In the Midst of the Mess

They say you should never grocery shop when you’re hungry, or make rash decisions after a personal tragedy or lack of sleep.  I hear this and try to abide, but I find myself writing a blog from a place of anger, rage, and a feeling that justice is not being served for the body of Christ right now.  The warrior inside of me cries out to God for justice, but the world around me compels me to believe that I am being led like a lamb to the slaughter, along with so many of my fellow sheep mates.  It’s very early in the morning on Tuesday, March 28th, today is our daughter Cali’s 30th birthday.  We celebrated with an array of Mexican food as a family at her home on Sunday afternoon, after church.  This is a main perk for Debi and I moving out here over two years ago; being close to family and celebrating the many milestones of our adult children and their children, our grandchildren. Cali also just finished her Master’s Degree, a two for one punch on her bucket list; clearly a princess warrior.

Yesterday, as I pulled my bus into the school bus lane at the elementary school that I service, I heard the news about the school shooting in Tennessee.  I was angry and upset at the same time.  I realized that this is the first Christian school shooting for America.  Until now, the shooters only focused on public schools.  As many of you already know, I was a Christian school superintendent for the better part of 20 years when I was in Gardena, CA. Before that, in my younger days, I did my time planting a church and Christian school in the early 90’s in Temecula, CA.  I served as principal for a brief stent and taught Bible classes there, not to mention, I headed up the maintenance department.  Those where grueling years when the days were long and the years were fast; our kids were young and so were our friends.  I grew immensely during those years, becoming the man of God that the Lord was forging me to be.  He took me from a self-centered, immature, and somewhat narcissistic boy in the early 80’s, to the broken, crushed, and humble man of God I am today, scars included. It’s been a great ride and an even greater honor to have served the Master all these years, growing in Him, maturing in my faith, and reeling from the way to many mistakes that I made along the way.  Such is life.

The shooting yesterday reminded me that we are not long for this world.  The victims, now patrons of heaven, are joined with many other millions of martyrs who have given their lives for the faith. I say martyrs because it was a conservative Christian school that was targeted.  My prayers go out to the seven families that have been severely affected by this unfortunate tragedy.  The three adults who were targeted and gunned down and the three children who were also taken senselessly.  The other victim is the shooter, the confused boy/girl whose lack of identity will leave him with less mourners, but his family also suffers for his actions.

When I was a cop, we were trained for these kinds of situations, all law enforcement were.  This is why the responding officers were able to neutralize the situation at the school so quickly.  The pre-planned lock down safety prodocals the school implemented also saved ultold more lives becasue the shooter was separated from his targets and attempted to shoot though locked doors, giving away his position to responding officers everytime he pulled the trigger. True warrior cops know what needs to be done when these things happen, when the target is sighted, the command is always the same, ‘two to the chest, one to the head.’  This is the clarion call from every rangemaster who ever trained tactical shooters from the line.  I have been trained by some of the best rangemasters over the years and I have come to conclude that they are more of a blessing to our culture than we realize.  Kudos to the responding officers from yesterday’s Christian elementary school battlefield; you fought well brothers (and sisters).  For all of the other lives that you saved in the process of your quick response, I salute you. Ooh Raah!

I don’t carry a gun on the bus or at the Christian school where I serve, it’s violates policy, but there are security protocols in place; but none greater than the Angel of the Lord who encamps round about those who fear Him.  He was also working on that Christian elementary school campus yesterday, saving many more lives.  While I don’t have any answers as to the why of this tragedy in light of God’s grace, I can say that the Lord is faithful and even in the midst of this tragedy, He is still working.  I am sad, angry, and a bit perplexed as to the intended target being a Christian school; which is a first.  I am equally aware of the nearness of the Lord’s return for His Church and the pre-tribulation era that we are living in right now.  While the Great Restrainer is still at work on the earth, we can see His steady hand of release beginning to move.  While I may have thought that our Christian schools were immune from school shootings, I now know differently.  Pastors and school leaders have taken measures to protect God’s people in both churches and schools from shooters and other invasive attacks; however, God is still the ultimate Protector of His people. 

Tragedies like what happened yesterday still happen because we live in a fallen and broken world.  As a Chaplain who has been trained to work with people who have experienced trauma, death, and loss in the worse ways, I am reminded that God is sovereign over everything and He is still working in the midst of the mess.

Truth be told, this tragedy, or any tragedy is NOT God’s fault.  The Lord never promised us a problem free, tragedy free life. He only told us that as we walk through this valley of the shadow of death that we call life, He will be with us every step of the way.  He alone has determined our exit moment of our life, however, when we leave, let’s hope that we’re ready to step across the veil and into an eternity with the Lord and all those who have called upon His name for their salvation.  To the six victims from yesterday’s shooting, those three precious children and the three valiant adults who served them well, they are all with Jesus in heaven, not because of anything that they did or did not do, but simply because they placed their faith in Jesus and what He did for them, for us.  Unfortunately for the shooter, it would have been better if he had never been born.  He goes into a Christ-less eternity, not because of the bad thing that he did yesterday, or the many other bad things that he may have done in his past. He goes to Hell because he left this life yesterday at the hands of responding officers, without Jesus

Each of us has to decide what we believe when it comes to placing our faith in Jesus.  The three adults who served in ministry at the school had already made their decision to serve the Lord long ago.  The three children, who may not have even reached the age of accountability, yet who were raised to know the Lord and had been placed in a Christian environment by their godly parents, in obedience to God’s Word, are now with Jesus.  It’s very sad, I am feeling sad for those families.  As Debi and I prayed for them last night, I couldn’t help but think how the close proximity of this tragedy to the Rapture of the Church will soon reunite those families with their loved ones in a glorious reunion that will pale in comparison to the trauma that they all experienced.

I close this blog with a prayer and a scripture for those families, those mothers, spouses, sibling children, and fellow classmates who have been traumatized by the loss of life in yesterday’s horrific Christian school shooting.  First a prayer, then the Word.

Dear Jesus, I come to you today on behalf of the seven families who now suffer for the tragic and senseless loss of their loved ones.  To the families who grieve over the loss and the many feelings that come with tragedy like this, I pray that you would intervene in a miraculous way.  Show Yourself strong on their behalf and minister in a deep and intimate way to those who were closest to these precious souls.  We know that we live in a fallen and sin-filled world and we know that You are greater than all of it. We thank You for saving the lives of so many more children and adults at that school who could have been lost. We thank You for the responding officers who moved quickly on their behalf to save those lives by stopping this shooter.  We pray for the shooter’s family who will suffer in a different way, and yet who still need You as much as any of us do.  Help us all to extend our faith, even in the midst of this mess, we know that You are working.  We have your Word to remind us and comfort us in knowing that these six souls are with you right now, in Your presence.  They have run their race, they have finished their course, and now there is laid up for them a crown of righteousness that God has prepared for them and for all who have loved His appearing.  Comfort us we pray dear Lord, comfort these families and minister to them as only You can do.  Help us to make sense of it in light of your grace and give us what we need to get through the days ahead.  We know that You are close, we feel Your presence, we need You like never before. Help us dear Lord we pray in our time of need.  Comfort us, counsel us, heal our hearts.  We love You, we need You, we trust You.  Grace, grace, grace.  In Jesus’ name Amen.

While I can’t find words enough to make any sort of sense in this tragedy, I am reminded of another tragedy that occurred in the OT where loss of life was the occasion as was deep grief, remorse, and a glimmer of hope for the future.  This was not because of anything that could be done in our efforts; rather, because of what God had already done as part of His eternal plan of hope for all who have placed their faith in Him.

“And the Lord struck the child that Uriah’s wife bore to David, and it became ill. 16 David therefore pleaded with God for the child, and David fasted and went in and lay all night on the ground. 17 So the elders of his house arose and went to him, to raise him up from the ground. But he would not, nor did he eat food with them. 18 Then on the seventh day it came to pass that the child died. And the servants of David were afraid to tell him that the child was dead. For they said, “Indeed, while the child was alive, we spoke to him, and he would not heed our voice. How can we tell him that the child is dead? He may do some harm!” 19 When David saw that his servants were whispering, David perceived that the child was dead. Therefore David said to his servants, “Is the child dead?” And they said, “He is dead.” 20 So David arose from the ground, washed and anointed himself, and changed his clothes; and he went into the house of the Lord and worshiped. Then he went to his own house; and when he requested, they set food before him, and he ate. 21 Then his servants said to him, “What is this that you have done? You fasted and wept for the child while he was alive, but when the child died, you arose and ate food.” 22 And he said, “While the child was alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, ‘Who can tell whether the Lord will be gracious to me, that the child may live?’ 23 But now he is dead; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.” 24 Then David comforted Bathsheba his wife, and went in to her and lay with her. So she bore a son, and he called his name Solomon. Now the Lord loved him, 25 and He sent word by the hand of Nathan the prophet: So he called his name Jedidiah (‘beloved of the Lord’), because of the Lord.”                                       – 2 Samuel 12:15-25

  • We can’t wrap our minds around such loss, especially when children are involved, however, even in this situation, God comforted, and provided. The child that was lost in this life, will be enjoyed throughout eternity in the next.  The same goes for all those who die in the Lord; one day soon, like David, we will go to be with them.  However, until that glorious day, a season of grief must come, but it will not stay, for there is hope for those who are in Christ, and for their loved ones who also die in Christ.

Sorrow may endure for a night (watch), but joy comes in the morning.  We don’t sorrow like those who have no hope, but unfortunately, there are times in this life when we do sorrow.  To God be the glory!


Encouragemen is a blog written by Pastor Rob Lee, recently relocated to Northern Missouri.  He lives with his wife of 33-years, near their three adult children, their spouses, and children (their grandchildren).  Pastor Rob is an Ordained Assemblies of God minister, a former Lead Pastor (25 years), police chaplain, and community advocate.  He continues to serve, consult, and disciple men of God, including those who are in the ministry. 

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