Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Gale Stauffer, Thank You.



My friend's husband died yesterday. He was a police officer. He was shot and killed a few blocks from my house. I heard the sirens. I stood at my window, watching for who knows what, thinking about what might be happening out there.

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 
we elevate 
their deaths. 


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.

30 comments:

  1. So very well said. I live with this fear every day and always have. My husband is a county sheriff. I have 2 sons that are both law enforcement officers . My father is retired law enforcement and my grandfather was a town marshall. Thank you for the insightful explaination. May God give you and your friend comfort.

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    Replies
    1. You're welcome. I'm praying safety over you and yours this holiday season.

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  2. Thank you for sharing this Heather... Praying for Gale's family!

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  3. Beautifully put! Thank you Heather!

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  4. "...Jesus with skin on". Thanks for your thoughtful voice, Heather.

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  5. Thank you. Very well said. Thank you every LEO. Prayers for safety.

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  6. Thanks for sharing such a beautiful point. Well done.

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  7. just BEAUTIFUL and so True!!

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  8. As a Corporal on Patrol with the local Sheriff's Office, I say thank you. However, we are far from Jesus. He was perfect in every way. We are just men (or women) fulfilling a calling on our lives.

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    1. No, no one is perfect, but we're all called, as you said. And when we follow that calling, we look a lot like Jesus. Thank you so much.

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  9. We as a Law Enforcement community thank you for answering a statement we stay silent on. To me its a bigger statement coming from a normal citizen on why we mourn the death of an officer in the way we do. Thank you

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    Replies
    1. And you shouldn't have to answer that statement. You defend us all the time. Sometimes, we get to defend you.

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  10. Oh Heather, what a beautiful explanation. Praying for your friend's loved ones and your community.

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  11. I dont know you Heather but id like to meet you and thank you personally for your words and wisdom. You have taught me a humble lesson.
    I am Stauffer's sergeant and you have honoured him.
    SGT J. Moses

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    Replies
    1. Possibly, we'll meet sometime. I've been to the Sheriff's office recently and will probably be back. Investigator Schaefer has been a real help in my research for a book I am writing. Thank you for this kind comment. I'm humbled by how many have read this post. It has quickly surpassed everything else on my website.

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  12. Unfortunately our 1st world priorities are so self centered, many do not comprehend a Servant heart. Correctly said in a
    previous reply Jesus was the only perfect man, but His love and compassion has always been manifested through imperfect men and women. Wonderfully written, Heather.

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  13. How well put this response was. It says what many of us could not find the words for. Thank you Heather.

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  14. "[Law enforcement officers] 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."

    Very well put. There have been so many calloused responses about this shooting on other websites. This is very refreshing to read, and, HOPEFULLY, it will offer a semblance of peace to his family. That's the first time I've ever heard it put that way. The procession today was a surreal experience standing on the street corner watching all of the supporters and LEO's in attendance. Godspeed to all of them. Thank you for your insightful words.

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    Replies
    1. Sadly, free speech means people get to say mean and stupid things. :(

      I'm glad you got to be present. My husband and I were not able to attend, and I have been looking at photos this evening.

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