In Lubbock, the big small town in the panhandle of Texas, gentlemen still say “yes ma’am” and women still wear pearls to church. In Lubbock, neighbors stop and chat on the sidewalk. We say “please” and “thank you” and “God bless.” And we mean it. There’s a church on every corner and a family at the table next to you in the restaurant bowing their heads to say grace before the meal. In Lubbock, we love Texas Tech and the Masked Rider and all things red and black. In Lubbock, we thank God for the rain and the drought. In Lubbock, we are kind and generous and sincere.
So it makes no sense that in Lubbock we would also have the foundation-shaking experience of an active shooter on our beloved university campus. Over 37,000 students sent into immediate shock and fear. And the fear rippled out into the population of Lubbock; 250,000 people halted as the lock down ensued. But the fear rippled further out into cities and states and countries beyond our hometown where terrified parents and friends waited for news. Fear.
Fear is a God-given emotion. This response to danger is a defense mechanism that keeps us alert and safe. According to author Gavin de Becker, fear is “the gift of a brilliant internal guardian that stands ready to warn you of hazards and guide you through risky situations.” We who believe know exactly who that guardian is. Fear in the presence of an active shooter situation is a natural and healthy response.
But what happens when fear becomes a stronghold? What happens when, long after an incident is over, fear paralyzes students and parents and faculty, becoming a hindrance, not a help.
Here’s what I’m learning about the power of fear….
What God creates to protect us, Satan twists to torment us.
Consider this.... fear begets fear. And so at present, Satan is using national tragedies to plant seeds of fear. It's in the media. It's in our lunch conversations. It's saturating our social media feeds. It's in our relationships. It's in our hearts. And Satan rejoices as we fear. So what is our response?
First and foremost, we recognize the enemy's game and we offer a counterattack. We do not allow fear to take residence within us. We do not allow it to become an obsession, a state of being. This fear is not from God. God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
God has given us a spirit of power to overcome these fears by his blood and by his name. When the fear begins to creep in, we proclaim, out loud, that we recognize the attempts of the devil, that he has no dominion over our mind, and that in the name of Jesus Christ, the enemy must flee and take his whispers of fear and oppression with him. Christ rules our hearts and mind. We proclaim this over and over for as long as it takes. Until we no longer live by fear but by the light.
God has given us a spirit of love. Countless people, especially as we encounter tragedy after tragedy, wonder where is God? For so many, the world is a dark and lonely and loveless place, and these calamities only further the pain and doubts. Therefore in the wake of these tragedies, we as believers are called to exercise the love of Christ as Christ lives in us and through us. We have the answers people are longing for. We must let the glory of God’s love shine through us to bring light and love to hurting people.
God has given us the gift of a sound mind. Through the power of Christ we have the ability to recognize when the imminent danger is gone and when fear is no longer a necessary emotion. It is then that we call upon the Lord to replace our fear with hope. As parents, we can speak light into our children’s fears. As students, we speak truth to fellow classmates, proclaiming the freedom from fear that comes when we put our trust in the Lord. As people of God, we recognize the games that Satan plays, to which we respond, "Get behind thee Satan, in Jesus' name."
While we do not know what is in store for us on this earth, we do know that we can speak light and life into the darkness. We can refuse to let the enemy stake claim. We call upon to Lord to drive out the spirit of fear in our schools, our homes, and in our hearts. And He answers. Praise be to God.