Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. – Romans 12.15 (NASB)
This won’t be easy. Logging on to facebook this morning, I read a post that made my heart sink. ” You and your family are in our thoughts and prayers.” It was written by my mom on the wall of one of our longtime family friends. I didn’t know for sure what led to this post, but I was afraid. My thoughts immediately turned to my friend’s dad. He was a former pastor, around my parents age. Had he passed away? I almost hoped so, because I knew enough of the story to fear it might be something worse for the family to endure. I did a quick search, and my heart sank as my fears were realized. Her dad had been arrested.
Tears kept welling up in my eyes as I read the sordid details of the accusations. Murder. Staging an accident as a cover up. Lying to police. Could this man that I had known pretty well many years ago really do what the authorities think he did? My heart broke for my friend and her family. I grew up playing with her and her brother (and their older sister, to a lesser extent) at camp every summer. Her dad is accused of inflicting the wounds which led to the death of his second wife. The DA in Lebanon has announced that he has reopened the investigation into the death of his first wife. No one I knew thought much of it at the time, other than that it was a shame she had died relatively young.
How do you process that your dad is accused of having killed your step-mother two years ago, and might be accused of killing your mother eleven years ago? I cannot fathom the pain, the uncertainty, the brokenness that they must be feeling. I can only pray.
For him. Whatever the truth, he is certainly a hurting, broken man right now. We all make mistakes, and I’m sure he’s made his share, regardless of the truth of these claims. I pray that he is right with God, and can have peace through this. May he lean on God for strength to face this trial, and the consequences of his actions, if the accusations are true.
For my friend and all of her family. How do you process this?! How do you explain to young kids why their grandfather won’t be able to see them for a while, or why they have to go to the jail to see him? How do you process the reopening of the wound of having lost your mother, as investigators probe, and ask the same questions again? All of this has now become a very public problem. Since her last name is different, her kids may be spared some, but surely many people know the relation, and she (and her whole family) will hear the questions over and over. I’m sure it is nice to know you are loved and supported by the prayers of those around you, but sometimes you just want time alone to process, and to be able to go out without feeling like everyone is giving you attention you never wanted or asked for.
For the people in the churches he used to pastor. Those who didn’t like him will now say “I told you so.” Those who loved him now question if they really knew him. Those of us who heard him preach, and were in the camp choir that he and his first wife led have to process the picture of the man we knew. Some have come out and called him a “ladies’ man”, or worse, a womanizer. Many, mostly voiceless, deal with the thought that someone they knew, trusted, and learned from may have been hiding secret issues that he didn’t let anyone know about.
For me. I pray for myself as I process this. This man is innocent until proven guilty. I hope that he is innocent, and the courts find this out. If not, I pray that I will not be so foolish as to think myself better than him. He is human, and if he is guilty, it simply means that he fell more visibly than I, and in different ways than I may be tempted to fall. I face temptations every day, and don’t always do as well as I would like. As the saying goes, “There, but for the grace of God, go I.” I pray that I will never allow myself to stray so far from God as he is accused of, and that I will never put my family through the kind of ordeal that his family now has in store. I also pray that I would be a support to my friend and her family, in any way possible, though I confess it is hard to fathom what I can do to help, other than pray. Only God can help the family through times like these.
Tonight I will hug the kids a little closer. I will be humbled to remember that how I act can affect so many, even if I think no one will find out. I will also pray that this family can be restored to wholeness through Christ.
This was tough to write, and with a broken heart and tear-filled eyes I end as I began, with Scripture:
25But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.
26In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words;
27and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
– Romans 8.25-27