Monday, October 01, 2012

shootings and stillness

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Monday morning feels so good after this weekend. It was a very slow weekend for sure, but it was also a very heavy one for me. 

Saturday night we were sitting in the living room, when a series of loud noises interrupted our weekend movie:

Boom, boom, boom, boom, boom.

Gunshots.

We peered out the side door to see what happened... there were no screams... nothing...just eerie silence through our normally busy {especially at midnight} neighborhood. 

Thirty minutes later the squealing ambulance takes away the shooter's victim, and the street running beside our house is lined with police.

Just three houses down, our neighbor's yard is surrounded by police tape.

The next morning we find out the shooter is unknown and on the loose, and the victim {a young guy} is in intensive care but stable.

More details emerge that make me feel a little better: the shooter came through the front door, and the police don't think it was random. Most likely, everyone says, it was a drug deal gone bad.

Comforting, no?

It was the first time I've ever heard someone being shot {or city gunfire at all}. But it wasn't the first violent crime that happened around us in the past 2.5 years. 

One night we came home to the police tape and cars next door. One of our next door neighbors had been shot in the chest by a "friend." 

And then there was that Saturday morning the police came to our house to find out if we saw/heard the man escaping after he'd severely beaten and robbed a woman in the house that overlooks our back yard. No, we didn't see him, though I walked to my car to leave for the gym at that very time of day.

We know we were called to be here for a reason. We felt like if we couldn't be missionaries on the less- than-good {not even the worst} side of our safe little town, we certainly couldn't go anywhere else and do it.

But I won't lie, this weekend I felt like this whole thing was kind of getting old. 

Strangely, I am not afraid of us getting attacked.  I'm really not fearful for our safety. God is in control of what happens to us, and I don't doubt He knows what He is doing.

I was just struggling this weekend with the why part. We have had neighborhood Bible studies, walked the streets handing out cookies, we have helped neighbors, spent time with them, we have met so many people here. We've worked on our house, we've hosted parties, and family get-togethers. Good things.

But, I kept thinking, this is America, Lord, and there are lots of safer places than this. I need you to strengthen my purpose or show me the way, because I honestly want to pack it up and go somewhere else. This just doesn't make sense. 

Honestly, I felt angry that God would want us here.

Maybe you have been through something like this too? 

Like I said, it wasn't fear, it was more of frustration. God, why do you want us here? What's the point of being in what feels like an unsafe place?

I went to my car before the end of church and just cried and prayed. And vented. I didn't get an answer of why or what is next, but He reminded me of this:

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And then as steady as the quiet rain falling on the windshield, He whispered to my soul:

"Be still and know that I am God."

Oh, how much I had longed for His voice. "Yes, Lord," my heart answered.

My body became as still as my soul.

Be still.

Wait on me.

I didn't get an answer, but the frustration left me. 

I don't know His plans. I don't know when it's time to move, or time to start a new Bible study, or if we should go out more in the neighborhood and try to reach people or if that's dangerous... I have no idea. 

My husband reminded me our pastor said yesterday, when you ask the question "what should I do?" the answer is always to seek the Holy Spirit.

I laughed when I heard it.

Of course. I know this. :D

So that's what I'm doing. And I'm feeling rather like I'm a blind person.

Seeking the Holy Spirit to lead me. Waiting. Trusting. Sitting still.

I don't understand, but I don't have to right now. And I may never. It may just be another time that God teaches me to stop thinking I know what's going on. 

My husband isn't worried about the incident at all, so that's comforting right now {it wasn't so much to me this weekend... ;)}. And we've never had anything scary happen to us here, either. It's going to be okay.

No matter what happens, would you pray for us? That God would continue to protect us, and to open our eyes more to the needs of the people here- most of whom are probably afraid that they will be the next victim. Please pray that we see clearly what God has in store for us, and that we will follow Him even when we don't.

And will you pray for the victim and the shooter too, while you're at it? 

{p.s. I am so, so thankful for you guys. Every single one of you. I read every one of your comments, and I can't tell you how many times the Spirit has encouraged me through you. I love y'all and am so thankful for you all!! and thank you so much for praying!!}

23 comments:

Alana of Domestic Bliss Diaries said...

Definitely will be praying. I've often felt burdened by avoiding the "dangerous" areas. But, truthfully, we're not guaranteed safety anywhere. Last year someone was shot just down the road from us and this year someone was shot a couple miles from us. Too close for comfort when I struggle with trusting God for my safety. I want to trust... I just give into letting my mind wander.

Finesse said...

I will pray for you, the victim and the shooter
God has a plan us all,we just have to be patient.
Blessings
Sharon xx

Nancy Lundy said...

Praying.

Stillroomtogrow said...

your story sent chills down my back. I hate you are going through this, but I know you will see God's glory in it one day. Prayers for safety!

Meagan Lissner said...

I love your heart Mandy.Praying for you and your families ministry on your street. Right where he has you.

Anne said...

Praying for all of the details our Heavenly Father knows! Ps 61:2 "when my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the Rock that is higher than I."

Burlygirl40 said...

I had someone try to get into my apartment about 6 years ago. My friend's dad is a cop (was, he passed a year ago from a brain tumor) and he made me learn how to shoot and carry a gun. I never needed it, but it has allowed me to have ministry with others. Gives us something to talk about. You never know how God will turn something scary into something to bless Him.

Jessica Newland said...

Thank you for your honesty. Praying right now for wisdom, safety, and peace today!

Tracys Humphrey said...

had to stop a weep before I could finish reading this. What a Blessing you are to my soul. We are in the process of getting married moving to a house in the city and I was just blessed with a small teaching position at the community college God has been so good to us. But the road we are moving from has had such crime in the past month we have had a 66 year old man beaten to death by a 24 year old man. We have had houses broken in to on our road and last week someone tried to steal our puppy. I pray for your neighborhood and pray for this one as well I worry for this world

JL Bolton said...

Something I remind myself is that technically, no place is safe. We are safest when we are doing what we are supposed to, being content...but God lovingly cares for us no matter where we live, or where we are. We can't get 'protection' by moving somewhere new. Life may be messy sometimes, but in the middle of the mess we can be a light. (We were broken into...and we live in the country!) Thinking of you.

Kayla said...

Scary stuff, but I love what you wrote:


"Be still and know that I am God."Oh, how much I had longed for His voice.

thechattymommy said...

Just wanted to share we have had stuff like this happen in our neighborhoods while I was growing up and as an adult. I just don't think it has affected me much. But, as an adult with kids it is natural that we want to make sure we make the best decisions for our children. That being said, I agree with JL- no place is safe.
We have amazing areas that everyone wants to live in and they still have been invaded with some type of violence.
Thanks for sharing with us- I will be praying for you guys and for the household this took place in.

Brad Durham said...

Thank you for posting! I am not currently living in a dangerous neighborhood, although I did grow up in Southwest Philly, but I related to your post on the level of needing to be still and hear His voice and trust that He knows what He's doing in mine and my family's life right now. We are in a very tough situation reguarding our current church and I'm having a very difficult time trusting that God has something good that is going to come out of all of this and us being here now, but when I stop and listen to Him, that's what I hear Him say.....trying to hold fast to Him for strength to see us through. He began this good work in us, and I must trust Him to see us through to the end!! Thanks again for sharing! ~~~Jennifer Durham

Ulrika said...

Praying for you (and the people involved too). <3 :)

Mary_Krause said...

i hear ya, girl.
when we lived in Gary, IN, we had a convicted murderer across the street, woke up to pounding on our back door randomly, heard gun shots, helicopters flying the neighborhood, drug busts, .police spotlighting at midnight searching...but God kept us there for a reason and when He saw fit, He moved us out, and we were always safe.
I will pray for peace and safety for you.


you are NEVER safer than right where He has you. that's for sure! :)
xoxo

Lara said...

Sweet Mandy. I will pray for you and your family. We live in a very small town, but I have also lived in a big foreign city where safety felt elusive. I will pray that fear is kept far from you, in Jesus' Name. He does go before us and behind us. His presence will never leave us, and we will only know Him MORE through death, the worst the world could ever offer. That's a cool thought I have to return to a lot. Love you!

Cindy B. said...

Praying sweet friend for you and the ones all around may your lights shine ever so bright and drown out the darkness within your community and may God ALWAYS place His sweet and mighty hand of protection upon you and your precious family God BLess
Cindy

{darlene} said...

yes. I will certainly pray. For your safety. And also for you to be able to live boldly. thank you for this post, sweet friend.

Abigail P. said...

Prayers on your behalf going up to Him now!

dee said...

May GOD place a hedge of protection around you and yours. May you be that city on a hill whose light is seen for miles around.

Jenny C. said...

Dear Mandy, your faith encourages me so much. In my Bible next to Psalm 46:10 I have written "be free of worry, be free of fret". May the Lord continue to hold you and your sweet family securely in the plam of His hand. God bless, Jenny C.

Rebecca said...

Prayer said for you, your family, the shooter, the victim, your neighbors, and your neighborhood. May God send guardian angels to keep watch over you and warring angels to fight off every attack of the enemy that would even think to come against you...and may He give you His peace!

Joyce said...

My husband actually just sent me a picture message on a newspaper article this morning about a standoff in a development up the street from my house with police that lasted 10 hours. And it's like one of those super awesome fancy developments with their own golf course and everything.


Isn't it crazy just how much reach the devil has? It can't just be in lands faraway in both distance and minds from us but also in our backyards. It can't just be deeper in our current fears but in places and things in which we feel confident and safe. I read this the other day in Francis Chan's Crazy Love:


Psalm 115:3 reveals, "Our God is in heaven; He does whatever pleases Him." Yet we keep on questioning Him: "Why did You make me with this body, instead of that one? "Why are so many people dying of starvation?" "Why are there so many planets with nothing living on them?" "Why is my family so messed up? "Why don't You make Yourself more obvious to the people who need You?"


The answer to each of these questions is simply this: because He's God. He has more of a right to ask us why so many people are starving. As much as we want God to explain Himself to us, His creation, we are in no place to demand that He give an account to us.


-----


What struck me most was "He has more of a right to ask us why so many people are starving." I was talking with my husband the other day, saying something along the lines of "I think we take some biblical commands too figuratively. Jesus told us to feed the poor and visit those in prison. Yes, feeding the poor can be sharing a meal with a friend who has more month than money, and yes, encouraging a friend in a prison of addiction may be wonderful, but why aren't we literally doing things Jesus told us to do?"


For months now I've been feeling God leading my husband I to be a part of a radical change in our town. If there is violence in my town, it's because myself and other citizens aren't doing anything to change it. Individually we are all just one person, but we can still make change. I believe one of the biggest lies the devil tells us is anything positive we do is insignificant.


How many times we do rethink an immediate compulsion to stop and help someone on the side of the road? "Oh they know what they're doing. Oh but wait it's just little old me so it's far too dangerous. I have to make this appointment on time and they look like they're fine." Absolutely God wants us to be aware of our safety, but I think we know deep down when we lie through our own convictions.


Wow okay this comment went a lot longer and on a bit of a tangent than I intended :P God bless you for your blogging ministry (that's how I see it). This was quite a pleasant first visit :)

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