Last week brought unwanted excitement to Forsyth County. A man wearing 2 bullet proof vests and a gas mask and carrying an assault riffle drove an SUV loaded with explosives to the front door of our county courthouse. He was intent on deadly mayhem, and he got it…..except the mayhem was on him.
One of our sheriff’s deputies saw the suspect approaching the courthouse and engaged him outside. A gun fight ensued. Police backup was called, and our local SWAT team (who had just completed a drill and were dressed in full combat gear) arrived in 37 seconds. Yep, 37 seconds. The suspect – who was determined to take lives – lost his life within the first 2 minutes of the engagement.
The safety of our civilians rested in one thing: our law enforcement officials were prepared. They were trained, alert, and ready to step into battle. They had participated in drills to train their reflex reactions. They were aware of their surroundings….conscious of danger. As law enforcement officials, they long ago accepted that they would likely find themselves in extremely dangerous situations….and they were willing to put themselves in harm’s way.
I’m incredibly thankful for the quick response by those men and women. More importantly, I’m inspired by it. Because of their preparedness, they did their jobs with excellence last week. I have a job, too: to represent my God to a watching world. Sometimes that job requires me to speak about my faith; other times that job simply requires me to model Godly behavior while others quietly watch. Either way, if I’m not ready to speak or act in ways that honor God, I will squander the opportunities I have to lead others to know or understand God. If I haven’t trained myself in the quiet moments of life, I won’t be ready to respond when storms roll in. And, trust me, storms WILL roll in.
So, how can you and I be prepared to do our jobs as followers of God?
- Know what the Bible says. Read it. Memorize it. Study it. Learn the principles by which God relates to us and expects us to behave.
- Pray. Talk to God. Listen to Him. Ask for help. Ask for opportunities to serve. Thank Him for His goodness.
- Discipline our tongues and emotions. Learning to guard our words and responses to others takes practice. Speaking before thinking often produces moments we regret, so we must train ourselves to pause before those biting words tumble out of our mouths. We must train ourselves to pause long enough for heated emotions to die down before we engage someone else.
- Sharpen one another. Learn from one another. Listen to church messages, read books, build a small group of Christian friends, and spend some one-on-one time with a trusted mentor or friend. People in these settings grow in faith faster than those who aren’t.
Life happens. Kids ask questions. People divorce. Cancer strikes. Consequences hurt. When life happens, I want to be prepared. My effectiveness depends on it. Maybe, just maybe, someone else might depend on it, too.
Who is depending on you today? Will you be prepared to respond in a way that honors God?