For thou hast been a shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy. I will abide in thy tabernacle for ever: I will trust in the covert of thy wings. Selah.
~ Psalm 61: 3-4
Last Thursday, my phone received a message no one ever wants to receive. The first way I knew something was up is both my phone, and the phones of all of my coworkers beeped for a text message, then rang at the same time. The message was quite simple, in retrospect, but was terrifying at the time.
An emergency condition exists on campus. Please evacuate as calmly and quickly as possible. Exit all buildings and proceed off campus to First Baptist Church.
We get notifications all the time. But generally, it is just by email for things like weather watches, etc. With this, it was text message, email, voice call to both cell phones and office phones. The emergency condition ended up being a seemingly creditable bomb threat which had been called into the county 911 center.
A bomb threat. I am a planner by nature. I think through many possible situations. We have been through training for severe weather, power outages, active shooters, hostage situations, snow storms and what I thought was everything else. But I had never thought about a bomb. The thought had honestly never crossed my mind.
But, this post is not about the bomb threat. It was not about the evacuation, which went as well as could have been imagined. Instead, I want to write about scriptures which have been bouncing around my head ever since Thursday afternoon.
Scripture talks over and over again how the Lord is our strength, our salvation, our strong tower, and our refuge. But on Thursday, thousands of students, faculty, and staff were taking that assurance literally. The monument of logic and reason was no longer safe. Regardless of faith or belief, they all took shelter in quite literally the shadow of the Cross.
For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock. And now shall mine head be lifted up above mine enemies round about me: therefore will I offer in his tabernacle sacrifices of joy; I will sing, yea, I will sing praises unto the Lord.
Psalm 27: 5-6
I’m not saying the evacuation was a good thing. I was a horrifying time that I hope was never repeated. But, in the midst of that terror, God’s word was still true.
Then your light shall break forth like the morning, Your healing shall spring forth speedily, And your righteousness shall go before you; The glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
Isaiah 58: 8 (NKJV)
All of this happened on November 1st. The day before was the anniversary of Martin Luther posting his Ninety-Five Theses in 1517, which is marked by many as Reformation Day and the beginning of the Protestant movement. Martin Luther also wrote a hymn which I believe is appropriate.
A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing;
Our helper He, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing:
For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and power are great, and, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.
Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing;
Were not the right Man on our side, the Man of God’s own choosing:
Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabaoth, His Name, from age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.
And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us:
The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.
That word above all earthly powers, no thanks to them, abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours through Him Who with us sideth:
Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also;
The body they may kill: God’s truth abideth still,
His kingdom is forever.
The Colonnade (the school newspaper) has a photo of the assembled group on their Facebook Page.