Devotional by Heidi DeVerna
I was sitting with my son in the children’s reading section of Barnes & Noble at 7:45 p.m. on a random night in March, 2006, when I received one of the most shocking phone calls of my life. I heard these words from my husband, Jason: “There’s been a shooting at our house. You need to come home.” My mind couldn’t quite process what he said, and I had too many questions to articulate. I quickly drove home to what looked like a crime scene drama on television. As events unfolded, God ultimately used this experience to teach me two important keys to walking in freedom.
At the time, our oldest son (Jared) was almost two, and our daughter (Jadyn) was two months old. The nightly routine had been to put Jadyn to bed at 7:30 and then give Jared thirty minutes of our undivided attention in the playroom. On this particular evening, however, I decided to take Jared to the mall to buy Jason’s birthday gift. My spontaneous decision to go shopping ultimately was one that could have saved our lives. God was already protecting us from what we didn’t know was about to happen.
Shortly after 7:30, Jason was sitting at his desk while Jadyn was already in bed. Suddenly, there were sounds like fireworks popping in our house, and a white fog filled the room from drywall pierced by bullets! In the end, we were told there were at least five 9mm bullets that entered our home from the playroom windows.
The first couple of hours after the shooting were somewhat of a blur. I laugh now at the confusing conversation with the police officers when they asked, “What do you do for a living?”, to which we replied, “Ummm… we’re pastors at Wave Church.” We were in the process of packing overnight bags when I called my mom to tell her what happened. As I stood in the playroom, describing the bullet holes, I turned towards a windowed door to our fenced-in backyard. There was a man’s face looking right at me! I screamed, hung up on my mom, and ran to hide. The police returned immediately and ended up catching the guy. However, they did not have evidence to actually link him to the shooting. He was simply charged with trespassing, and we were told that he lived in our neighborhood.
After the second incident, we eventually made it to the hotel and spent a sleepless night trying to piece together everything that had happened. I kept seeing the man’s face and felt numb yet paralyzed by fear all at the same time. Early the next morning, we went to the church to meet with Pastors Steve and Sharon. The four of us sat in Sharon’s office, shaking our heads and trying to make sense of the situation. I told them that I kept seeing the man’s face from the playroom window. Pastor Steve’s response surprised me, but his words literally changed the outcome of this event in my life. He strongly told me to look him in the eyes, pointed at me and said, “Number one–You are going to renew your mind, and number two–you will NOT let this touch your spirit.” I can still hear these words today as I write this. It was so much more than “pastoral advice”…it was a prophetic declaration of exactly what was needed to keep me from living with a spirit of fear.
We eventually learned that we were accidental victims of a drive-by shooting. The shots were intended for a person who just happened to run in front of our house, but this was also a spiritual attack on us. As believers, we understand that the enemy will try any available tactic (even a drive-by shooting!) to take us off course. However, we must determine (often a conscientious, intentional effort on our part) to live in the freedom that is only possible through Christ.
John 8:36 NIV
So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
I can’t tell you the number of times that I have returned to these words in the thirteen years since the shooting. Whether facing fear, anxiety, disappointment, etc…, these are still my “go to” keys for living in freedom. When life catches you off-guard, or when you experience something with the potential to hold you in bondage, I encourage you to say these words over and over, as often as necessary: “I am going to renew my mind, and I will not let this touch my spirit.” A “free spirit” is so much more than a cliché’ description of an uber-creative person…it is actually what God intends for each of us, and what He makes available to us when we choose to partner with Him in managing our words and thoughts.
Girls, you never know the full impact that just a few simple words can have on your life. Devoted is an environment to hear from God himself and to learn from gifted pastors and teachers. Come ready to receive all that God has for you and more!