Friday, May 2, 2014

Handcuffs and Gossip

Recently I got that midnight call no mother wants to receive. As soon as you hear the phone ring your alarm in your heart goes off. You begin counting kids and who is home and who isn't. For us we still have one at home, our son. In raising five children those midnight phone calls are almost expected. You count your blessings when you don't receive them, but when you do, you still count your blessings that God is there to get you through. 

On this night the call came from my son. As soon as I answered, I could hear his cry on the other end as he said, "Mom, I need you. I'm being arrested." My son was terrified. As you can imagine my heart was breaking. I was home alone. My husband was on his way to Chicago. In my dark room I felt my knees begin to shake. I felt as though my stomach wasn't going to stay put. Tears came as just hearing my son's voice. 

But then something else happened. The next person I heard from was the officer. Yes, I would love to give this man an award for being such a gentleman and a kind and compassionate officer. My son was speeding. When he was pulled over the officer told him there was a warrant out for his arrest. My son had no idea. Let me back up a bit. Yes, I have a son who seems to have a lead foot. (Although that foot of his isn't so heavy anymore.) He had gotten a ticket and paid his ticket. Had his receipt from paying his ticket. Turns out that the secretary of the attorney's office was stealing money. She had taken my son's money, sent out a receipt, and didn't follow through with her job. She pocketed the money and there was my son being arrested. 

My son was near our home. Not too far away. The officer spoke so kindly to my son. He allowed my son to drive his car to the local gas station and park it there so it wasn't on the highway to get stolen. Yes, the officer allowed my son the privilege of driving his car about fifteen miles or so to the gas station. Now, remember I spoke with the officer on the phone. He shared with me, "Ma'am, your son is okay. We will take care of him." Although I heard his words, my entire body was still shaking. 

He shared with me what bail would be. Since my husband was out on the road I knew I didn't have that much cash. I called our youngest daughter. Again, when you get a late night phone call you know it's not a something as to just say, "Hi, just wanted to say, I love ya." My daughter seen it was me on the phone and picked up immediately. Of course, she was thinking the worst. So, when I had finally gotten the words out that her brother had been arrested she was relieved. (With having two sons-in-law who are officers I knew my daughters would know what to do.) She said, "Mom, calm down. I will take care of everything." I knew she would. Our daughter is such a strong and confident woman. I'm so proud to call her my daughter. 

So, my son parked his car at the local gas station and my daughter was on her way to meet him at the county jail. My son sat in the front seat of the officer's car. He treated my son with such kindness. They shared conversation in that front seat. Once at the jail, the officer told my son that he was sorry, but he would have to handcuff him as they walked into the station or he would lose his job. 

As they entered, my son looked around and was seated by men who were there for much different reasons. The officers in the station kidded with my son. They treated him as if he were a person. I can tell you they treated him much different than those who would later hear this news. As soon as he was in the building the cuffs came off. He was probably there for maybe thirty minutes. His photo was taken. He wasn't fingerprinted or put in a cell. My daughter was there to meet him with bail. They left together and my son had a long drive home with a huge life lesson he would carry with him for years to come. 

I can tell you that this momma cried. I was on my knees before the Lord begging that He keep His protective hand upon my son. I prayed my son home. It was late when he finally arrived home. We hugged and went to bed. We would talk when morning came. 

My son shared with me the entire story. It would be later that we would find out that the secretary had stolen the money meant to pay for my son's ticket. I am in no way dismissing my son's actions. He shouldn't have been speeding. Praise Jesus, it was that officer that pulled over my son. He treated my son as if he were his own child.

God knew what would occur on this night. He was already busy orchestrating the entire evening putting everyone in their perfect place. He happened to be right inside our county lines. He happened to have the officer who shown great kindness. My daughter just happened to be home and not away at a business meeting. Everything that happened that night flowed perfectly with God's protective and mighty hand. This was a night my son would never forget and one that his mother would learn from. Sometimes it's those hardest lessons in life that bring us to where the Lord wants us to be.  

My son has learned a great many lessons over the past few years. He has learned that each choice has a consequence. But sadly, he too has learned that judgement and gossip make for some heart lessons that are difficult to heal. 

Here in our county there is an app for cell phones that allows you to see those who have been arrested. Yes, my son's photo and information could be seen on that app. Judgement came before he could explain. Gossip began without the entire story being known. 

As my son was shopping for me he came across a couple we had attended church with. The first thing he hears is, "So, we heard you went to jail." What a way to begin a conversation. See, the thing is, this young lady had actually spend many months in jail for a crime. But somehow her actions were forgotten and it was now easy to pass judgement on another. My son didn't bother with sharing the details of his night. There was no need. Judgement had already been passed and gossip still continued. 

Why is it that we do such things? We forget that we too are sinners. We forget that each of us have a past. Not too long after all of this took place I was looking out our window and there in our driveway were two police officers with two young men pulled over. I watched as they searched them and their vehicle. I caught myself judging these two young men has handcuffs were put on one of them and the other was allowed to drive off. I heard the Lord whisper, "You don't know. Just pray for these young men." I was immediately convicted. But this is what we do, isn't it? We quickly judge. We don't even care to know the story behind the cuffs. We just take what we know and run with it. 

Now as I even see someone pulled over by an officer on the side of the road I am very cautious to pass judgement. There is a story there. What could I do as I pass by? I could simply pray. God knows the situation and isn't that really all that matters? I don't have to know what's going to pray for the young man or woman.

We never know the heart of another. One thing I do know for sure is that God has a plan. He uses in everything in our lives to bring us closer to Him. As our son's parents we didn't condemn him. We were not happy that he had gotten yet another ticket, but this was a valuable life lesson for him. God used this night to bring about many things that would turn his life around. Friends, we must remember the sweet grace of God is greater than all of our sin. How we treat others impacts life greatly. Might we think about how we would like to be treated before we quickly come to judgement for another human being. 

See, some of our mistakes are hidden within our homes. No one sees our sin. But there are other times our mistakes are seen by others. Our sin is wide open for all to see. You know what that young couple could have done when they seen my son? They could have simply said, "Hey, how ya doing?" Isn't it always better to give encouragement than to tear a person down? What took place in their conversation impacted my son on a great level. To his thinking, he was simply no good. He was the kid who made a mistake and now everyone seen him as just that. See, they didn't see the good that he had done that week. They didn't know the heart of my son or what he had learned. They didn't seem to care. They just wanted him to know they knew he went to jail. But for that young woman, I would have liked to know how she feels about being forgiven of her time spent in jail. Yes, she could have easily offered my son great encouragement. But instead of encouragement or a kind word, my son received judgement in the form of, "We know what you did". 

Might we remember the next time we see one who is being pulled over or whatever the circumstance may be that we do not come to assume we know what's taking place. May we not give judgement, but live to encourage and inspire with the love of Christ. Encouragement before condemnation. And always, always, sweet grace.

"The law came along to multiply the trespass. But where sin multiplied, grace multiplied even more so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace will reign through righteousness, resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." Romans 5:20-21

"Do not judge, so that you won't be judged. For with the judgement you use, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye but don't notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' and look, there's a log in your eye? Hypocrite! First take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye." Matthew 7:1-5

"Don't criticize one another, brothers. He who criticizes a brother or judges his brother criticizes the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is one lawgiver and judge who is able to save and to destroy. but who are you to judge your neighbor?" James 4:11-12

"Therefore, any one of you who judges is without excuse. For when you judge another, you condemn yourself, since you, the judge, do the same things. We know that God's judgement on those who do such things is based on the truth. Do you really think-anyone of you who judges those who do such things yet do the same-that you will escape God's judgement?" Romans 2:1-3

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