My heart, as so many others this morning is heavy. Heavy because for the first time the tragedy that has been unfolding around our nation has now come home to our own community. Officer Tim Smith was cut down in the line of duty by a young man with so much to live for. Life could have been different for this young man, he could have made better choices, he could have been a productive member of society…he could have been like Officer Smith. Instead he chose differently.
The question I ask myself is: Was he conditioned to do so? The culture not just amongst the African American community (but perhaps the most pronounced there) has been ravaged by fatherlessness, and if I had to take a guess, I would bet this young man had no father in his life. No one to show him what it means to actually live as a man. What it means to get up at the crack of dawn and go to work, to come home at the end of the day and help (in a perpetually exhausted state) with the homework. To sit down at the end of supper and speak truth from God’s word into his young heart, no one to kneel beside him in prayer as they petition the father who is in Heaven.
There indeed are two tragedies here, we will all focus on the one…as we should. But let us not forget the other…two lives have been lost. We have a choice as to how we respond to this tragic event, and I will be the first to admit that I am angry, infuriated by the thought of what occurred in our community. I am angry that Officer Smith’s children will grow up without a father…I am angry that this young man likely had no positive influence from his father. Yet, scripture declares that I am not to allow the sun to go down upon my anger…That I am to be angry but not to sin. Therefore I confess my anger to God and I shake my fist at heaven. Why? Why? Why?
Scripture tells us that we are to submit ourselves to the governing authorities, submission begins at home, as a father teaches his children to respect and submit to his own authority. When the father is not present though, these lessons are not being taught. I can tell you that if there is one problem to fix in our society that may in fact have the desired snowball effect in fixing the others that exist…it is the recognition of and submission to the authorities that God has placed over us.
We have all seen the graphic that depicts the thin blue line. The badge with one thin blue stripe sandwiched between two black stripes. Perhaps what we don’t know however is where this term originated, or what it means. The term itself originated in Great Britain the design represents the wall of police protection between the criminal elements and the general population of good and honest citizens. This line is now blurred as many have come to see the protective elements of our society as the enemy…where does that leave us when the forces that are supposed to be focused on protecting the civil order are now having to defend their own lives instead of ours. It is time for us, as a society of good order and good people to build a wall between the criminal elements and the men and women of law enforcement.
How do we build that wall? There are many ways we can help. To start with…we can and should be praying for these men and women on a daily basis. As a community we can let the criminal elements that exist know that they are not welcome here lest they put aside their criminal order and choose instead to contribute in the building back of the walls. As men we can teach our children what it means to make sacrifices for the general good of others, we can show them that there are other ways to accomplish equality than violence. We lift up men like Martin Luther King Jr. instead of boys like Tupac. We can lift up men like Abraham Lincoln instead of boys like Robert Byrd.
First thing is first however and that first thing is prayer, this community has an opportunity to demonstrate their willingness to set things right. It was reported that on Wednesday at 7pm, Liberty Baptist Church in Eastman, Ga. will be holding a prayer rally for exactly this purpose…to my knowledge everyone is welcome. Please consider attending this event as we learn well to pray.