Fast Trains and Mass Shooters

boy standing in between big trains
Photo by Victoria Borodinova on

As I shopped for my daughter’s birthday dinner last Friday, I thought about my next blog post. That’s the way I write. I mull a subject over in my mind, sometimes for hours, before I ever put a word down on paper.

And I thought back to when my daughter was five and heading for kindergarten. We lived in a small town (population 300) and all moms (dads seem immune to this kind of thing) were stressed out. To get into kindergarten, kids had to pass a test, but this wasn’t just any test. They didn’t have to identify letters or repeat their phone number – no, they had to answer a series of 20 questions. Questions like: What’s faster? A train or a motorcycle? Or, what color is night? Problem was –  the answers were confusing. “They” wanted the kids to say that trains were faster, but trains went slowly through our town because of several area crossings, so the kids figured motorcycles were faster. And to a child in the country, who often took evening walks with her parents, the sky was multiple colors not just the desired answer of black.

So the moms did what they could to figure out what the questions were. (How many wheels are on a wheelbarrow?) and prepare their kids to answer according to what was required. Preparing the kids for the test was a Full. Time. Job. for several weeks. Moms obsessed over it.

I don’t remember my daughter’s score, but she got into kindergarten, as did her friends, so we moms must’ve prepared our kids well.

As I mulled this over, I thought about how much time we take preparing our kids for things like kindergarten tests, and how (often) little time we spend preparing them for life events. What about when dad loses his job, or they’re teased for attending church, or their favorite uncle becomes seriously ill? Do we prepare them for those moments?

And that was the post I put together in my mind Friday morning.

I went home and began cleaning the kitchen and preparing dinner. Still thinking about what I wanted to say, I worked in quietness with no background noise. But a little after three, I realized Jeopardy was coming on. Alex and friends could entertain me as I put the casserole together. So I got my laptop and brought it down to the kitchen to livestream Channel 7.

But instead of Jeopardy, I saw an emergency banner on the screen –  “Breaking News – Mass Shooting ….  Schools on lockdown.”

I paused and stared at the screen. “Oh no,” I thought. “Not another one! Where did this one happen?” I listened as the reporter continued.

Then I realized …

This one is happening RIGHT HERE!

I KNEW that street. My grandkids were in one of those locked-down schools and although we don’t live in the immediate area, the kids I teach at church do. What about those kids and their families? For the next several hours, as I finished preparing dinner and cleaning, I listened to the continually updated reports. Outside, I heard sirens blare in the distance and the clackety clack of helicopters flying overhead.

None of us are prepared for situations like this. Not really. Sure, logistically businesses, police departments, and schools put well-thought-out predetermined plans into place, but no one truly wants to utilize those plans. And even with the plans (and everyone is saying that our city’s police department was professional, quick-thinking, and caring) –  still five police officers were injured and five innocent victims are dead (including a young 22-year-old who was on his first day of a new job). When something like this happens in other parts of the country, we think – “Well, it won’t happen here.”

But sometimes it does “happen here.”

Are our kids prepared? Do they know that the Lord is with them? Do they know they can talk to the Lord at any time? Do they feel His comfort even in the middle of terrifying scenarios? Do they find peace even in the chaos?

Then I went back to my original train of thought –  the hours we prepared our kids for the kindergarten test.

Knowing that a wheelbarrow has one wheel is good, but do we spend just as much time teaching them God’s Word? Do we fortify them with comforting verses to repeat in time of crisis? Do we teach them that we live in a messed-up world, but God is sovereign?

Joshua 1:9 – Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

Psalm 56:3-4 –When I am afraid,  I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me?

Proverbs 3:5 – Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.

Romans 8:38-39 – For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Hebrews 13:5b – “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Sometimes motorcycles go fast and sometimes slow. Sometimes the night is black, sometimes it’s gray, and sometimes it’s purple.

But the Lord is always here for us … even in the middle of a confused, chaotic, sinful world – He loves us. He never changes.

He keeps His promises.

We must Prepare. Our. Kids.

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