“Shots fired.” Two words paralyzed a city this week. While shots are fired almost on a daily basis in the Huntsville area, the location of this threat was different. The 911 call came from Redstone Arsenal, the sprawling government reservation that includes the Marshall Space Flight Center, an army post, and a host of defense contractors. 40,000 people work daily on the Arsenal. And almost everyone in the Huntsville area who does not work there has friends or relatives that do.
The lockdown affected everyone there, but the rest of the metro area held their collective breaths as we awaited word about what was going on. The television reporters set up outside the closed gates and the usual fare of programming was suspended for about three hours until the “all clear” was sounded.
It turned out to be a false alarm and no shots were ever verified. Weapons were never found on anyone whose job was not providing security to the facility. But with all the terrorism in the world these days, there were many nervous people in north Alabama. All of a sudden it was no longer “those folks over there”, it was “us here”. It became real in a hurry.
And it brings up the question of what makes us safe these days. In the past we relied on police or the fact that we lived in places far from population centers. But that does not protect us any more. There was an arrest recently in Huntsville of a person who was collaborating with Isis (allegedly). Big city, small town, urban, rural, it does not matter any more.
So where do we go for safety? There were many this week who posted they were praying for people on the Arsenal. Does that do any good? I believe it does. I believe that prayer is not the last resort but the first line of defense. There is a verse that comes to mind, Psalm 20:7 “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.”
We live in a metropolitan area that is known for its weapon development. But the biggest and best firepower cannot ultimately protect us from all danger. Our house has an alarm system that we arm every night, but that cannot protect us from all danger. We live in a relatively safe neighborhood and have neighborhood watch programs, but that is not a complete guarantee of safety.
Ultimately, there is no way we can avoid all danger and trouble. We are susceptible to all kinds of attacks. So how can we live and enjoy our lives in such a world?
The answer is God. We place our lives in God’s hands. Another verse from the book of Psalms (31:15) says, “My times are in your hands deliver me from the hands of my enemies, from those who pursue me.”
That does not mean that evil will not attack us. That does not mean that we will be exempt from depression or sickness or economic downturns. That means that even though we may have to face “shots fired” situations, we can trust in God. We place our lives and our families in God’s hands and know that, even if the worst happens, God will enable us to overcome and not be defeated. It is not a magic talisman that causes bullets to bounce off us. It is source of calm in the midst of the storm. “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31b)
I can live with that. Can you?