I was getting ready to officiate an outdoor wedding and the weather outside looked threatening. Perhaps this would let me know where the wedding ceremony would be; outside on a grassy hill that had decorations and seating all ready to go or inside under a pavilion where all of the tables were set up for the reception.
I picked up my phone to see what they were saying and noticed that instead, this was an “Amber Alert” informing me that a five year old girl had just been abducted, and gave a description of the child, the vehicle, and the would be abductor.
My heart sank in my stomach! I am the father of six adult children and five grandchildren.
One of my grandchildren is a little girl who is the same age.
I shared the information with Cathy, finished dressing, and said goodbye to her; she would be driving separately and meet me at the wedding.
On the freeway, I noticed a sign lit up with an Amber Alert communicating the same abduction. This time there was more information along with a photo of the little girl. And my heart began to become amber with anger.
I went to the wedding, performed the ceremony, ate a great meal, had a very good time, and went home. My mind had forgotten about the Amber Alert….and about the little girl.
When I came home, I heard on the news that they had found the little girl…and that she had been killed…and found in a swamp…and my heart sank deeper inside of me.
A few days later, the front of the newspaper came out with the story. A twenty-five year old man had taken the little girl against her and her family’s wishes. He was now sitting in jail facing charges for murder, kidnapping, theft of a motor vehicle, and sexual assault…of a five year old girl! This girl’s claim to fame was that she had been kidnapped, sexually assaulted, murdered, and buried in a swamp!
As I was turning the newspaper, another story caught my eye: a twenty nine year old man was facing first degree criminal sexual conduct and first degree assault for sexually molesting a 21 moth old child! And then hitting her; beating her up!
In time they would be forced to plan a funeral as they tried to make sense of this tragedy. In time they would be forced to ride a wave of emotions as they sat through the trial. This is not how this little girl was supposed to be remembered! This is not how this little girl’s life was supposed to be played out!
Proverbs 4:23 came to my mind in a variety of versions: “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.” (NKJV)
“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” (NLT)
“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” (NIV)
“Keep vigilant watch over your heart; that’s where life starts.” (MSG)
And Romans 12:19 & 21: “Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay, “says the Lord.”...“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good”.
So I prayed:
For the family of the little girl-I couldn’t imagine their pain…my heart weeps for them and their loss. Someone once told me that death of a child is like losing one of your arms: You have to learn to adjust to the loss but you NEVER get over it.
“And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:4 NKJV)
For the family of these two men who soon would have their lives dragged through the media as well. This is not how their children were to be remembered. No parent should have to go through watching their children’s faces on the news for sexually assaulting and murdering anyone, let alone an innocent child.
And for these two men; yes even them. I thought of them sitting in a jail, detained, wondering when someone would try to serve their own form of justice and take their lives. May God have mercy on their souls...