Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Be Tuff

On Dec. 14, 2012, a young man walked into a school in Connecticut and killed 20 small children and 6 teachers.  Then he killed himself.   Horrible, right?  So horrible it couldn’t ever happen again...

...Until August 21, 2013 when a man walked into the office of an elementary school in Atlanta with an AK-47.  He pointed his gun at the receptionist and shouted, "This is not a joke. This is real. We are all going to die today." He had 500 bullets!  The receptionist, Antoinette Tuff, was not supposed to be there that day.  It was her day off but she agreed to substitute for someone else.    What would you do?  Would you scream?  Cry?  Run?  Freeze? Panic? 

Do you know what Antoinette did?   She remained calm.  She was respectful of the man and followed his orders to tell the police not to come into the building.  She helped him remain calm.  As time went on, she began to show him God’s love.  He told her he wanted to commit suicide.  She encouraged him not to.  She told him about how she had been homeless, how her husband had left her.  She had had a very difficult life too.  Finally, he agreed to surrender.   He didn’t shoot anyone.  She offers to walk outside with him so they won't harm him.  As the police arrested she said, “It's going to be all right sweetie, I just want you to know I love you, OK, and I am proud of you. That's a good thing you've given up, and don't worry about it. We all go through something in life." 

(excerpts from NPR program)

She was the heroine.  She saved countless lives. 

Here is another true story.    A Honduran was driving his car.  Two robbers jumped in his car and pointed a gun at him.  They said, “Man, you are going to die today.”  At the worst moment of his life, the driver responded, “I don’t want to die today.  I have 2 young children.  But -- To live is Christ, to die is gain.”  The robbers didn’t kill him, they let him go.  One robber, now a Christian, said it was the first time he understood there was a power greater than his own.

In the worst moments of their lives, facing immediate and violent death, Antoinette and the Honduran driver responded with faith.  How were they able to do that?   They were prepared.  Spiritually prepared.

Do you know how Antoinette started her day?  The same way she starts every day.  Antoinette calls it “anchoring.”  Every morning she reads the Bible, prays and sits quietly for 15 minutes listening to the Lord.  That day she read Psalm 23:  Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.  She didn’t know that she would be in the valley of the shadow of death in just a few hours.  When the gunman pointed the gun at her she knew that “thou art with me...”  

Later she said, “I could not repeat what I said if you asked me. I had no idea what I was saying. I know it was God.   I knew that he was feeling something deep in his heart, that no matter what was going on in his life, he needed someone to show him love and not judge him. I wanted to show him that in spite of what he was doing, that God loved him.”

Like Antoinette told the gunman, “We all go through something in life.”   We never know when something will happen.  Look at Tia Angela and Tia Rosalina. When they lost their sons, they responded with faith.  All these people prepare themselves every day.

We are entering the season of Lent.  This is a time of reflection and preparation.   Let’s all follow Antoinette’s advice: 
“ Make sure that you prepare yourself for a purpose. And when God calls your number, make sure that your heart is open to receive what directions he give you.”
Brothers and sisters in Christ:  Be tuff.  Be prepared.