When my husband and I lived in the inner city, friends and relatives rarely came to visit because they were afraid of getting shot. I would think, “What are you afraid of? We’ve lived here fourteen years and only been shot at five times.” Encountering random gunfire in the city is not a daily occurrence as most would presume, though I can understand that for most people one close-encounter is one too many.
Let me say upfront that the majority of those we met while living in the inner city were average people wanting to live peaceful, productive lives. As a matter of fact, most of them were beyond average people wanting to make a difference in their communities and in the world at large. But yes, I will admit that while living in one of the most dangerous communities on the west side of Chicago, we did have our share of close encounters.
There was the time we were at our neighbor’s house, standing up to leave, when someone drove by and shot through the living room window, level with our heads. One of us should have been hit. Yet “somehow” the bullet lodged in the high corner of the wall, far above our heads. And there was the time we were driving home from a fourth of July picnic and someone shot off a random bullet, which lodged in the roof of our car just above my husband’s head. I can recount other stories with similar outcomes that were by no means merely coincidental.
What I learned through it all is this: there’s no safer place in the world than in the center of God’s will. We were in that neighborhood because God called us there to tell people of His power to free them from addiction and gang violence. So when we encountered that violence ourselves, God placed a shield of protection around us.
I once read of a missionary called to share God’s love with a cannibalistic tribe in a remote jungle of Papua New Guinea. Countless times he was nearly killed by spears, poisonous darts, arrows…but God kept him safe for as long as he needed breath to do what he was called to do.
In this crazy, violent age, the safest place to be is in God. It doesn’t ensure we will never experience physical harm, but that He will preserve us until our calling in life is complete. My prayer has always been: “Lord, preserve my life to fulfill every good work you have for me, until the day when my death will give you the greatest glory and honor.” And knowing He’s always been faithful, I walk in confidence and will not fear evil or death in these evil days.
“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.” (Psalm 46:1-3)