“But he who listens to me will dwell secure and will be at ease, without dread of evil” (Proverbs 1:33).
This verse came on my radar this week as I read about the “first” church shooting which occurred September 15, 1999 (20 years ago). It occurred at the Wedgewood Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas. I remember it well. It happened on a Wednesday night. Seven people were killed, including a fourteen year old girl named Cassie Griffin. You can read more of her story and how the church responded by going to Denisonforum.org.
That event was seared on my mind. At the time I imagined that Wedgewood Baptist was very much like First Baptist Covington, Louisiana, where I serve as pastor. That event took away my innocence about evil and the church in America. After that night we immediately set out to have security at our church.
Who would have ever thought that “security” would be a major focus of church administration and a large line item in church budgets? But, it is, and it started 20 years ago.
Cassie Griffin and the others killed that night were in a church prayer meeting when the shooting started. She was sitting on the second row. Her father said she lived for God.
As you might expect, Cassie’s parents experienced unimaginable grief and many serious questions. Cassie’s father described how he became bitter and angry.
Speaking at the 20th anniversary of the shooting, Cassie’s father talked about finding a marked verse in her Bible. It was Proverbs 1:33 which is given above.
In Cassie’s translation it read, “Whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm.” Cassie had drawn a line under without and had circled fear.
Cassie’s father said finding that verse was a “sacred moment.” He said the verse doesn’t say that we won’t have to be persecuted or die for our faith, but it does say that we don’t have to live in fear. In the worst of times and in the face of evil and wickedness, we can live in hope and peace and without fear.
We never know what our future will be like, but we know we have a Savior who is at work in us to give peace and hope.