Terror hit my Canadian city on a typical Saturday night in late September 2017. That night, our football stadium was full of fans of every colour and faith. Those of us who aren’t into football hoped the crowds coming out of the game wouldn’t be too rambunctious. I heard sirens go by, but I didn’t think much of it, after all, I live on an avenue that has a lot of nightclubs and bars. It was a weekend evening, it was to be expected.
Upon awakening, I scrolled down my Facebook feed where I read that a local police officer had been stabbed. I thought it was just a rowdy fan upset at his team’s loss. Then I read of a lone terrorist’s deliberate rampage, seriously injuring several pedestrians by ramming them with a truck he rented. Hundreds of young people who moments before were out on the streets looking for fun, ran down narrow back alleys looking for a place of retreat and safety. Although the attack resulted in no loss of life, it left a deep impact.
I couldn’t take it in. Most of my friends are numb if the truth be told. After church on Sunday, we avoided the subject, and we talked about other things. After all, just a few hours before the attack, I passed by a sweet young couple, obviously much in love. They teased one another as they climbed up a steep outdoor staircase, the husband making a great show of how exhausted he was, hamming it up for his sweetheart. They were cute, I thought. The word Muslim didn’t enter my head, although she wore a hair covering, marking her as such. I had no fear in my heart toward them the day before the attack, and I still don’t two days afterwards. They are just part of the multi-cultural mosaic that makes up my city.
Today, October 2, 2017, I awoke to the news of the massacre in Los Vegas, USA. Not a terrorist act, news agencies report. In reality, this was an act of terror that wounded a nation, while inflicting trauma, grief, and lasting injuries in the lives of hundreds who were directly targeted by this madman. Again, I felt numb. It’s easier to become numb to such events, isn’t it? There is only so much we can take in, it gets overwhelming after a while. Headline after headline, photo after photo of traumatised survivors and white sheets covering victims bodies does that to a person.
I felt the Lord say today is not the time to retreat. It is not the time for His Church to turn their eyes and say it is much too much for us. Now is not the time to become resigned and sigh,”It’s just a sign of the times.” No, Church! Now is not the time for us to retreat and to look away. Now is not the time to put on soothing music and withdraw. Now is the time for warfare; not against man, but against our common foe.
Now is the time for the church to become the ‘Sign of the Times”. Now is the time for us to be a billboard that boldly states, “There is a better way than cowardice, fear, apathy, and self-preservation.” Now is the time for the Church to be who Christ raised us to be. Now is the time for the church to love without fear, to hope beyond hope, and to give freely. Now is the time for radical generosity and radical acts of kindness.
Paul could have written the following to us today as we try to wrap our minds and hearts around the reality we face on this October morning of 2017. This is the Lord’s charge to us! Do not retreat! This passage is a Rhema word, grab it, it holds life, and it holds God’s marching orders!
Ephesians 6:10-13 – “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”
STAND firm. Look forward, unflinchingly. Do not retreat, do not numb yourself. Gird up your loins is a term we often use but perhaps some of you might not be aware of what it means. Back in biblical days, men wore robes that hung below their knees, making it difficult to run. Girding their loins meant to hike up their robes with a belt, so they were ready to leap into battle at a moment’s notice. So to, ready yourself today.
I wrote the following article in 2001, shortly after the attacks on September 11. While we deliberately follow the Lord into battle, we must never forget “The Battle Belongs to the Lord.”
If you find yourself habitually running for the confines of your comfort zone when faced with uncertain times, I highly recommend this classic, “Freedom from Fear”, on the subject of breaking free from habitual fear and anxiety. As Christ sets you free from crippling chronic fear, He will set you on a hill for your light to shine as a beacon.
All Bible verses, unless otherwise attributed, are from the English Standard Version (ESV).
Until Next Week
©2017 Katherine Walden
Sign up to receive a weekly emailed devotional by Katherine by using the following form.