Saturday, September 5, 2015

Deliver us...

from evil...

Watching the funeral of Deputy Darren Goforth yesterday, I had so many conflicting feelings.

Seeing his grief stricken young widow and two young children, my heart went out to them.  A little boy, dressed in the Captain America shirt that matched the one his daddy wore under his uniform, in his casket, a teenage daughter who has lost her hero, a wife, wearing the badge of her husband over her heart, dressed in dignity and grace that stood in stark contrast to the evil that murdered her husband.  I watched with the eyes of a woman whose daddy had served as a police officer for his entire career,  Visions of my own father, a very human man, with flaws and short comings of his own, ran like a tape recording through my mind.  He was a police officer, a cop, a flatfoot, a copper, a "pig" to some.  To me, he was my father, my daddy, my hero. I believe Deputy Goforth was exactly that to his precious children, who have now been robbed of ever seeing him again, this side of heaven.

"The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit..."

Psalm 38:18 NKJV

I have many conflicting images of my dad, as a Police Officer. Memories take me to the evening I was about ten years old, excited to be going to the carnival down the street to ride the rides, eat the cotton candy and popcorn and try my hand at the many games of chance that were smashed inside the space that was allowed for carnival goers.  My friends and I were caught up in the fun and "innocence" of the carnival when one of my friends screamed that there was a man with a gun trying to steal money from the vendors.  As my child's eyes scanned the area to see what she was talking about, my heart stopped. There, only feet away from me, was my father, gun drawn, in hot pursuit of the would be robber.  I had never witnessed my father in pursuit of a criminal.  I had seen him in uniform leaving for work.  But, I had never seen him in a confrontation with evil.  Yet, evil unmasked was running through the "party" threatening to erupt in a tragedy right before my child's eyes. Evil knows no boundaries and mocks what we hold sacred and dear.

What stopped my heart was the realization that my father was doing a dangerous job that could take his life, right in front of his children, for we were all attending the carnival and I'm sure he realized that.  A young man, well built and six feet tall, what I saw as I watched him that night I had never seen before. Fear for his life was stamped across his face. His heart was racing, he was sweating profusely, and he was shaking. His life was on the line and he knew it.  So did I.  I will never forget that sight. The man I knew and adored as my father was on the firing line of someone who would take his life in the blink of an eye.  

Why did he take those risks then and why do police officers do it today?  Pastor Ed Young, speaking at the funeral of Deputy Goforth, talked about Jesus delivering us from evil.  Describing the cloak that Jesus wore as blue, not red, he said that the priests of the Old Testament wore blue as a symbol of their call to stand against evil.  Comparing the thousands of police officers in attendance at Officer Goforth's funeral to Jesus, he said, they have been called and sent forth to stand against - to "deliver" us from evil.  

There is indeed a thin blue line that separates the good and the evil in society. Deputy Goforth was one of those who stood between you and me and the evil that is out there, which, mercifully, we seldom encounter.  That night, many years ago at the carnival, I watched my own father stand between the children and party goers and the evil that visited itself upon us that evening. As God allowed, my father gained the victory that night and went on for many years after that. Tragically, for Kathleen Goforth and her two young children, her husband did not survive his encounter with evil. May God be their refuge and their strength as they go on to live their lives without the man they knew and loved as husband and father.  Please pray for this family and for our country.  

Our Father, who art in heaven
Hallowed be thy name,
Thy Kingdom come, 
Thy will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day
Our daily bread
And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive those who trespass against us.
For Thine is the Kingdom
and the Power
and the Glory

Note:  Written in memorial to Houston Deputy, Darren Goforth, as well as a tribute to the many good men and women who risk their lives to serve and protect us every day.  God bless you all.