A More Perfect Peace

By Florissa Van De Pol

Photo by Dreamstime

We had just finished prayer at the end of morning worship at my small Christian elementary school when our principal appeared at the door of our third and fourth grade classroom and asked my sister and I to come to her office. As we followed her, I nervously racked my brain trying to figure out what could have been the reason for the unusual summons. 

Once in her office, I noticed that my older brother and youngest sister had also been sent for. The principal didn’t waste time with formalities, rather she quickly explained that my mother had received word that our father was making his way across the country to California and was intending to stop by our school once he had arrived. Because of his unstable behavior, he had been court ordered not to have any physical contact with any of our family. Not wishing us to be at school when he arrived, my mother had made arrangements for our grandmother to pick us up within the next half hour or so.

After letting us know what was going on, our principal instructed us to go back to our classroom and gather our things. After getting ready to go, it was soon time for recess and the entire class grabbed dodgeballs and hurried outside. But even as I went outside, I could not shake the huge knot that was beginning to form in my stomach. I didn’t even want to think of the situation that could ensue if he did show up at our school.

I sat down at one of the lunch tables, my mind racing a million miles, not feeling an ounce of the carefree delight being expressed in the laughs and shouts around me as first one student and then another was “tagged out." Not knowing what else to do, I made my way back into the classroom and, somehow, made my way over to the Bible shelf. How exactly this happened, I’m not sure. I don’t recall making a conscious decision that I needed to read the Bible or even (I’m ashamed to say) that I needed to pray regarding my situation. I absent-mindedly picked up one of the Bibles, let it flop open, and began to read. The Bible had opened to Psalm 91, “The Lord is your protection. You have made God Most High your place of safety. Nothing bad will happen to you. No disaster will come to your home. He has put his angels in charge of you. They will watch over you wherever you go. They will catch you with their hands. And you will not hit your foot on a rock.” As I read, a sense of awe began to replace the fear that I had been feeling moments before.

I couldn’t believe what I was reading; it was as if God was speaking directly to me. He had come to me when I had not even thought to reach out to him and given me the comfort that I so desperately wanted. After finishing the passage, I said a quick prayer of gratitude and placed the Bible back on the shelf. I walked outside to the playground and joined in the dodgeball game. Shortly afterward, my grandmother picked us up and took us to my aunt’s house. As I got into the car, I still felt that peace that I had felt just a little bit earlier, I didn’t know what the future held but I knew who held the future.