I remember when I was a child we lived right up the hill from a ditch…The ditch. My grandmother always told me to stay away from that ditch, or I would fall in. Well, being the full-blooded American youth growing up in the 1960’s South, you might well imagine that I took that admonishment to heart.
Well, it was not so different from when I began my career in law enforcement and continuing my walk with the Lord. As an ordained minister, I was always aware of my reputation: What we call a testimony in the church, and the effect it would have if I failed. The key was to not play around the edges of trouble. There were many times when I had to walk that thin line of not giving into the impulse of anger or just plain dislike, but I knew I was being watched; watched by not only my fellow officers and staff, but watched by the Lord.
This reminds me of one morning in particular. My oldest son was two years old, and I had just kissed both him and my wife good-bye for the day. I made my way to briefing, and as I sat there, the duty sergeant gave us the details of our day’s assignments. Mine? I was tasked with watching an inmate that had been booked in overnight and was currently on suicide watch. What was so hard about that you might ask? Well, this particular inmate had killed his two-year-old nephew after molesting him and then partially decapitating the small body and hiding him in a trash bag. As the sergeant gave me instructions to watch this man, to guard him, to make sure he didn’t kill himself, I wonder aloud, “Why should I stop him?”
Immediately I knew I was wrong. The sergeant stopped, looked up and said to me, “Because you are one of the few people here that I can trust to do it.” As the team filed out, I sat there for a moment and talked to the Lord about it. I made my peace with the fact that I was not to be his judge, but rather his jailer. I was not to be his jury, but rather his guard. I had looked down and found that I had been standing near the edge of that “ditch.”
This is what it was like to work in the jail and walk with the Lord. At times, I did it quite well and soared over trials. At other times, I had to fight through…and sometimes I failed. But then again it’s kind like Grand-Ma said, “If you play around the edge of that ditch, you gonna fall in.” I did. You want to know something else? Ditch mud really stinks….Just saying.