Later, I stood at the command center where the Sheriff's Department and the FBI and the Highway Patrol and, I believe, some US Marshalls, were gathering. The huge FBI bus was parked outside. A friend and I were arranging food and opening doors and just trying to offer hospitality to these men who had lost one of their own and were still there, doing their best to keep us safe.
I opened Twitter while leaning on a wall during a quiet moment. A friend had tweeted, asking a question that made me angry. At first. It made me angry, but it also made me think. All evening, I thought about it. All night, I thought about it. This morning, my answer hit me hard with the words of Scripture.
The question was, paraphrased: why do we elevate the death of an officer over that of a civilian?
My gut response was, as I said, anger. Gale*, my friend's husband, died defending my neighborhood. I could almost see his last stand from my upstairs window.
My gut response was correct, but I had to let the emotion ease off before I could coherently express what I meant by that… how that relates to all officers, not just this one who died so near my home. Is an officer's life more important than someone else's?
And there it is.
Everyday, when a police officer puts on that uniform and slides behind the wheel of that car, they make a decision. They consciously decide that MY life is more important than theirs. They rush to respond to tragedy and fear, because they believe YOUR life is more important than their own.
And that is why
The first shall be last and the last shall be first.
Everyday, Gale Stauffer decided to be last so we could be first. And he died for us.
That sounds a bit familiar to me. Wasn't there another man who thought His own life less important than ours?
We elevate them in death, because they humbled themselves in life.
And that, my Twitter friend, is Jesus with skin on.
So the last will be first, and the first will be last. (Matthew 20:16)
For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted. (Matthew 23:12)
When he noticed how the guests picked the places of honor at the table, he told them this parable: “When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, ‘Give this person your seat.’ Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place. But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all the other guests. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” (Luke 14:7-14)
*Another officer was injured and is in critical condition. I do not know his name, but we are praying for he and his family. Thank you also, sir. Thank you.