…I will trust in thee.
The events of yesterday definitely sparked some fear in everyone at the Purdue campus. No one ever desires to get a text from the university warning students, staff, and faculty to “shelter in place” because there has been a shooting reported on campus. When something like this happens, there are facts you do not know and questions begin running through your mind as to what is going on. All you know is what has happened before.
I was in the middle of a grad class when we heard the tornado sirens go off and received the text warning of the shooting. Everyone including my professor immediately thought of Virginia Tech as we decided to add another table on top of the table already blocking the door to our classroom. As one of the students and the professor finished stacking the table, someone tried to open our door (most likely someone just trying to get out of the hallway), but it scared all of us grad students enough that the prof decided that it would be a good idea to just sit on the floor until given the all clear.
We were all calm as we sat on the cold floor talking about the situation. The professor tried to distract us by talking about what we did this weekend or interesting things that have been happening in daily life. Most of us were on cell phones or laptops letting everyone know we were okay as well as finding out updates as they came in. There was some levity too as we tried to stay upbeat. We weren’t scared so much as just hoping it would end soon and wondering about the chances of a shooter entering our building.
We all breathed a sigh of relief as the text and email came out that all was clear and that the university could continue normal operations. Though continuing “normal operations” would be hard to do after such a threat to campus safety. Walking outside of the classroom and the building, I noticed that the campus was eerily quiet. There was a giant crowd of students walking around, but you could see the shaken up look on everyone’s face. Everyone was still whispering while asking classmates if so-and-so was all right or if they’d heard from so-and-so. Obviously returning to “normal operations” wasn’t going to be easy. Even though, as we found out later, it wasn’t an active shooter, fear of what could have happened was taking its toll. No one was thinking about their next class, everyone was thinking about loved ones and safety.
Campus may have been cleared as “safe,” but no one felt “safe”.
Personally, I was experiencing a similar feeling of being rather shaken up and just wanting to go home. I had already cancelled one of the classes I teach in the afternoon and thankfully, got permission to also cancel my other class. I didn’t feel like teaching although I would’ve if I had been asked to, I just wanted to go home. Thus, I was glad to be on the bus homeward bound within about 30 minutes of the all clear message.
What has been the most amazing to me through the whole thing was the outpouring of love and concern. I posted on Facebook as updates came in. My Facebook pretty much exploded with so many assuring me they were praying, they loved me, and later, that they were thankful that my classmates and I were all safe. My phone also rang most of the afternoon as friends and family called and texted making sure I was okay and offering to listen if I needed to talk it through.
I feel for the victim’s family and have been praying for them. I also feel for the entire Purdue community as it will take time to feel safe again on campus. What I am thankful for though is that I have seen the providence and protection of God. I’m thankful for the police who arrived within a couple of minutes of gun shots being fired. I’m thankful that the shooter surrendered to police almost immediately, and that there wasn’t another shooter as many had feared. I’m thankful that an alert was sent out so quickly and that pretty much everyone knew what to do. I’m thankful for the understanding and concern from the university for the mental well-being of its staff, faculty, and students in the aftermath of this in letting us have a day off before continuing classes. I’m thankful as well because this tragedy could have been so much worse than how horrible it already is.
I’m thankful for the comfort and peace the Lord has given. So many hymns and scriptures have so much more meaning now. This hymn came to mind almost immediately afterwards, and I quietly sang it to myself on the way home:God’s angels encampeth ‘Round them that fear Him. We may not behold them, Our vision is dim. Oh, bear me up, angels, Across life’s shifting sand, Lest I should stumble, Bear me up in your hands.
That hymn and the hymn “Walk beside Me” and so many others have been going through my mind. Then, as I was catching up on my Bible reading last night, I read Isaiah 12 and felt comforted as well. God has become even more real to me after this experience because I have seen His hand and His protection. Thus…
whenever we are afraid because of any circumstance in life, we can truly trust in Him!
God has been my refuge daily, God has been my hiding place…