You may want to read Part One before proceeding with the following post:
Eyes shut and heart full, our new friend remembered petitioning God that fateful morning that claimed the lives of three friends and injured eight others. Coming into His presence had always been safe, a place of peace and not fear, a place of security and not chaos. The unimaginable surreal moment of witnessing a horrific attack on faithful friends was an oxymoron of all that prayer represented, and would be a difficult struggle to understand in the years that defined her teenage memories.
The media hounded the families of the victims as well as those of the survivors. This young girl’s identity slowly intertwined with the events of that day, and admittedly, her faith began to waver. Approaching God in prayer no longer seemed safe to her, particularly when the last time she closed her eyes, bullets ricocheted through the foyer halls and into the bodies of those she loved. Any type of sound remotely resembling gunfire sent her scrambling to her knees and another reminder that safety for her seemed not to exist. Fear of crowds, fear of worship, and fear of prayer perpetuated an unstable and distancing relationship with the Lord, and left her questioning everything she had ever believed in.
Ten years would go by before she would try again to approach the One who loves her most.
About four months ago, and several weeks before we met, this young girl decided to attend a Living Proof simulcast in a local church that would broadcast to others nationwide. She was among the joyful thousands in attendance, and hopeful that the teachings over the weekend would jumpstart a restored relationship with God.
She remembers a little about the night’s events, but what she remembers most was the fear. Concentration was difficult, and when the lights dimmed, safety concerns returned. She was unable to close her eyes during prayer and no matter how earnestly she tried, her heart was not in a state to worship. Her attendance appeared to be a wasted effort and all consuming discouragement replaced all spiritual hope.
Later that night and before going to bed, disappointment flooded the wide-eyed conversation and vent session she had aloud with God. She wanted to feel secure with Him, she remembers imploring. She desired a closer relationship, and wanted to live a life absent of the ever-present fear. His Word promised to sustain, comfort and keep her, so where was He when she needed Him most?
She just wanted to feel safe.
The next morning she lined up outside the church hosting the event with about two thousand others. As she was standing among the crowd, a man she had never seen before steadily approached her.
“Come with me,” he said.
“I can’t come with you,” she replied. “I don’t know you.”
“I’m going inside of the church and you’re going to want to go where I am headed,” he responded.
Hesitantly, the young girl followed, somehow more curious than afraid. The man led her into the cavernous sanctuary where Beth Moore and Travis Cottrell led worship the night before. The two thousand seats were completely empty and the man looked at the young girl and said, “You may sit anywhere you would like. Choose any seat.”
“I can sit anywhere?” the girl asked.
“You may sit anywhere,” said the man and then he walked away.
The young girl sat down in her seat, all alone and in the same sanctuary that withheld the coveted security and safety she had been seeking hours earlier.
“Lord, please keep me safe,” the girl remembers saying aloud as she waited anxiously in the empty church……
(final part tomorrow)