Emotion and writing is such a volatile mixture.
Succumb fully to emotion and writing becomes ranting; squelch all emotion and writing becomes a barren desert devoid of life. But deadlines are what they are, and do not bend to give a writer time to balance himself. And thus it is, with a prayer for God himself to balance me that I again put pen to paper.
Officer Tim Brackeen was a great guy. A friend. No, not someone I had the privilege of talking to regularly, but a friend nonetheless. We used to go to the same church until I started Cornerstone. He was also a great officer. I had the opportunity to see him at his job many times through the years, and I never saw him without seeing a smile on his face while he joyfully served his community under all circumstances.
It was just a couple of years ago, I guess, that I saw him on the road, doing his job. It was a cold night and a driving rain, and yet he was out there, smiling, soaking wet, helping others, doing a job few others would be willing to do.
He is gone now. He had his life taken while on duty. Most of America knows about this; it has been on the national news, on Facebook, on Twitter, everywhere.
I woke up this morning, as I write this and as I scrolled Twitter, I quickly came across a video of three officers at a gas station in Arizona. A man intentionally slammed his car into them, trying to murder them. It was unprovoked; they were targeted because of a color: blue.
This keeps on happening. The five Dallas officers killed by a sniper. Three in Louisiana gunned down. A detention officer stabbed to death in Holman Correctional Facility in Alabama.
It has to stop.
Ezekiel Chapter 22 repeatedly speaks of the violence and bloodshed, crime and corruption in the land. Then verse 30 says, “And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land …”
This is exactly what officers do. White men and women, black men and women, men and women of every other race and skin color, put all of that on the back burner as they take on one color for all: blue. They stand in the gap between rapists and the women they stalk for their evil purposes.
They stand in the gap between pedophiles and the children they hunger for in their twisted desires. They stand in the gap between homeowners and those who would kick their doors down and steal everything they have worked so hard for. They stand in the gap between the store owner trying to make a living, and the punk who would put a gun to his head and snuff out his life for a few dollars from the till.
What do officers do? They stand in the gap between pushers and those who would snare our children and wreck precious lives with their poison. They stand in the gap between the reckless driver and the person who does not see him coming. They stand in the gap between gangs and the communities they terrorize. They stand in the gap … just fill in the blank. I could go on forever and never exhaust the list. What they ultimately do, just as in Ezekiel 22, is stand between us and God’s judgment. They stem the tide of evil, and therefore help stay the hand of a holy God.
Back the blue. Teach your children to respect them. Be an online warrior for them; whenever anyone posts hate for them on social media or the comments to a news story, answer on their behalf. If you hear of someone targeting them, warn them. That one simple act may allow officers to take off the uniform in safety that night before they kiss their children goodnight.
Do right. If you refrain from crime, you will find out they can be some of the most pleasant people around. If you do wrong and they come for you, plead your case in court with a lawyer, not on the streets with a gun or car or knife.
Get to know them. Pray for them by name. Pastors of all races and creeds and political affiliations, teach your people how to respond to any grievances peacefully. You wield the power of the pulpit; use it. They stand in the gap for you, do so for them.
One last word, this time to those who regard police as “the enemy.” Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.” Have you tried that?
Love them, genuinely. Back the blue.
Bo Wagner is pastor of the Cornerstone Baptist Church of Mooresboro, N.C., a widely traveled evangelist, and the author of several books. Dr. Wagner can be contacted by email at [email protected]