Jan 18, 2012

a wasted life (repost)

Rust Lake, Missouri- The gunman, Russell McGreggor, 26, entered the store and began to fire at will. He callously murdered seventeen people- three men, four women, two teenage girls, one teen age boy and seven children (two boys and five girls ranging from 16 months to five years of age). He then jumped from the third floor balcony to his death. This is the biggest tragedy Rust Lake has ever seen.
The news article was only the final statement on a life that had spiraled downward. The authorities never released the suicide note found at Russell McGreggor's house. They would never be able to peek into the mind of such a cold-hearted killer.

It was not always this way. Russell was born a happy child not far from where his life would one day end. His parents attended the local Pentecostal church regularly and he was very involved in the youth group as a teen and the visitation ministry up until the final year of his life. When he dropped out the church made many attempts to minister to Russell, but he refused all contact.

About a year and a half before his final day the descent began. Russell arrived home from work and found himself angry at the world. He was miserable at his job and he had just finished an argument with his girlfriend of two years, Missy Jennings. This time it seemed to be over for good. She had completed the call before he was through talking. He felt that was unforgivable. She also went to the local Pentecostal church.

Since it was Friday night, he would have to face her Sunday morning during the 10:45 service. He dreaded that. Fortunately it was a church of about 200, so he could try to blend in.

Sunday morning Russell skipped Sunday school because he was in Missy's young adults class. She was a capable teacher at 25 years old. She would use the provided workbooks and expand on the material to enrich the lesson. Her class included some young married couples because of her dynamic teaching ability.

When Russell arrived he took a seat in the back. He tried to sit as far from Missy as possible. To her credit, Missy never mentioned her spilt with Russell to anyone. After the service Missy even tried to approach Russell, but when he saw her heading his way, he made a quick exit.

Upon arrival at his house Russell found a message on his answering machine. It was Missy. She said that she hoped they could remain friends and that she was sorry it did not work out. Missy also said that she would be praying for Russell and that she would always care about him. She finished by saying, "Rusty, I do not regret our time together. I really appreciate you. I hope we can grow from our experiences together." Missy always called him Rusty because they met by Rusty Lake about three years before.

Russell did not accept Missy's graciousness well. He became increasingly bitter and would not talk to her. One time, about a month after they broke up, Missy tried to give Russell a card for his birthday and he tore it up in front of her. Missy cried. Russell hopped in his car and left.

His troubles at work grew. Russell's bitterness grew and he began mistreating his coworkers. He was placed on probation after several complaints and, finally, after threatening his boss with violence he was fired. At that time his life fell into a complete downward spiral. He wrote in his journal- "God! God! God!!! Why are you doing this to me??? Everything in my life is garbage. I have no girlfriend and no job now. All the people at work conspired to get rid of me. The phonies at church are making me sick!! And I am sick of Missy trying to make me look like the bad guy with all her nice talk. You need to make this better now!!!!!!"

His journal entries continued to slide downward into self-pity and accusation. He blamed God for everything and began to write about his abandoning his prayer life and time studying the Bible. At first it was confessing with a small twinge of remorse, but as time progressed, so did his anger. He began to question God and why he should pray and read to Bible and then to disrespect God and deny the Bible. He would work several low-wage jobs and did not do well at them.

Finally, he began to think life was all about "survival of the fittest" and that he did not seem to fit. He bought a gun. At first his plan was to simply commit suicide at his house. However, as his bitterness was tearing him up, he began to think of ways to "go out with a bang" as he wrote in the last entry in his journal. That was the day before his rampage at the store in Rust Lake.

On the morning of Russell's murderous attack he was brighter and happier than normal. The idea of revenge on the weak and unprepared (in his mind) was the first glimmer of joy he had known in well over a year. He loaded his pistol and brought enough cartridges to ensure he would get at least 25 shots off before he could be overpowered. He had no intention of allowing anyone to overpower him- he would turn the gun on himself before that could happen. He would take a position on the top floor- the store had three floors and a big open area in the middle that shoppers could look down to the bottom floor where there was a food court. "This will be like shooting fish in a bowl," Russell thought to himself.

As he took his position, he became excited and angry thinking about the last year and a half. His excitement grew as he saw a woman who resembled Missy in some ways- same blond hair, just a bit longer, and bright colors- Missy also wore bright colors all the time. He pulled out the gun and began to fire. He first took a few shots at this effigy of Missy. Then he took shots at people on his floor and everyone around him ducked to avoid the bullets. Then he began to shoot at the people in his "fish bowl." After firing about forty to fifty times (reloading quickly between cartridges) he realized what he was doing was evil. Alas, it was too late. He knew he was past the point of no return. As he tried to load another cartridge, the gun jammed and he was now virtually unarmed. As some people decided to rush him he thought that he had to take his life another way- shooting himself would not be an option as he had planned. Russell decided spontaneously to jump head first off the third floor as four men were about ten feet from him in an attempt to subdue him.

As Russell left the top floor he felt as if he were flying. In fact, his though for a split second was, "I didn't know I could fly." In the extremely short time from the third floor to the bottom floor Russell had a flood of thoughts- as if his life did truly flash in front of his eyes. He remembered Missy- thought how beautiful she was. What a shame things did not work out. He also thought of his childhood- the games he played with his family and his high school football career- he had hopes of making a college team on scholarship, but was not quite good enough for that. Russell then thought of God- was this all a mistake? How did he get to this point? God was his friend at one time. And as he was beginning to think about whether he believed God was real or not he felt the cold, hard reality of a floor ending the fall of a three-story leap. As he landed he saw dark red fire shoot outward from where he was. It only took a second to realize that was his blood. With his last thought before the darkness took him, Russell said to himself, "Now my soul will find rest."

In the instant that his death became final, Russell found himself in the presence of such intense light that he was stunned. It hit him harder than the floor after his plunge. He found himself standing in front of the God he had betrayed. His thoughts raced a bit and he grasped at a straw- the Baptists in the church down the road from his old church believed that once someone was saved they would never lose their place in God's family. God, knowing Russell's thoughts made it clear- "For you to have everlasting salvation Russell you have to have salvation to begin with." God paused as if to let the words sink into eternity before He continued, "Away from me, I never knew you."

The intense light was instantly transformed into an almost equally intense darkness. He tried to hold his hand in front of his face, but to no avail. He could not see his finger even when it poked his eye. This was a darkness so dark that it should require a term that was far beyond "darkness." He heard wailing- shrieks of tortured souls screaming for mercy, screaming to see even a speck of light. He heard shouts blaspheming God and hurling accusations at Him. He heard others begging for mercy, only to change their screams for mercy into cries of profanity. No vulgarity was spared. Russell began to awake to a pain searing at his flesh. He felt a fire burning him. It was growing in intensity. He felt worms eating at his flesh and could smell rotting and burning flesh. The pain was growing beyond his comprehension. As he was in the pains of death- to be dying forever, but to never die- he began to remember the times on Earth that he had such comfort and peace. It was all gone now. Then the Bible returned to his memory: "God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment..." (2 Peter 2.4 ESV) and "And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire." (Revelation 20.12-15 ESV) So this torture was temporary, eventually he would end up in the lake of fire. The pain would never end.

He screamed in pain- "God help me! Help me- I need you! Help me!" Then his cries for help turned into bitter, hate-filled screams of profanity aimed at God. It was at that time he realized. Something was missing... As his desire to scream at God rose again, he realized- God was not there. For the first time in his life he did not feel the presence of life around him. He heard the screams and felt his own burning, eaten flesh, but the ever-present God was no longer around. His reaction was to scream more vulgarity than he had ever used before at the God who was not there. He would do this for eternity- beg God and curse God and suffer the consequence of his rejection of God's sacrifice of Himself on the cross for the salvation of those who would believe.

He was surrounded by others in torture, but could not communicate with them- nor could he see them. He was isolated from them. Additionally, he was isolated from God. His birth was a day he now regretted. Everything he had done, all the accomplishments, all the friendships, everything in his life, now meant nothing. He was totally and finally alone forever. His soul found no rest. His was... a wasted life.

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