog. And sometimes when I leave the house to jog, it's after a rain. And after a rain there are earthworms spread all over the pavement. As I look in the distance I can see the sun will be out soon. I know that when the sun comes out it will dry up the pavement and the earthworms will die. So as I'm jogging along, I stop and pick one up and throw it into the grass. And I jog some more. Then I stop, pick up another, and throw it into the grass."
I interrupted him and said, "Tom, I think I know what you are trying to tell me. You are trying to tell me that I can't save the world. I can only do what I can do." He smiled, nodded and said, "That's right."