(the post below was first published as a Facebook note on April 17, 2014, just a week after a school violence event at our high school – within a few days, the note had been shared over 25,000 times – my prayer is those it reached were impacted in a way to seek God in their life)
At 7:16 on Wednesday, April 9, 2014, merely minutes after I dropped my fifteen-year-old son off at school, my cell-phone buzzed on the kitchen table as I cracked an egg into a frying pan. At the same time, my sixteen-year-old daughter, who stayed home sick that morning, came into the kitchen. As I turned to ask her what she was doing up so early, she announced that she had received a text from her friend that “J*** had been stabbed”. Instinctively, I picked up my cell phone to read the text that caused the phone to vibrate only seconds before. The text from my son read simply, “People were stabbed. I’m ok. Be praying”.
We learned quickly that one of the students, armed with two 8″ kitchen knives, launched a violent attack in the hallway of his school before classes started, stabbing 20 of his fellow classmates and a security guard before being wrestled to the ground and taken into custody.
Over the past 12 years since my kids entered pre-school, not a day has gone by that I did not blanket them with prayer before they exited the car, or boarded the school bus, or entered the school. Undoubtedly because of previous school-violence incidents, these prayers have ranged from general prayers about their day to specific prayers to “keep them safe in the hallways”, prayers for specific teachers, administrators, and other students. I was not a parent who thought something like this could never occur in our school – I knew the possibility existed – simply because evil exists in the world. There had been times that I prayed (with them) that if something terrible occurs in their school that God would equip my children with courage, and to always stand strong in Him.
Over the next several hours and days, as details of the event unfolded, there were many thoughts that struck chords in me, ranging from the “What if” and “If only” ’s that are so common and natural to ask, to the “what now” ‘s and “how can we turn this mess into a message”. When I later learned that my son and his friend gathered people for prayer outside of the school amid the chaos, I was thankful that God has filled their hearts with compassion for others and a deep love for their Savior. I am thankful that, by His grace, my children know Jesus as their Lord and Savior.
Over the next few days, as my children and their friends and I visited their friends in the hospital, I was struck by another chord. Not one of the victims that we talked with had anything bad to say about their attacker. Most of them expressed surprise about the attack and sadness or compassion for their attacker.
Just the Sunday before the incident, our youth pastor shared that my son and his friend had talked with him a few weeks prior, asking why it was sometimes hard to share their faith with their friends – those with whom they had done “macaroni crafts” in kindergarten. He said, “I look at some of them and wonder what in the world happened since we did macaroni crafts together”. In the hours as the news was unfolding, my daughter said, “Mom, I did macaroni crafts with A*****– he was a nice kid – he dropped his macaroni and it went everywhere and I shared mine with him.” We have been praying for A**** and his family, along with the victims and their families.
I believe that God was in that school that morning – in the hallways, with His loving hand over the situation. His hedge of protection shielded many of the kids from injury. Even among the injured, I believe that God prevented the wounds from being worse. We are very thankful that, despite major life threatening injuries, not a single life was lost as a direct result of this attack. When the security guard was tackling the suspect, he yelled, “No, my work is not finished yet!” I can just about hear God’s voice saying, “No, MY work is not finished yet, son” as he blanketed the hallway with His protection.
I share this with you not to re-live a horrible ordeal, but to point to the Cross. The “blood that was spilled” has a whole new meaning as we approach this Easter Sunday and the remembrance of Christ’s sacrifice for us. You see, Grace hung on the cross, not only for those who loved Him but for Judas and Pilate and the soldiers who nailed Him there.
I’ve heard hundreds of people ask what would drive a student to carry out such horrific act. Was he bullied? Sad? Depressed? Hopeless? The truth is we don’t know. What we DO know is this: that God sent His Son to earth to pay for our sins – He does not want anyone to perish but wants all to come to repentance.
Romans 3:23 tells us that “ALL have sinned and fall short of His glory, and are justified freely by His Grace through the redemption that came through Christ Jesus.” Whether big or small, all of our sin keeps us from the presence of the Almighty, and it is only through Jesus, Our Lord, and Savior, that we can be reunited with the Father.
My dear friends, hear this cry this night – if you have not asked Jesus to forgive your sins, and do not have a friendship with Him as Lord and Savior of your life, I invite you to do that tonight. There is nothing more important on this earth.
This week was a stark reminder of all that can change in a week. Similar to the week that began with people shouting, “Hosanna” and laying Palms at His feet, ending a few days later with people shouting, “Crucify Him, Crucify Him!” You never know what a week will bring. You may say to yourself, “I’ll have time to make things right with God later”. I urge you to resist that thought – you may not have time later.
Now, in the quietness of your heart, while you have time to reflect on the gift that God gave through His Son Jesus, allow Him to draw you close to Him – to ask Him to become Lord of your life.
If you want to pray the prayer of salvation,
“Dear Lord Jesus,
I know I am a sinner, and I ask for your forgiveness. I believe you died for my sins and rose from the dead. I trust and follow you as my Lord and Savior. Guide my life and help me to do your will. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”
For those of you who have read my book, you will notice a tie to an event in the book. In all honesty, the book, Masquerade, was written in 2009, long before the event above took place. As I penned the fiction story, my intent was to write about a school violence event where one of he main characters’ children were killed. I found, however, that, as a parent, I couldn’t actually put this into the book, even though it was fiction. The book sat dormant on my hard drive for many years, until last summer when I began the process of publishing it. When I read the section about the shooting incident, I was taken aback by the eerie similarity to the actual incident.
If you haven’t read the book yet, you can get it here! If you have read it, thank you, thank you, thank you – please feel free to leave a review! My sincerest prayer is that, through this book, and through my life, people will be drawn into a relationship with a loving Father, who wants desperately to bring you peace.
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