by Julia Summers
January 7, 2012. It was a normal Saturday night. Around 9:30 p.m., my mom got a phone call from her best friend, Sue Day, and everything changed. My family, already in our pajamas, rushed to our car and drove as fast as we could to the hospital. I remember sitting in the passenger seat of my mom’s car, crying, praying. We arrived at the hospital before the Day family did. When I think of that night, the first thing I see is my best friend, Kelsey, running into my arms. Tears were streaming down both of our faces, and we just held onto each other for a few seconds, praying.
One of my closest family friends, Caleb Day, was shot that night. He and his friends were sitting in the boulevard at the Mall of Louisiana, and all of a sudden he was on his feet, running for his life. “The first thing I remember from that night is kneeling in a pool of my own blood.” Caleb says. “Right when I realized that I had been shot, I got a little scared and a little overwhelmed, but I said a quick prayer. After that, I felt calm.”
That night, my biggest fear was Caleb dying. I did not know how bad his injuries were, or if he would even make it through the night. Caleb, however, was not afraid of death.
“To be honest with you, I was not scared I was going to die.” Caleb says. “There was something that came over me that allowed me to feel comforted. I knew everything would be okay. Most of my fears had to do with my parents and sisters, and how they would deal with it. Another concern was never being able to play baseball again.”
God has done miraculous things in Caleb’s life since the shooting, and the shooting has impacted the lives of his friends and family forever. Not only has Caleb recovered physically, but he has also grown tremendously spiritually.
“God has given me a new perspective of life in general. You always hear that you can’t take any day for granted, but after going through something like I did, it becomes real.” Caleb says. “After going through that, I fully understood that you really do have to live every day for the Lord.”
A verse that has been in my heart for a long time, and that encouraged me during Caleb’s shooting, is James 1:2-4. It says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” This verse always reminds me that God places hardships and trials in our lives for a reason. He is testing our faith, which is allowing us to grow closer to Him.
Caleb’s recovery was grounded in prayer and faith in God. He knew from the night of the shooting that God was in control. While Caleb faced physical and spiritual struggles, he held onto his faith and persevered. As we begin this school year, I want to encourage you to never give up, persevere, and remember that God has a plan for you. No matter how hard things get, keep James 1:2-4 in mind. God is teaching you something in everything He does, and it is our job to trust that He will remain faithful to us.