I admit I have been frustrated and downright angry about things happening in our world, our nation and very recently in my own city. Frustrated at the news media both local and national for the one sided and very slanted way they report incidents involving Law Enforcement Officers and black males. It appears they report one side of the facts, but are not reporting the whole story. I am guessing they do this for ratings or maybe they are just reporting the only facts they have at the time. My question is, do they know this one-sided type of reporting only adds to the racial tension in our communities across America? Do they see their part in helping to spread more racial tension and hate? Just this week a tragedy happened in my city. My first emotional response was anger and I got caught up.
This very sad and unfortunate incident has created more tension between Law Enforcement and in that community. Apparently, there have been threats made against the officer; although, not sure these have been confirmed. It just seems to me that there is an all out war on LEO’s across our nation. That just makes me angry! There is such a lack of respect for our men and women in Blue. I have never seen such arrogant, above the law attitudes; that seems to be spreading like a cancer in our country. I am frustrated mainly, because I just do not understand this mentality. I was raised to respect the badge. I was taught to respect Law Enforcement Officers. They have sworn to serve and protect our streets and to keep us safe from criminals. Might I just add that they don’t do it for the money! They are underpaid, overworked and underappreciated! When an officer of the Law tells you to stop, you should STOP! Not run, not try to evade arrest, not to fight them, not pull a gun on the officer but just STOP!
Ok! Enough of my ranting about my anger. Let me move on to why I believe anger can and does move us to action.
When the news of this shooting was reported; my first response was not grief but anger. During the first news report, there was a pastor from that community who said to the reporter, “Even I am afraid to walk down the street, because of the color of my skin.” Honestly, I thought to my common sense self; If I had been that reporter, I would have asked him to explain that statement. I would have wanted to ask him; So, are you telling me that you make it a habit of breaking the law? Do you make it a habit of running from LEOs when they tell you to stop? Do you have any outstanding warrants? Are you on probation and carrying a firearm? Are you suspected of selling drugs on our streets? I thought to myself, Why would he stir up this type of hate using the race thing again? I got caught up in the anger.
The next day, my anger began to bother me. I am a Christian, a follower and disciple of Jesus Christ. Why was my first response anger instead of grief? The anger didn’t come from a place of racism or hate toward this community. We live in an angry and every increasingly hostile environment. The tension is so thick at times, “you can cut it with a knife.” Most people are angry about something. Everyone is offended by some group. Every group wants their “rights” while at the same time denying others theirs. We live in an angry world. So, once again, I asked myself; As a follower of Jesus Christ how am I supposed to react? Why is this affecting me so deeply? I can’t change anything; so the frustration at times just builds up. The problems in our culture are of such a massive scale how can one person make any difference that will stick?
God used the anger to move me to action! I was reminded of something I heard floating around back when I was in prison ministry with a group from my community. It was that some states use 3rd grade reading levels to help project how many beds will be needed for future prisons. That is not a quote because I am not sure it is accurate. I remember that it broke my heart. I asked myself what can I do to help? As has become true to scripture, “if you ask you will receive”; that year I began going into a local elementary school to volunteer to just listen to children read. I just showed up, listened and helped coach them to become more effective readers. It is a fact that if a child can read well then they can begin to think critically. Good readers usually have better grades. If you can read well other subjects aren’t quite as hard to navigate. Reading opens up the door for success and opportunities. If a child can succeed in school maybe that little boy or girl will not become a prison statistic. The most important reason it affected me personally was because I know if a child or adult can read, they can read God’s word and hopefully their life will be transformed from the inside out. My experience there was short lived due to distance and life circumstances; but I so thankful that the Lord reminded me of it this week.
My anger subsided and a deep sadness took over, that grief for another life lost. I thought about that 24 year old man, how he was once an innocent little boy. A child, who was and is loved by his mother and his family and friends. You can bet he had dreams and desires just like all children do. I don’t pretend to know anything about this man. He could have been a straight A student for all I know. All I know is, at that moment my anger turned to compassion. What if one person would have stepped into his life and helped him navigate his way through this twisted, mixed up, angry world we live in. What if one man had stepped up and mentored him? What if one person invested time into his life to show him his value and his worth in the eyes of His Maker. Maybe, he would have chosen another path. Maybe, he wouldn’t have ended up running from the cops. Maybe, he would have been running on a Cross Country team in college or making his way to the Olympics. Maybe, he would be running down a football field making the winning touch down in college and headed to a professional league. Maybe, even running in the race to possibly become the next President of the United States of America. What if one person would have looked deeper than just the color of his skin, or deeper than his culture or his environment? Maybe, one person could have made a lasting difference in his life.
My anger moved me to action! It was used to help me stop venting and start thinking more critically and more compassionately. The anger caused me to stop, step back and seriously seek the Lord by praying and searching my own heart. Anger gets a bad rap but it is an emotion given to us by our Creator for a reason. It is not always a bad thing. The emotion of anger has caused men and woman throughout the ages of time to stand up and make a difference. The anger I was experiencing helped me to ask myself some very real questions. Instead of joining in on the ranting and venting, how can I be part of the solution and stop being part of the problem? Am I willing to be One as Anne Graham Lotz just spoke about in her teaching on Daniel 9 One who will really PRAY for my country to turn back to God Almighty? Will I take a step of faith and do something to make a difference in my own back yard? Will I choose to be the change I want so desperately to see in my world?
My answer to all those questions is an unequivocally YES! God has given me a ministry to do. I have been chosen, called, consecrated and commissioned to be a minister of reconciliation. To truly be one who desires to see TRUE reconciliation instead of feeding the already stirred up hatred in this world around me. It may be something as small as listening to some elementary students read. Investing that little bit of time into someone else’s future. Praying they will do great things even on a small scale. What will you choose to do about this crisis in your own community? Will you allow the anger and frustration to push you to your knees? Will you choose to be part of the solution or continue to spread hate and division?
I am aware and thankful for the many ministries and many people out there that have been doing their part to make a difference in their communities, churches and in our world. I realize I am only one but I truly believe that the answer is in The One and Only Jesus Christ!
One life surrendered to The One and Only Jesus Christ to be used as a minister of reconciliation, in whatever way He sees fit; can make a difference in one life. One life at at time!