Learning to cope...
Well, exactly one year ago today, Jason and Lindsay were enjoying their last day together here on earth. Little did they know that in mere hours, they would die at the hands of a killer... and enter into God's Kingdom for eternity.
Their untimely and cruel manner of death is a harsh scenario to grasp... even though I know it is a reality. I am thankful, however, that their deaths were instantaneous... because anything else would be more than I could bear. I am thankful, as well, that they didn't see it coming... I believe that is by God's grace. One minute, Jason and Lindsay said "goodnight" to each other and fell asleep under the stars... and the next thing they knew, they were entering heaven! That is a sweetness that brings so much hope.
I spent this day last year visiting with friends of mine who traveled several hours to attend my sister's wedding the night before. Since I hadn't seen them in a long time, we laughed and talked and enjoyed each other's company. I had no idea of the chaotic and emotionally tumultuous week that would soon follow. My life has changed completely in the past year. Nothing will ever be the same... but I am actually grateful for that. God has really shaken some Truth into my life that I was ignorant to prior to the weekend of August 14 last year. I knew, full well, the gift of Salvation that I had received when I became a Christian at a young age... but I didn't really know what it meant to live for Christ with a passion. I lived a good life, made good choices, and volunteered for things in my community that I felt were worthwhile, but I was missing something. I was not living with the awareness that each day is a precious gift and that we need to live like each day is our last. I was not making an effort to live outside of my comfort zone for Christ... I was living "comfortably" and never really pushed the envelope. I have been made much more aware, in this past year, that there is so much more to life than just living a comfortable little cozy Christian life. We, as Christians, are the hands and feet of Christ and we need to go out there and make a difference! What will you be able to say on the Day of Judgment when Christ asks you what you've done with your life? Were you faithful? Were you fruitful? What have you done with your life that will make a difference for ETERNITY? That's what it comes down to... we need to live our lives with a passion for Christ! We need to heed the words of martyr Jim Elliot... "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." Furthermore, the words of missionary Charles Thomas Studd also ring true, "Only one life, it'll soon be past; only what's done for Christ will last."
There is a really good article in our local paper, marking the one-year "anniversary" of the weekend, last year, during which Jason and Lindsay died:
Seeking sense in senseless killings...
Year has gone by since couple shot on beach; families coping...
Sunday, August 14, 2005
By RICHARD HARROLD | Staff writer
Hanging on a dining room wall in Bob and Delores Allen's home is a framed photo of a beach sunset that was retrieved from their son's camera.
Beneath the photo is an embroidered inscription authored by their son, Jason Allen, sometime before he and his fiancee, Lindsay Cutshall, fell asleep for the last time on an isolated northern California beach.
Jason wrote it in a log book found at the beach near Jenner, Calif., where the couple was shot to death last year.
"As I stir this Mac & Cheese I think to myself what a wonderful life," reads the inscription. "I've just spent two awesome days with my fiance Lindsay. Can life ever be so perfect? Only with a person who is so great. God gives me this privilege in life and He has given me a wonderful woman to enjoy it. Jason from MI. Aug. 14 04."
Jason and Lindsay were murdered one year ago today, each shot in the head while they slept in separate sleeping bags on a lonely stretch of sand called Fish Head Beach, about 90 minutes north of San Francisco along the Pacific Coast Highway.
Police are still looking for the killer, who likely used either a Marlin semi-automatic or a Marlin lever action .45-caliber rifle. A $50,000 reward has been offered through the Sonoma County Sheriff's Department for information leading to an arrest and conviction.
Looking at the beach sunset photograph in her Holland Township dining room, Delores Allen said she and her husband believe Jason took it the same evening he and Lindsay were killed. When asked if she has any desire to visit that spot, she shakes her head.
"Not at this time," she said. "There may come a time when I'll change my mind, but not now."
For both the Allens and the Cutshalls, it's been a rough year.
"Some days I weep all day off and on," Delores Allen said.
"It is just absolutely senseless that someone would kill our kids who had no enemies," said Lindsay's father, Chris Cutshall. Her parents live in Coshocton County in Ohio, about an hour south of Akron. Their home is along a state highway near Fresno, a town of about 200 residents, "the type of town people often like to say 'counting the dogs and cats,'" Chris Cutshall said.
Lindsay's mother, Kathy Cutshall, admits at times she wonders about the killer -- who he is and why he did it. But she comes back to an important part of her faith -- that life on Earth doesn't mean everything is OK all the time.
"But it is in Heaven," she said. "God will take care of this person, and I'm so glad that I don't have to.
"I believe he will be caught."
Their faith in a sovereign God is what the Cutshalls and the Allens credit with keeping them from dwelling in the darkness of anger and bitterness.
Jason's mother said she tries to avoid thinking about the killer and why he did it.
"It's beyond our comprehension who would be this evil," she said. "For some reason, God has allowed this to happen. We believe completely in the sovereignty of God. If it's not solved here in this world, we know it will be solved in the next."
The parents find strength in each other, which has led to a close friendship. They knew they would be friends as in-laws after Jason and Lindsay were married, but as they came to know each other through the bond of their shared grief, they found support and empathy with each other.
The couples will spend the weekend together in a Michigan cabin, helping each other through the first anniversary of the slayings.
"You can take some of the bite out of it," Bob Allen said.
The Allens and Cutshalls have also decided that they aren't going to bother investigators in California, although they have remained in close contact.
The Allens said it was comforting to see, while they were in California in June, many of the investigators had photographs of Jason and Lindsay tacked up in their cubicles.
"It was encouraging to us to see how they've taken this case to heart, because this case is different," Delores Allen said.
A full-time team of six detectives is devoted to the case, putting in overtime to investigate, said Lt. Dave Edmonds of the Sonoma County Sheriff's Department.
"The level of tragedy isn't lost on anybody here," Edmonds said. "You have to press and make your own breaks."