Much too frequently these days we hear news reports about lone shooters firing guns in a public environment, usually a place where people have usually felt safe like a movie theatre, school, shopping center, restaurant, or even an airport where security abounds. This past weekend was another occurrence of a tragic shooting of innocent victims at an airport. In listening to the news reports about this event I reflected on some deeper insights.
The shooting started suddenly without warning or indication of reasoning or plan of attack. How often do we encounter a potentially harmful situation or encounter suddenly interrupting events in our lives pushing our plans aside or askew for our day? There are natural disasters, weather events, traffic accidents, road rage, shopping frenzies, rude strangers crossing our paths or service providers or organizations failing to meet their commitments necessary for our plans and continuing life activities. How do we react? What emotions do we feel? It is said what we are full of is what comes up in a crisis. What is our response? How can we minimize the impact or injury or maximize our options and results? Do we take time to reflect on these questions and discern the answers? Sometimes there is no time available to reflect because we need to take immediate action to defend or preserve what is invaluable, as in the airport shooting this past weekend.
It turned out no one interviewed of all the airport staff, security personnel, shooter’s family or friends, witnesses or victims expected or understood what was happening, why it was happening or what was going to happen next. Only someone outside of the event timing (afterwards) would be able to gather information by reviewing evidence, video and investigation, except for the all knowing presence of God.
There are a multitude of stories of people who survived the attack on the Twin Towers on 9/11 who felt spiritually ‘directed’ to safety, even going in directions opposite the crowds or even against instructions from emergency personnel. Being ‘tuned in’ spiritually to God would definitely be an advantage. Like being tuned in to our favorite station or source of information, we need to be tuned in all the time to receive emergency alerts and notifications with instructions. We also need to have a habit of listening, being aware and responding. We can find and keep the information ‘channel’ of God open through a growing relationship with God in one’s life, just like having close connections to any other person, only with God, we do not need a WiFi, phone or video connection to receive communication or directions.
The Israelites in their journey through the desert to the promised land in Canaan followed God who was physically present to lead them in a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. We do not have a cloud or pillar of fire visible but today we have God’s presence available to us within us by the Holy Spirit that comes to us in Christ, as he promised while here in physical form. We nurture this relationship through daily constant open channels of communication. My life has totally changed by daily receiving insight and direction in a growing intimate relationship with God developed through daily practicing various methods and activities that open and strengthen the ‘signal’ of these divine channels of communication. Sharing these with others has been a passion I wish to continue through this blog.
The potential victims in the airport shooting responded in many different ways: hiding, running in different directions, ducking and dropping to the floor, some responding by protecting others. In video footage you can observe some people actually placing themselves in the line of fire by just moving without required wisdom. There was really no way to know what was the best action to take. Only God knew.
Certainly various emotions besides terror were running high in and following the dangerous experience, including shock, relief, grief and various levels of anger and rage. Several people abandoned all their belongings including valuable communication devices, personal identification and monies they would later need to move on from the experience. What would you hold onto? Obviously self preservation and certainly protection of loved ones, especially children, took priority over possessions or ID. Past experiences show that people who survive catastrophic events are more likely to do so and to help others survive when being more calm without focusing on fear and terror.
What makes us calm in life threatening circumstances, whether with an armed shooter or with a deadly disease or financial catastrophe? Growing up with frequent life threatening traumas, I developed fear and anxiety as an ongoing underlying emotion. But over the years of developing a closer relationship with God, my anxiety has changed to peaceful trust through many amazing experiences proving God’s presence and provision. With each year, I have found I have more underlying joy and peace, the more I experience God working in my life and I learn to trust in God’s love, goodness, provision and guidance.
Jesus’ frequent expression was “peace be with you”. The great prophet Isaiah wrote: Isaiah 26:3 “You (God) will keep in perfect and constant peace the (any) One whose mind is steadfast, that is, committed and focused on You, because that One trusts and takes refuge in You with hope and confident expectation.” That hope and confidence will not disappoint! Romans 5:5: “Such hope in God’s promises never disappoints us, because God’s love has been abundantly poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us (in Christ).”
Reflecting on this event, I received one other insight after asking myself (and God), “why would anyone abandon their money, phones & ID?” Those that did found themselves stranded, unable to contact help, get transportation, or even prove their identity to leave the airport or secured safety areas provided by civil authorities, which areas became hunger inducing prisons. I immediately thought of what our identity is based on: our beliefs about ourself and the world. By running in terror and anxiety without knowing who I truly am, not just a physical body, but a spiritual being existing in God, I lose my identity and the resources for finding the assistance and direction I need to move to safety and for the best future activities that will produce a fulfilling life.
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