This post is not at all what I had intended to present on the eve of Palm Sunday. But as I sat down to write, the shock and grief that has settled over our community in the past 24 hours has moved my heart in a different direction. It was fresh news as I began to write this, but by the time it goes out, every detail of the unmitigated evil that descended on a small Christian school a few miles north of us in Nashville, will be public knowledge.
Life was violently ripped away from six innocent people, three of whom were 9-year-old children. The perpetrator of this hellish atrocity was justifiably killed as well, but not before she had taken six lives and tattooed a panorama of horror on the memories of a multitude of others. Answers seem frustratingly scarce right now, and an endless stream of questions seems to permeate the very air around us. As the awful news sinks in, everyone seems to be struggling with how to react and what to do. For followers of Jesus, one answer to those questions emerges unchallenged . . . We pray.
Responding to the Terrorism ~
Within hours of the news of the shootings, our church sent out a digital call for prayer. Those who were able to come were invited to gather at our church to join our hearts and voices together to pray for God’s direct intervention and to heed Paul’s admonition to weep with those who weep (Romans 12:15). Even as we approached God in our prayers, many of us struggled with what to say in response to something like this. How do we express the inexpressible? A woman who was praying with Diane and me articulated what so many were feeling when she said simply, “I ache inside for them.” We held onto the words of the Apostle Paul who assured us that the Spirit of God would intervene and transmit to the Father what our overwhelmed hearts were feeling. He said:
Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God. (Romans 8:26–27 NKJV)
What happened in Covenant School wasn’t the first time a demonic horror show like this has unfolded in our country, but as we gathered to pray in the aftermath of it, the feeling was different. Being so much closer to home didn’t make the awful event worse, but it seemed to magnify the impact. No parent in the room with us could avoid thinking about his or her own children and what the parents of those innocent little victims were going through. Our Pastor shared that as he was leaving home to come to church, his 12-year-old daughter said, “Daddy, can this happen in my school?” Every one of us would have wanted to shout, “NO!” but in this culture that systematically seeks to destroy every protective moral boundary God ever established, none of us could say that.
One More Example ~
This latest episode of senseless slaughter is just one more example of what happens when the values that once protected us from such unrestrained expositions of evil have been undermined and all but eliminated. The godless cabal controlling our political, academic, and communication networks is powerful and deeply entrenched. Their first major victory was achieved when they managed to get prayer banned from our public schools over 60 years ago. Since that monstrous piece of moral and spiritual foolishness was passed, the annual harvest of blood and toxic filth has steadily grown. Now we’re seeing it multiply exponentially. Open acknowledgment of Judeo-Christian beliefs can not only get you kicked out of school, it can easily cost you your job. The spiritual vacuum in the current ruling class is on full display in the aftermath of a horrific event like this. Their response is to join together like programmed robots to demean those of us who pray and to chant their familiar “ban the guns” and blame the “trans-haters” (i.e., Christians, by their thinking) chorus.
When we consider the spiritual battles currently raging and the odds stacked against us, feeling discouraged is not unreasonable. But the living God we serve did not leave us without direction. He used David to give us an illustration of what to do when the power of the enemy seems overwhelming. David approached the throne of God like this:
Hear my cry, O God;
Attend to my prayer.
From the end of the earth I will cry to You,
When my heart is overwhelmed;
Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
For You have been a shelter for me,
A strong tower from the enemy.
I will abide in Your tabernacle forever;
I will trust in the shelter of Your wings. (Psalm 61:1–4)
Looking for Direction ~
Like David, we’re faced with opposition beyond our control right now, and there seems to be a growing sense of desperation. The attacks on truth, righteousness, justice, and personal freedom are coming from nearly every direction, and we struggle with how to respond. This bold prayer that God inspired David to write involves several elements that would be fitting for us to embrace and apply:
- David prayed boldly. Attend to my prayer, David said. He wanted more than God’s general awareness. He called for God’s focused, personal attention.
- David prayed honestly. There was no pretentious assumption that he could handle the situation with a little help. He confessed that his heart, his courage, and his abilities were failing him. He was ready to surrender, but only to the God who could deliver him, not the enemy threatening him.
- He prayed expectantly. David was a man of action. He wasn’t just throwing a passive, ritualistic string of platitudes out into the heavens. He “expected” his contact with God to be an interactive dialog.
- He prayed confidently. He didn’t ask God whether or not a secure fortress existed. He simply said, “Lead me to it.”
- He prayed submissively. David’s plea for guidance implied a willingness to obediently follow God’s leadership.
David was a warrior, and he knew that the victory he sought depended on him being solidly planted on higher ground. He was not just asking for God to lead him. He knew that the only way “out” was to find the way “up”. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I, he prayed. Victory could not be achieved if he stayed where he was and continued to do the same things he had been doing. David needed to see the enemy from an elevated perspective. He needed to think from an elevated point of view. He needed to launch his weapons from a more effective vantage point. If God didn’t lead him to a more secure and effective place, defeat was inevitable.
The Challenges Intensify ~
Since the night of the Nashville shooting, when I first began this post, we’ve watched Satanically-inspired public figures blame those horrific murders on those of us who believe God only made two sexes. We’ve seen Constitutional Amendments mocked and the Bill of Rights ridiculed. We’ve seen governmental agencies we once trusted become weapons wielded by the current political administration. This is one of those times when many of us would affirm that our hearts are overwhelmed.
David applied overcoming faith to his overwhelmed heart and so can we. God Himself is the Rock David desperately sought, and He is the only secure fortress any of us has. When it comes to the moral and spiritual swamp sucking our people deeper every day, finding the way up is the only way out, and the higher ground is in Him. When we call out to God boldly like David did, He will lift us higher and surround us with Himself, a living fortress that the devil can neither overcome nor overwhelm.
“TWEETABLES” ~ Click to tweet and share from the pull quotes below. Each one links directly back to this article through Twitter . . .
- “Like David, we’re faced with opposition beyond our control right now, and there seems to be a growing sense of desperation. The attacks on truth, righteousness, justice, and personal freedom are coming from nearly every direction, and we struggle with how to respond.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “David didn’t assume that he could handle the situation with a little help. He confessed that his heart, his courage, and his abilities were failing him. He was ready to surrender, but only to the God who could deliver him, not the enemy threatening him.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “David was a warrior. He knew the victory he sought depended on him being solidly planted on higher ground. He was not just asking for God to lead him. He knew that the only way “out” was to find the way “up”. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I, he prayed. @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “David applied overcoming faith to his overwhelmed heart. So can we. God Himself is the Rock he desperately sought. He’s the only secure fortress any of us has. Finding the way ‘up’ is the only way out of the moral & spiritual swamp. The ‘higher ground’ is in Him.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
Check out Ron’s book, “Right Side Up Thinking in an Upside Down World ~ Looking at the World through the Lens of Biblical Truth”
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© 2023 Gallagher’s Pen, Ronald L. Gallagher, Ed.S. All rights reserved.
It has been such a heart wrenching and horrible week for the nation, Ron. But losing hope is not an option. We need to seek the high ground that God offers each of us and stay strong in our beliefs and faith. Yes, there is evil in this world, and it does seem, at this moment, to be winning. But we know Satan will not overcome a world which Jesus has already overcome.
In spite of everything, may you and Diane have a blessed Palm Sunday!
You are so right, Martha. When I see media people extending more compassion for the perverted killer than the innocent victims, I just about lose it. I’ve never in my life imagined that we’d be witnessing such a blatant and violent display of demonic influence in our beloved country. It becomes clearer every day that God is the enemy of the ruling class and Christians are the targets of their rage. In Satan’s world system, that’s always been the case, but they haven’t been so open about it here in America. Apparently, they were just waiting slip their forces into positions of power and now they have it. They’ve taken over the primary judicial branches of government, the national news and entertainment media, and the academic system that feeds all of them. I don’t mean to sound so negative, dear friend, and I agree that this isn’t a time for despair. It’s a time to boldly approach God’s throne, confess our complicity in allowing this evil to take such deep roots, don our spiritual armor, and stand up to defend His Truth. Thank you for your faithfulness in displaying that kind of courage and inspiring others to do the same.
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Thank you R
God bless you for the encouraging acknowledgement, Linda. These are days of blatant anti-Christian attitudes that I never envisioned in my worst nightmares and we must make our voices heard. We can’t honestly say that we are followers of Jesus and if we remain silent and still when He and everything He taught is under attack. Thank you for your faithful stance in this spiritual warfare.
I have to be very careful in how I respond to your inspiring and hope-filled words my friend because what my carnal nature wants to respond with does not align with the Spiritual nature that I am seeking to control me more right now. My “sheepdog” tendencies want to react in a way that the Holy Spirit is holding in check. Know that I join you and all Christians in fervent prayer for God’s soothing balm of grace be applied to these hurting families. I pray also that God continue to extend His peace in the heat of this battle we find ourselves in. I’m overwhelmed this week at the realization that my lack of conviction, my lack of leadership, and my demand that the values and morality I stand for be defended. Instead, I said, “it doesn’t impact my life if they choose to live sinful, immoral, and distasteful lives that thumbs their noses at God.” Until it does…
I am right there with you, my friend. The more I hear people trying to make the killer the victim, the more outraged I become. A bunch of indoctrinated products of our institutions of “higher education” invaded and took over one of our State houses yesterday yelling, screaming, and waving their signs like the insane banshees that they have become and I’m confident that none of them will be prosecuted for any of the violence or vandalism they were guilty of. Like you, I am deeply convicted of being part of the generation so consumed with keeping up with the church routines and programs that I didn’t see the moral and spiritual monsters being created under my nose. I confess my sin in that regard daily and pray that God will cleanse and revive His Church. We are the targets because we are the only ones God sent into this sin cursed world to confront the evil. Whether we’ll see the ultimate obliteration of every righteous principle God ever ordained or not depends on whether God will answer our prayers for forgiveness, cleansing, and widespread revival. Thank you for all you do to remind as many as you can that it’s time to heed Paul’s admonition to “awake out of sleep.” As our pastor said last week, “We’re entertaining ourselves to death.” We claim to “believe” in Jesus, but we’re not “following” Him. We can sit on our complacent butts and “believe,” but following Him requires us to get up and get moving. Maybe it will take more overt persecution to shake us out of our apathy, but I keep hoping the Spirit of God will grant us another way. We’re praying that the price those brothers and sisters at Covenant School won’t be in vain. If we don’t make our voices heard now, I don’t know what it will take. Thank you for the dose of encouragement this morning, and God bless you for being the kind of friend that all of us who know you feel stronger.