The headline read, “Cop-Shooting Fugitive Dies in Gun Battle with State Police and FBI”.
The incident itself was all too familiar — a disturbed guy with a lengthy criminal record shoots and wounds a small-town police officer following a traffic stop, then flees into a nearby forest. He is armed and desperate.
He breaks into a church, where he steals donation money, medical supplies, and food. He is then spotted with an assault rifle and a shoulder belt of ammunition, running through the church cemetery toward an abandoned house.
Never a good situation.
An FBI SWAT team and the State Police track him there and in the ensuing confrontation, an agent is wounded and the subject is killed. The automatic rifle is found next to the gunman’s lifeless body, suggesting he was bent on more violence had he not been stopped.
This man was clearly troubled and homicidal, arguably even suicidal, to shoot a police officer and then engage in an armed standoff with law enforcement. He represented a danger to himself and everyone around him until he was finally brought down in a hail of bullets.
My dad was behind his desk hard at work when I walked into his office that day after junior high. At the sound of my voice his face softened into a smile and he looked up.
The order of that was especially meaningful to me:
And then he looked up.
To my young heart, that said he had welcomed me even before he made eye contact with me. In that moment, I felt secure and valued by my dad; I knew he was glad to receive me and was interested to hear whatever I had to say. All these years later, I can still see his reaction in my mind and feel the love in that gesture. (He probably wouldn’t think there was anything remarkable about it; that was just his way.)
This morning that memory flooded back to me when I read this verse in the Psalms:
My pastor used that phrase this Fathers’ Day as he prayed for the dads in our congregation and I was floored. The truth and responsibility of that observation was sobering, as it should be. Father. Oh, how wonderful it would be if all fathers aspired to be worthy of sharing that title with God. And thankfully, many do.
But today I read a blog post by a dear woman who was only able to overcome the damaging influence of her own father by recounting the negative lessons she learned from him. She concluded that it was the lesson of stubbornness he modeled that ultimately saved her from him.
Reading the comment string on that post was wrenching. Readers shared about dads who had abused, dads who had died, dads who had left, dads who were just emotionally…missing. So many people have had negative experiences with fathers, and as fathers. Continue reading Sharing A Title With God→