When we spot any similar image on a TV screen, we tend to briefly stop what we're doing. We look to see if it's something important to us, or just some random item from across the country. Sometimes we shake our heads, and sometimes we are stunned.
Today, I was stunned.
But I didn't hear about it from the television news team. My phone rang.
My daughter was crying.
She said, "I need you to..." I don't remember the words she chose…
Help me focus? No. Talk me down? Maybe. Perhaps. Doesn't matter. She was in reaction mode
and needed to hear something that would make her feel better about her world at that moment.
There had been another school shooting.
Three of her children--my grandchildren--were in lock down.
My first reaction was what is always my first reaction—
He is my strength in times of trouble.
After culling all the information she had on the situation—it happened at a school next to her district; she knows some of the kids there; so far there were no fatalities being reported; two people had been care-flighted to a hospital; they have the shooter—I let God’s peace speak through me. I calmly reminded her that they don’t take dead people to the hospital by helicopter. I asked her if she remembered the school shooting where all the schools nearby got shot up, too. No. I told her she didn’t remember because it didn’t happen. Never (thank you, Jesus) has that happened. I reminded her that Satan loves it when we worry, and what the Bible says about worry. I told her that she needed to stay focused on what was real, and not what she could imagine.
We talked until she felt a fraction of my peace. Our girls were safe. Today. I reminded her of the temporariness of this world, and that eternity is waiting and Jesus is still Lord. And I meant it.
I did cry today. Once. After I knew the injuries weren’t life-threatening, after my daughter knew her babies were safe and sound, after all was well with our world again… I began praising God with song. Alone in the room, I sang, ‘Praise Him, praise Him, Jesus our blessed Redeemer…’ and the flood gates opened. Happy tears. Rejoicing in the faithfulness of our Lord. I was thankful for being able to remain calm and show that calmness to my daughter.
It’s because I practice.
The schools have to practice for these kinds of incidents to be prepared. Our armed forces practice to be prepared. Even public speakers practice to be prepared. We also must practice to be prepared. We practice by daily allowing God to be our strength.
If you practice something often enough,
it becomes your in-the-heat-of-the-moment gut reaction,
instead of the when-all-else-fails reaction.
No, I haven’t perfected it. I could still get caught off-guard by some extreme circumstance, and crumble to the helplessness of this human experience. But my odds are better. Odds are I will call upon the Name above all names.
Because I have practiced.
How do I practice? In my relationship with Jesus Christ, I talk to Him daily—pray without ceasing. I study His Word. I do not forsake meeting with my sisters and brothers in Christ—especially my sisters! I don’t know what I’d do some days without my great church friends. If ever I have a time of weakness, falling away from that gut reaction to take it to the Lord, I know they will pull me back.
We practice our faith. And practice makes perfect. Perfect peace in the storm.