Two schools, an elementary and a high school, in northern Arizona were placed on lock-down last week. A man phoned in threats that he was coming to shoot kids. My daughter, a teacher at the elementary school, told me the teachers and students had practiced the lock-down drill and were prepared for this crisis. When they finally heard the voices of the policemen ringing through the hallways and were told all was safe, classroom lights were turned back on and doors unlocked. Precious children finished their school day and teachers thanked the police for their quick response and protection. The caller never showed up.
If you watch the news on TV or read the reports via the internet, it seems we are in danger wherever we live or work. Many of us pray daily for God to protect our families, friends and neighbors all around the world. Not that God is a good luck charm or rabbit’s foot, but scripture tells us to “cast all our care on him; for he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7.
A few years ago I started a part-time job at a Christian bookstore located in the Phoenix area. We had a steady stream of customers all afternoon and now we were getting ready to close on a beautiful fall evening. There were five of us working.
I had just finished my break, walked out of the backroom, glanced up at the front counter when I saw a dark-skinned stranger wearing sunglasses and a black knit cap ushering my boss out of the front supply room.
Shocked, I ducked behind a narrow card kiosk and peeked over the top to see the head of another strange man, also wearing sunglasses and a black cap, with Steven who was at the cash registers. Two female customers stood frozen by the counter. I immediately began to pray. I heard our cash register drawer’s open, gruff voices, footsteps and then silence. I never saw their gun. They made their escape with hundreds of dollars.
What a relief when the police came. They told us these guys had committed a string of robberies and all across our city, so law enforcement were looking for them.
In my sixty-plus years of life, all I’d seen of bad guys was on TV or in the movies. Shaking like a wimpy grandma, my imagination soared out of control in the next weeks. I couldn’t stop wondering if that man behind me at the drug store was going to rob me. At work I scanned every customer wondering if they were a law abiding person. Fear and paranoia took over my life in spite of my trust in God and my prayers.
I finally shared my experience with a young police officer, Matt, who attended my church. His compassion and understanding reached deep into my soul and my “stress disorder” vanished. Wrapped in his hug and teary-eyed, I was able to let go of the traumatic experience and trust God for peace.
For me, this young officer, was called by God to be a burden-bearer and protector. In the Bible in Galatians 6:2 it says, “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.”
In a few days Matt joyfully told me, “They caught the bad guys!” The robbers joined the list of stupid crooks by trying to rob a busy pizza place in broad daylight. The employees fought back and in a scene made for a Disney movie, the bad guys lost in spite of firing their gun at someone.
Burden-bearers are all around us when we need them. With grateful heart, I think about those policemen who ran to the schools ready to give their lives to protect the children, teachers and staff.
One and one-half miles down the street from our home is a fire station. On call 24/7, I hear their sirens as they race to emergency calls and they save many lives.
A grocery store in our area has a police sub-station and features photos of our K-9 officers and on occasion I’ve met the magnificent four-legged protectors during fund raising events to buy them protective vests.
Search and rescue teams are also patrolling our hiking trails and mountains, especially the Grand Canyon with its rugged terrain and hundreds of tourists who often slip and fall.
These are just a few of those who serve and give their lives in the line of duty. I want to thank all our protectors, burden-bearers, unsung heroes who have a calling in life to serve us in times of crisis.
Prayer: Lord, thank you for our emergency calling system of 9-1-1. I ask you to protect our burden-bearers and those called to protect and rescue us in any crisis. God of the armies of heaven, our trust and hope is in you when disasters and danger come against us. Thank you for all the times you protected us and we didn’t even know you did. Amen.