A policeman was shot in a nearby town as he tried to apprehend a jewel thief. Daily, these men and women put their lives on the line in order to keep us and our personal property safe. As we are so close to the tenth anniversary of 9/11 I am reflecting on all the work that police officers, fire fighters, EMTs, and other first responders do for the sake of others. They put their lives in jeopardy, and in some cases lose their lives for the sake of others. In this way they are pictures of Jesus for us, daily reminders of people who give life to save others from death.
These men and women are also pictures of character as they are forced to make quick decisions that could mean life or death for others. The other police who came to the scene in Woburn, MA had to shoot the shooter, and then bring him in his wounded state to the hospital for help. A police officer rode in the ambulance with the bad guy. His job? To make sure the bad guy who just shot his fellow officer was safe. The man who rides along to keep the bad guy safe has to be a man of intense character and a person of wisdom. He could easily exact revenge on the criminal with his own hands, yet he maintains composure and acts according to the law with a sense of morality and duty.
In one moment a police officer does the right thing by shooting the criminal so that others will not be hurt. In the next moment an officer does the right thing by protecting the criminal from further harm. Within seconds these men and women have to be able to do the right thing at the right time. I think that’s a little of what Solomon means when he says that, “there is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3
At one moment it is right to harm, the next second we turn to heal. It takes wisdom to know what is the right time for the right action. Every day we face many similar decisions. Is it the right time to speak a harsh word of rebuke or ignore my child’s behavior? Is this the time to stand up for what’s mine, or lay down my life for my neighbor? When do I go along with my spouse and when do I take a stand? When do I keep fighting the disease with all I’ve got, and when do I make my good-byes? Each of these, and many more situations, call for wisdom. That is the kind of wisdom that comes from a relationship with Jesus. Solomon, the wisest guy around, said that all of his wisdom came from God. Proverbs 9:10
I pray that I may be a person of wisdom. I want to know the right time to do the right thing. To do this I’ll spend time with God daily, and surround myself with people who show such character in their own lives so that I might learn from them. I am glad to say that I know the officer who rode in the ambulance to help the bad guy. Tom Callahan is one such man who knows the right thing at the right time. He too is a picture of Jesus for us. He reserves judgment for the right time, and he offers healing for the one in need. He is the one who, while we were still sinners, died for us. (Romans 5:8) Jesus is the one who rescues us and keeps us safe from our sin even though we were his enemies. He does not come to enact vengeance, but mercy. And, he came at just the right time too. (Galatians 4:4-5)
Thanks Tom, and all the other men and women like you, who put their lives on the line and do so with great courage and character. May we all be a little more wise each day.