Safety in the Crossfire!
"But I’m afraid to go to school, Mom. They have guns!" My then fourteen year old son tried desperately to convince me why he shouldn’t have to attend school that day, or, if possible, ever again.
I understood my son’s fears. The day before, a young man in his eighth-grade class had been arrested for threatening a teacher with a handgun. In the after-math, many parents had kept their children home from school or had transferred them to one of the private schools in town. The fear was that "my child may catch a stray bullet." I felt that same fear myself, and in my feelings wished desperately that I could afford a private school for my child or that I could just keep him home where it "felt" safe. But neither of those options was available to me, so I had to come back, as always in every circumstance, to faith.
In the Bible we are told, "In all these circumstances give thanks, for it is the perfect will of your Father concerning you"(1 Thessalonians 5:18). It seemed quite a stretch to call children attending a middle school where guns were carried by the other students "God’s perfect circumstance," but it had to be so, since it said so in scripture. And it brought me back to the reality of my own circumstances.
I was raised in a family where incest was present; I was one of the survivors. When I first realized by reading some books by Norman Grubb that God was all-powerful, the All in All, and that nothing occurred apart from Him, I first faced the fact that God could have prevented what had happened to me if He had desired to. He had chosen my family system, and He could have changed it had He wanted to. He could have created me a boy, and that would have changed my position. He could have had me born later, after my grandfather died, or He simply could have taken my grandfather at any time and prevented the abuse. But He did not.
As I faced that fact, I was so angry. Here was the Father who could have protected me, but He did not. The explanation offered by counselors and ministers was that it was just one of those things that God wished people wouldn’t do, and since they have freedom of choice, He can’t prevent them from abusing each other. I really had believed that God was powerless to prevent the abuse. It was the only way I could understand why it would have happened. I did not apply any faith at all; I simply looked for a humanly understandable resolution of the problem.
This explanation worked, but no wonder I didn’t trust Him with any of my life! If He was that small, then we were all really in trouble, since that meant there was a power out there operating outside of God’s control. How could anyone ever know safety or the casting out of all fears?
Now I was face-to-face with a new set of facts straight from the scriptures. I was challenged to say with Joseph, "You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good." Not passively allowed, but meant it. There was nothing passive about that statement.
At first I fought letting go of my anger. I wanted to stay mad about what had happened to me. I wanted to hang on to the right to hate and blame and use the incident to justify spoiling myself. I used the fact of my history to feel "special" and demand special considerations from others. I wanted to believe I had been through something tougher than most and to be cut a lot of slack in daily life to make up for it. I also really believed that it had been all about me–that something had been intrinsically wrong with me that had caused the problem, and I hated who I was and what I was. I hated being me, and I really believed I was worthless.
So I struggled and I fought and I disagreed and ended up more miser-able than ever. Finally, in desperation, I prayed, "Okay, God, I thank You for what happened." I didn’t feel thankful. I just saw that I had no other choice. I could either accept God’s omniscience and trust Him with my life exactly as it was, or I could go back to trying to fix me myself. I knew now that I couldn’t, so I just gave it up, none too graciously, but 100% sincerely.
Gradually, I realized that as I let go of the need to justify my situation, I had a lot of extra room in my life for gratitude. I began to see all of the blessings in my life, and I came to believe with all my heart I would someday understand why what had happened really was a blessing.
Two years after letting go of the anger, I met a young woman in a fitness center, and we struck up a conversation. It quickly turned very serious, and as I listened to her, 1 heard the rage, the hurt, the self-hatred I had lived in for so long. Without even realizing it, I suddenly heard my voice asking her if she had been a victim of incest. 1 was shocked I had asked her such a thing, and almost winced as I waited for an enraged response. It didn’t come. Instead, after a shocked silence, she asked, "How did you know?"
"Because you sound just like me," I told her. I then began to share my story, as she listened and questioned me. I told her about the realization that God was all-powerful, and I had to come to a point of acceptance and of thanking Him for all things, since such was the will of my Father concerning me. She told me she was a horn-again believer, so she could not deny the evidence of the scriptures. But the greatest gift, she said, had been just to admit it to another person and be accepted and he able to talk about it. When we parted, she promised she would seek counseling and begin to accept her position.
As I drove home, I felt such a joy inside of me, and I suddenly realized I was thinking, "Thank you, God, that I had had that experience, so I could help that person." And the promise came hack to me, that one day I would be truly grateful for my past and know it for the blessing it was in God’s plan. I had a way to help others, which is what it is all about.
I realize now that it was never an independent-I that went through my childhood. There was never a single moment in my life, or in any of the lives that affected mine, where an independent human being was operating outside God’s plan. My grandfather, my parents, everyone I had ever come into contact with, were simply vessels being operated by Christ or Satan. And the ones being operated by Satan were still under God’s authority. Norman Grubb teaches that Satan is "God’s convenient agent." Scriptures hack that, since Job never gets into a conversation with Satan about why he is doing any of this to him. He always brings it hack to God, understanding that God makes the plans and the vessels simply carry them out–with or without agreement. God’s perfect plan moves ahead. There is no other power in the universe to thwart it. He is the All in All.
Because of my own experience, I am now able to speak to my son, and explain to him that what I am learning more deeply all the time: that there is no such thing as a stray bullet or an accidental death. All things under the sun are ordained by God and perfectly ordered in His perfect timing for His perfect plan. There is no waste in God’s kingdom, and there are no accidents. My son is perfectly safe to attend school because God is attending school in his body, and Christ is willing to go wherever He is sent and to do all things that He is asked in Perry’s body. And even the events that seem too terrible to understand are under God’s perfect command, even as the Cross appeared to he the most horrific defeat the disciples could have experienced. It was in God’s reality the greatest fulfillment of His promise to us that we are safe forever.
More Articles from The Intercessor, Vol 13 No 1
- Editor’s Note
- Moments with Meryl
- God’s Stormtroopers
- A Look at a Book
- A Christmas Letter
- Safety in the Crossfire!
- Food for Body, Soul & Spirit at the NY Conference
- To Think About…
- Questions & Answers
- The Mailbox
- The Contract
- The Self Can’t Be Improved
- Tape Talk
- Excerpt from The Intercession of Rees Howells
- The Way of Release
- God’s Standards Have Not Changed: British Fall Conference
- Words to Live By
- One Lesson