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→
The sheep is just doing what sheep do. It’s probably picking its way along an uneven path, following the ewe ahead of it, and somehow misses its footing on the side of a hillock. It could be injured from the fall or maybe caught in brambles at the bottom, but regardless, now it is alone and vulnerable. Time is of the essence.
When the shepherd realizes one of his flock is missing, he has to act quickly; he has a very narrow window of opportunity. He knows the other sheep will instinctively huddle together as a group and be safe, at least temporarily, so he hurries off to find the lost animal before it is picked off by a predator.
Today is my Dad’s 91st birthday and there’s a Christian song so reflective of his life, it could have been written specifically about him. After I tell you a bit of his story, I think you’ll agree.
The fact that he’s lived 91 years is remarkable in and of itself. This is a guy whose fragile health as a child had doctors predicting he would never reach adulthood.
Eighty or so years and several health crises later, he still preaches at his church, shares his faith anytime there’s an “open door”, joins his friends for breakfast twice a week, and until recently was a chaplain on call at the local hospital.
While our culture values flash and sizzle and the goal of many continues to be fame and fortune, one trait always equals success in God’s economy: faithfulness. I am privileged to have been raised by a father who modeled that trait every day of his life and continues to do so at almost 90 years old.
This remarkable man, Wallace Rivers, is featured today on Jeremy Statton’s blog: www.jeremystatton.com/wallace-rivers. Won’t you stop by and read about him? And while you’re there, enjoy all the other great content Jeremy has to offer to help you “live a better story”.
“Children’s children are a crown to the aged, and parents are the pride of their children.” Proverbs 17:6 (NIV)