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Running Toward Trouble

Our son in law, Robert Plaisted, is a Glendale police officer. He was in the station briefing room at 5:00 AM with other officers preparing for their morning shift last month when the Assistant Chief of Police and Battalion Chief unexpectedly came into the room. They stood before the assembled officers.

“Plaisted, surrender your weapon.” The chief commanded.

Robert was shocked by the order. He thought he was being fired. As he stood up to respond, the chief laughed and spoke again.

“Come up here, but keep your weapon.”

The chief and his command staff had come to give Robert a commendation. The previous week a call was put out on the police radio for an emergency in a Glendale home. Robert was patrolling nearby and the first on the scene. A woman had gone into cardiac arrest and was sprawled on her garage floor. Her daughter was kneeling beside her hysterical and unable to perform CPR. Robert began CPR, doing chest compression to keep the woman alive until the paramedics arrived. Ten minutes later they took over. Robert was told later he had saved the woman’s life.

Robert told the story to our family with this explanation about the responses from his fellow officers to emergencies. “This is not a big deal. When we get calls for emergencies, we race each other to see who can get there first to help the people out. This what we do. This is who we are.”

I received two calls last week about a family of four that was killed in an Arizona cabin by carbon monoxide poisoning. Jon Taylor had already reached out to Joe Capitano, whose son, daughter in-law and grandchildren had died. My other friend Dave was asking for prayer and wisdom for how to help the family as well. Jon and Dave had heavy hearts, but they ran toward the pain, not away from it.

There is nothing we can say that takes away the pain of tragedy, but showing up when those you love are suffering can make a big difference. We have never forgotten those who have run toward us when we have had trouble come our way. First responders in the Spirit are those who have the love of Christ—those in whom the Holy Spirit, who is called the Comforter, dwells. People do not need simplistic answers, which are futile attempts to wipe away their pain, when they are grieving. Grieving people need friends who will show up to weep with them, and pray for them, so that one day, hope and joy will rise in their hearts again.

When Joshua and Caleb saw giants in the land of Canaan, they didn’t know how they would defeat them, but they believed God would enable them to be victorious. They counseled Moses not to withdraw, but to move forward and face the giants. Years later, young David, a shepherd boy, ran toward Goliath, not away from him, like his fellow Israelites.

We all face fearful giants who test our faith. Faith is not the absence of fear, or a clear understanding of how things will work out. Faith is an inner assurance that God will give us grace that will lead to victory over the challenges we face.

From a long distance, the prodigal son’s father saw his son returning home. He ran to embrace his wayward son. I’m proud to be associated with people who run to comfort and help those broken by sin and scarred by grief. The presence of the Holy Spirit gives us grace and love to comfort hurting people. Our God is the God of hope and encouragement.

We are not fools, but we take risks as the Lord leads us. There is no way to do effective ministry without becoming personally involved and vulnerable. When we put our lives on the line to serve the Lord, we demonstrate to the world that we believe in the God of the resurrection. The good news of Jesus Christ is revealed as truth when people see the power of God work through us to help others. Our job is to simply believe and obey the Spirit’s leading when the Lord puts opportunities before us.