When I started 8th grade, I was in the north of Haiti, attending a little mission school. At that time there were probably less than thirty students in the whole school. We had three classrooms, with 6th, 7th and 8th all sharing one classroom with one teacher. That year we had a new teacher that we had never met. She was a volunteer missionary teacher, probably in her late 50s. An American who had decided to take on the challenge of living in Haiti and teaching a small classroom of English-speaking students. I can’t remember her name. She was only my teacher for about a month and half before the country broke out in a war of sorts and all the Americans were evacuated to the States. But, despite the fact I knew her for such a little time, and probably wouldn’t even recognize her in a picture, she left me a humongous legacy. The first thing she had our class do was memorize Psalm 139. She didn’t give us very long to do so and after we were able to recite the whole Psalm in front of the class, she presented each of us with a brand new Bible. I remember it was a golden brown, hardback Bible with gold lettering. NIV. It was a beautiful Bible. But even more beautiful was having Psalm 139 become a part of my memory, a part of my thought process, a part of who I was. Over the years that Psalm has formed a foundation of how I see myself and how I see God. “Oh Lord, You have searched me and you know me.” I am known, fully, completely, by the living God. “You know when I sit and when I rise.” Nothing in my life is inconsequential to him. “You perceive my thoughts from afar.” God is listening to my thought processes and it doesn’t scare him off…I could go on through the whole Psalm, verse by verse, an amazing testimony to how loved I am, how cared for, how completely I am in his sight at all times.
This year I have been memorizing scripture with my kids on the drive to school every morning. We did 1 Corinthians 13 in the Fall and this Spring semester we have started on Psalm 139. Every morning I hear the verses, over and over again, and it is a wonderful way to start the day. It’s also very sobering. “Before a word is on my tongue, you know it completely Oh Lord.” Yikes. God is very aware that I yelled at my toddler today for spilling yogurt all over my jeans. Sorry Lord, please help me to be more patient! But, as I remind my children every day before they jump out of the car to go to school, God Knows You Completely, and He Loves You Completely!
These past two weeks we’ve been working on the verses, “If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me, even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.” I’ve been pondering what that means today, and I realized it really ties into something that happened this past week.
On Friday, during the school day, I got a call from our kids’ high school. .They were informing us that due to rumours that had been going around about possible gun violence, they had decided to put the school on a soft lockdown. All authorities had been notified and they were taking care of the issue. Ok. Unfortunately, we have had this call several times. We live in a rough neighborhood and even if something potentially dangerous happens close to the school, they put the school on a soft lockdown. I texted my husband to keep him informed, said a prayer for safety, and then really didn’t think too much more about it. Then a while later my daughter texted me from school. She said that the school had been put into a hard lockdown and she was scared. Unfortunately, she was in a large classroom at the time with a substitute teacher who was not really equipped to handle the situation. The teacher did not inspire confidence and my daughter was feeling very nervous. I told to her follow the teacher’s directions and I was going to see what I could do. I called the main office, but of course, it was a hard lockdown so they weren’t answering phones. I then asked some friends of mine to please pray, and I texted a teacher I know at the school, explaining my daughter’s situation, asking if he could find a way to send someone over to that classroom to help out the substitute. I checked in with my daughter again, and she said that the class had calmed down and things were looking better.
In the meantime my son was with the high school forensic team at a competition at another high school. My husband had been volunteered by our son to drive the team to and from the other high school in our van, so he was there as well. They were being told that due to the situation at our high school, they could not drive the students back until everything had been resolved. They had been told that someone had fired a gun. Lots of rumours were flying all over the place. And I was sitting at home, clutching my phone, not sure what to do except pray. Long story shorter, everything got resolved before the end of the school day, no one was hurt, life continues on. Aside from a residual stress that lingered for a couple days, all is well.
Later, thinking back on it, I wondered, should I be more freaked out about this? I can’t seem to muster up any fear. Is that odd? I don’t think so. There is evil in this world, but evil doesn’t keep God from seeing, from being present, from having power to act. “Even the darkness will not be dark to you…” How can I be afraid when I know that God is intimately involved with every single detail of my life, of my children’s lives. “…All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” How can I be afraid when God is in control? Does this mean that bad things will never happen to me and my loved ones? No. We live in a sinful world. Free will for me, means free will for those around me. There are no guarantees, except that God will always be with me, “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?” The only guarantee, the best guarantee we have is that God will never leave us. And if God, who loves me completely, is here, what else do I need?
Our family has been called to live here in this neighborhood. We have been called to put our kids in the public school system. We pray daily for safety and peace on the schools. We have been blessed greatly in our time here, the opportunities and experiences our children have been able to have so far have been amazing. Though the world is a dangerous place these days, we refuse to live in fear. “If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.”
God is good.
P.S. Just to make sure this is real. Knowing God is in control, not living in fear; this doesn’t mean I don’t have my episodes of being afraid, and it doesn’t mean that crazy stuff doesn’t stress me out. It does. But, when I am afraid, when I’m feeling the stress, I can come back to scripture and remind myself of God’s presence, his love, his involvement in my life, and somehow, it rolls off my back, and I can keep going.