October 23, 2018 John Echols

First Reactor vs. First Responder

First Reactor vs. First Responder

An Unexpected Event

October 23, 2018 - My family lives near a nuclear weapons facility.


Pantex, located a few miles northeast of Amarillo, TX, is the primary facility for the final assembly, dismantlement and maintenance of nuclear weapons for the United States. Most days it operates in relative obscurity, much tamer than during the heyday of the Peace Farm protests during the Cold War. All that changed this morning at 11:59 AM when @PantexPlant tweeted: “The Pantex Plant is experiencing an operational emergency. The Emergency Response Organization has been activated.”


Wow! Not what you expect or want to hear on a normal day in the Texas Panhandle. As I read the news reports, I was struck by the comments on social media. Some were scared, many were worried, all wanted answers. I was especially intrigued by those who “demanded” to be told what was going on. In this age of instant news and communication, it seems we are conditioned to expect immediate answers, and when they aren’t immediately available, we get frustrated.


What I saw today on a small scale represents what I see as a larger problem in society as a whole, and this has infiltrated into the Body of Christ. Here’s the problem: Are you a First Reactor or a First Responder? Read on before you answer.


The tweet from @PantexPlant provided the appropriate information at the time. Here’s what they said: Something has happened and the appropriate people are responding. Notice they didn’t use the word REACT, they used the word RESPONSE. Many may believe that these words are the same, yet they are as different as oil and water. When you react, you don’t think, it’s usually a knee-jerk, emotional reaction without all the facts. When you respond, there’s reason and knowledge involved, and then you take action. Many today on social media were reacting out of emotion, and that’s natural; but emotions tell us where we are (scared, hurt, sad, confused, worried, etc.), not how to act (angry, impulsive, passive-aggressive, demanding, judgmental, etc.).


As you transfer a situation like this (an unexpected event) into your life as a Christian, should we react or respond? I believe that we should be responding with truth, rather than reacting with emotion. I believe that Satan deceives us into thinking that we have to react and fix the problem right away vs. responding with the truth of God’s love. This gets us into trouble and creates sin in our lives because we relied on our limited understanding of the unexpected event.


"The Emergency Response Organization at Pantex is a highly-trained group of employees with detailed knowledge of plant operations and emergency response procedures. These employees represent plant functions such as security, logistics, safety, medical response, radiological assessment, firefighting, operations and public information." This phrase didn’t make it into the tweet but was part of the official media release from @PantexPlant this morning when the security event started. These ERO folks have been trained, they have been tested, they have been given the seal of approval to triage, contain, control, and bring to closure an unexpected event like this. They are First Responders, approaching an unexpected event with the necessary training and materials. Everyone had a role to play, and they stayed in their lane. 48 minutes after the initial tweet, @PantexPlant sent this: “The security event at Pantex has ended without incident.”


Integration time. Are you one who REACTS or RESPONDS? Do you have the training, have you been tested, do you have the seal of approval? If you are a Christian, the answer is yes, even if you don’t think so. It’s a simple as telling your story and trusting God to lead you, walking by Faith through the expected and unexpected events in your life. Satan wants us to think that God doesn’t provide all the answers for every situation. That’s a lie. 2 Peter 1:3 says that, “His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence.” ESV


Look at your life – every situation. Are you a First Reactor or a First Responder?

First Reactors lead with their emotions. First Responders lead with their minds.

Choices based on reactions lead to sin.

Choices based on renewing your mind leads to righteousness.

Sin Reacts - Faith Responds.

The choice is yours.