A Moment of Distress

We have heard so many stories about police brutality and the need for reform in recent weeks. George Floyd’s death triggered a firestorm of events that have revealed the continued evil of racism in this country, and there has been a call for justice. Our country will never be the same.
Let me be clear. We must all look in the mirror and own up to any racism (known or hidden) in our lives. We need to use this unique time to repent and change any behavior that does not glorify God. We are called to love everyone, even if we do not agree with their race, gender, or lifestyle choices.

We must not stereotype or vilify everyone in a single profession. There are good and bad in all communities and work forces. In particular, I advocate for our police officers, sheriffs, and all those in law enforcement who are neither mean, ill-willed, nor embittered. This would be the vast majority. I continue to respect them and the intense pressure they work under.

Just last Wednesday, I rode my bike to my office in Shalimar for a ZOOM meeting. I meandered around the streets to increase my mileage on such a gorgeous morning. As I approached Shalimar Bridge, it had been an almost perfect bike ride. I entered the nar-row bike lane with caution and peddled across. It was around 7:18 am and I had plenty of time to get to my meeting. I picked up speed on the downhill crest of the bridge and my thoughts were on the busy Eglin BLVD traffic and making my way to safety away from the northbound cars.

Suddenly, everything changed! I crashed into a curb while still going 20mph. I quickly fell over the bike smashing onto the sidewalk and rolled on my side. On my way down, I thought to myself, “do not hit your head like Brad Bradford!”

Never in my life have I felt an impact like that-not even in my football days! I laid on the sidewalk in a daze but still determined to make my ZOOM meeting. I looked up and a police officer had pulled over and turned his lights on. He immediately said, “Sir you do not look right.”

Reflexively, I told him I was okay and just needed to get back on my bike and pedal the remaining two blocks to my office. I tried to get up and briefly passed out. The officer repeated, “Sir you are not alright! Let me call the para-medics.” At the same time, he was checking my head and hair for injuries with a great tenderness as if we were close friends.

I continued to plead with him that I was OK and attempted to get up a second time only to fall to the ground again. A third time I said, “I’m alright. I just need to go over there,” pointing toward the church. I tried to get up and passed out again! The officer had already loaded my bike in his SUV anyway. He called the paramedics and they came to tend to me.

The paramedics recommended I go by ambulance to the ER and I refused. I do not know why I am so stubborn! But do you know what the officer did? He took me to his vehicle and gave me a ride to my office. As bloody and sweaty as I was, he said to me “I want you to sit up front!” He knew I was a pastor, and it would be bad publicity to have me sit in the back. I began the short ride to my office where Karen was waiting to take me to the ER.

This police officer was one the kindest and most merciful servants I have ever met. His name is Lt. Carlos Jones of the Shalimar Police Department. He is also African American, and I am still white except for my bruises, scrapes, and strawberries! Lt. Jones did not have to go to any of the trouble he did. I was reminded of the parable of the Good Samaritan. He could have passed right on by.
In a nation calling for major reform due to police brutality, I feel compelled to raise my voice for all the police officers who not only do their job but do it with mercy and excellence.
We all have a long way to go in ending racism in response to the senseless death of George Floyd. We all need to follow the teachings of Micah 6:8 “Act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with the Lord.”

The sensational news and commentary need to focus on the good stories across our nation too! On one beautiful June morning just last week, I saw a police officer shine and I just want to thank him and all those who serve well in this extraordinary time in our history! Be sure to thank a police officer soon. The majority of them risk their lives showing mercy to both unkind and stubborn people along their way each and every day!
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Philip McVay

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