MARY REICHARD, HOST: Today is Tuesday, September 24th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.
NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. Personal trauma can inform our walk with God in profound ways. Here’s WORLD Radio’s Leigh Jones.
LEIGH JONES, COMMENTATOR: As we walked into church on a recent Sunday, my husband said, “Let’s sit somewhere different.” I grudgingly agreed, because I dislike having my routine disrupted.
He picked a spot on the far right side of the sanctuary, and as expected, I didn’t like our new vantage point. I could only see the left side of the pastor’s face.
But that’s not what distracted me through most of the sermon. I found myself regularly stealing glances over my shoulder at the doors behind us. They’re right in front of a side entrance to the church that doesn’t get much foot traffic. It would be easy for someone to slip through those outer doors unnoticed.
Our church began increasing security measures in 2017 after the mass shooting at Sutherland Springs, a couple of hours away from us. But over the summer those plans kicked into high gear when a suspicious-looking man with a backpack walked in and asked if our sanctuary had a balcony. Now we have a volunteer security team patrolling the campus on Sunday mornings.
From my seat at the edge of the sanctuary, I watched them rotate in and out. As I thought about my daughter in the kindergarten classroom down the hall, my heart beat a little faster. It’s one thing to think about a gunman pointing his weapon at you. It’s another thing to think about that happening to our only child.
I began to wonder why we didn’t have armed guards instead of the watchful security patrol.
A few days after that disquieting Sunday seat change, I saw a story about a thwarted robbery here in the Houston area. A woman shot a man as he tried to reach into her car window. She told a local television station, “I saved my life.”
Despite my recent musings about arming our church security team, my immediate reaction was, “No, you didn’t. You didn’t save your life at all. God did.”
I have an admittedly complicated relationship with guns. I grew up around them and learned to use one when I was pretty young. My dad was a strong proponent of personal safety and always carried a loaded gun in the car. When he was making the rounds on our rural property, he clipped the gun to his belt. It seemed to me that he could handle any situation, defend himself and us against any threat.
But in 2001, he was shot to death. Murdered by someone who snuck into the house and ambushed him. We’ll never know all the details of what happened, but we do know he left his gun in the car’s glove box that day. We think it was because he’d stopped at the grocery store on his way home and had his hands too full to grab it before he walked inside.
I used to wonder whether that terrible day would have ended differently if he’d had his gun. Surely he could have saved his life like that woman in Houston.
But his life was never his to begin with. It always belonged to God, who numbers all our days (Psalm 90:12). A gun could not have saved my dad’s life if God had determined it was time for him to go home. And his murderer could not have touched him if it was God’s will that he stay here with us.
I still struggle with the human desire to control my life and shield my loved ones from harm. But I trust in God’s sovereignty. I know from experience that’s the only true protection we have.
For WORLD Radio, I’m Leigh Jones.