No one really knows all that was going through the mind of the man who decided to blow himself up in his RV outside of the AT&T center in Nashville on Christmas Day. There are pieces of information which can be pieced together based upon what he said and wrote. We do know his girlfriend reported to the FBI/police years ago he was making bombs at his place. That investigation did not turn anything up. We do know he held to some fairly extreme viewpoints connecting the 5G network to the spread of the coronavirus and other views. And we know this — he parked, he warned the police, to clear the streets and surrounding buildings time and again, played a countdown and he set off a horrific bomb.
From this last behavior — how he sought to warn people so as to reduce collateral damage — we might discern he was an individual, who no matter what he may have felt about anything else, cared for people.
A friend in Nashville wrote this to her family:
“I don’t know how much of this you are seeing on the news, but the Christmas morning bombing here in Nashville was totally awful. It literally looks like a war zone which is the sentiment expressed by military people who have actually been on the ground where war bombings have taken place in other places of the world.
“There were 42 buildings in the historic district totally destroyed because of structural damage, etc., as a result of the bombing. The RV bomb was parked right outside the AT&T building which is near the famous AT&T landmark of the city known by locals as the “Batman Tower”. Emergency 911, hospitals, stores, banks, Post Offices, etc. were all impacted because all computer systems were down. It is my understanding that some of Kentucky, Alabama and Georgia were also affected because this is the regional AT&T hub.
“The bomb blast awakened me at 6:30 on Christmas morning. When I turned on the TV later, I found out what the noise had been.
The FBI was called in immediately. It felt like the 9/11 coverage when the towers in NYC were bombed. There were many projections as to cause and reason. But in the end it turned out to be one perhaps mentally deranged person who truly did not want to take any other lives given the extreme warnings he broadcasted to evacuate the area. Praise God, no one other than he was killed.
“The most powerful testimony came from the 6 officers who are credited with evacuating the area. They are being called heroes and rightly so. The interview with 5 of the 6 yesterday morning was emotionally moving. They were all moved to tears as they told their stories.
“Officer Wells gave an amazing testimony of God’s intervention. I have copied his testimony here from facebook:
Reporter: “You talked about a moment where your thinking kinda changed and things got real so to speak, as you were hearing that audio recording saying 5, 4, 3 minutes…”
Officer Wells: “No it wasn’t a consistent countdown. It was like a ‘Hello, this is a warning. For your safety evacuate the area,’ and that looped for a few minutes and as we were getting ready to go in the building it changed, saying, ‘You have 14 minutes to evacuate the area.’
“And that’s when my mindset changed and we started looking at the building, and there were cameras on the RV. Like surveillance cameras, above the mirror and below the hangover part. The RV sat in between the two. So it felt like whoever was behind it was watching it and for me it felt weird, you know, all of the cop lingo you hear about the spider senses and the hair standing up on the back of your neck, all that went through my body and the training immediately kicked in that we do, as far as staying calm, being vigilant and watching around us. So, that became my primary objective, as we were evacuating to look for any threats in the surrounding area.”
Reporter: “You mentioned hearing another voice…?”
Officer Wells: “Yes, it was God. I am a spiritual person and I truly believe when I do this job I’m led by that Voice. How I treat people, how I go about doing this job everyday, that’s what guides me. That’s why I truly believe what guided me, because I was literally getting ready to walk back toward that RV, and if you watch the video, you can see a moment of clarity for me when I heard God say ‘Go and check on Officer Topping.’
“And so I was peeking around, looking like this, and it was like ‘No, turn around and go check on Topping.’
“And so I turned around and started walking in the opposite direction, and then 3 seconds later, boom. So, yeah, I’m not going to shy away from that, because that’s what saved my life; that’s what enabled me to see my kids and my wife on Christmas. ‘Good to see you‘ has a completely different meaning for me now.”
“Officer Wells lost some of his hearing from the blast (temporarily or permanently, we aren’t sure yet), and only 3 citizens went to hospital with nobody was fatally killed, all because of these officers and the action of God.”
This is why I have been against de-funding the police. This is why they deserve so much more praise than they were given this past year. They are not all bad. Take Officer Wells, and his teammates for example. May God bless these officers, our city, and our world. #nashvillebombing#nashvillestrong(This is from a facebook post you can find using above hashtags. I edited it slightly for this publication.)
As hard as this situation was, as difficult as it made Christmas Day, this officer’s testimony of the grace of God in the midst of disaster struck me.
It reminded me how important it is to remember in the worst of times, in the hardest of situations, in the most dire of circumstances, God is not absent but present, there, alongside, with us. “You are with me…,” the Psalmist declares to God in Psalm 23. But in those dark, difficult times, often, God feels absent.
A friend just wrote the other evening, “I know God is with me, He just seems so far away or maybe just uninterested in my plight.” Do you recognize those sentiments?
I was struck with this thematic, again as I again read the Harry Potter books. After a main character, named Dumbledore, dies, who is a symbol of right and goodness and love to Harry, Harry struggles with what this character had not told him about the tasks ahead. Harry becomes angry, makes assumptions for a time, wondering such things as, “Well, if he had really loved me, wouldn’t he have told me that too?” And in this Harry reminded me of myself with God. When things don’t unfold as I imagine they ought to, then, I can become frustrated, even angry with God. Harry and we discover, what we have not been explicitly told, God will unfold to us over time.
Babbie Mason’s old song is a great reminder to this basic truth:
God is too wise to be mistakenhttps://genius.com/Babbie-mason-trust-his-heart-lyrics
God is too good to be unkind
So when you don’t understand
When don’t see His plan
When you can’t trace His hand
Trust His Heart
The chorus from this song has been on repeat in my own heart the past two weeks. I cannot trace the hand of God in some of my own life’s situations, but still I come back to trusting God’s heart. God will use this for good. I will look for the good. Breathe in Jesus. Breathe out anxiety.
Bombs go off in our lives figuratively in all kinds of ways — losses, illnesses, accidents, arguments, disruptions in life — so, when they do, join me: look for God. God is there, perhaps whispering, saying: “Go check on that.” Do so.