"God, what are we going to do now?"
That is the question I silently asked myself on August 20, 2013, when an armed gunman came into the school where I worked and trapped me in a front office, just the two of us. Today, people ask me about that question, and why those particular words came into my mind. Well, I tell them, "God, what are we going to do now?" is something I'd asked myself many times before that day. And so, with my life and the lives of hundreds of children on the line, I knew it was the right question to ask.
I could have said, "What am I going to do now?" but I didn't. Why? Because I was not in charge of what was happening in that office, and neither was the gunman. God was in charge.
I learned this the hard way. In my life I've had many blessings but I've also gone through some trying times--including the birth of a disabled son and the end of my long marriage to the only man I've ever loved. There were times in my life when I felt hopeless and defeated and truly alone in my struggle. I could not find a way out of my troubles, and so I began to think there wasn't one. There were even moments when I considered giving up on life altogether.
And all that happened because I was asking the wrong question--"What am I going to do now?"
Over time I found great comfort in the Bible, and the many days and weeks and months I spent reading the word of God led me to a life-saving realization--I am not alone in my journey, and I never have been. In fact, I am not even the most important figure in my journey--God is. It is God's journey more than it is mine, and to cut Him out of it is to take far too much credit for myself. There were never just two people in that schoolroom on August 20. It was always me, the gunman and God.
You see, there will be times in our lives when we just can't figure out a solution to our problems. Times when we are handed lemons and can't for the life of us make lemonade. Sometimes all we can think to do is throw the sour old lemons away. But that is where God comes in. God doesn't throw away the lemons. God glorifies them. God takes the trash of our lives--our worst moments, our biggest fears--and he uses it to elevate us to where he needs us to be. So even if you think you can't push past the pain any longer, realize that God can help you, and God will help you. Even if you can't figure out a solution, realize that God will always lead you to one.
That is what I did when I was at my very lowest--I conceded that God was in control, not me. I talked to God every day and more importantly I listened for Him every day, too. And God gave me the strength I needed to persevere. He moved me out of the darkness and into the light.
So I knew God was there with me in that front office, and I knew God would help me find a solution. If I had asked, "What am I going to do now?" I would have take God right out of the equation. I would have prevented him from elevating me to where He needed me to be. I would have given in to my own fears and doubts and insecurities, and that could have changed the course of events on August 20. Instead, I was calm, and I listened for God's words and let them flow through me. Whatever I accomplished that day, it's because God elevated me to where he needed me to be.
This is a good lesson for all of us in our lives. Do not give yourself all the credit for your life. Do not believe all the good that happens is your own doing. If you start giving yourself the glory instead of God, you will miss out on everything He has planned for you. You will never discover your true purpose on this earth.
In other words, be humble. Giving yourself too much glory is being closed to God. Likewise, being humble is being open to God. I learned the lesson of humility long before August 20, when God saved me from my own despair. And I learned it again in that schoolroom, when the armed gunman walked in.
Today, my life has changed because of what happened in that school. I have written a book, Prepared for a Purpose, and there are many people who want to talk to me and listen to my story. And if I am not careful it would be easy for me to start giving myself too much credit. It would be easy for me to lose my way. But I am careful--very careful. I have learned how to be humble, and I will never cut God out of the equation again.
Try making this change in your own life. Do not start the day asking, "What am I going to do for myself today?" Instead, ask, "Whose life am I going to help change today?" And, "Whose soul am I going to help save?" Accept that you are not on this journey alone--that God is always with you, no matter how dark and lonely your journey gets. Give Him the credit, and ask Him for help, and believe He will raise you up. Ask yourself, "God, what are we going to do now?"
Because God can turn any lemon into lemonade, and He always adds the right amount of sugar.