Friday, July 29, 2005

Life's Greatest Challenge

I have met a man who walked on the moon.

I have talked to people who climbed Mt. Everest.

I have seen Presidents and Vice Presidents.

I have talked with Governors and Senators and once conversed with the Speaker of the House.

On many occasions I have seen Billy Graham speak in public.

I've had dinner with millionaires, known authors of best sellers, and enjoyed the company of CEOs of major corporations.

But of all the challenges that face the human soul, the most difficult is what I do each day as I try to raise a man.

I love my son and I am always grateful that he and I have such a great relationship. I believe he is a good boy, and that he will make a fine man.

But like any teenager, he walks on the edge of manhood and can easily fall prey to foolishness. Some falls are fatal. Some are not.

When I saw Fred today at the church, I asked him how he was doing. "I've never had a bad day," he said, using his traditional reply.

Today, I came close to having a bad day.

A very bad day.

A woman came to the door at about 4:00 this afternoon. She introduced herself as Donna.

Apparently my son and two other boys had taken her husband's bag at the neighborhood pool, which had several items, including his Federal Marshall's badge and gun.

So my son had stolen someone else's property, and of all things, he had to steal something from a Federal Marshall.

I paged my son and immediately went to the pool, where I easily found him. He came to me and I asked him what was happening. He told me, in a very forthcoming manner, what he'd done. Several others gathered around, and Donna drove up at about this time. My son admitted taking the bag. He said he thought it belonged to one of his buddies, Chris. When they looked in the bag, they discovered the badge and the gun.

My son tried to give it to the front desk at the neighborhood pool, but they were afraid to get involved.

He tried to give it to a neighborhood security guard. He refused to take the bag, and suggested that my son put it in a US Mail Box.

This is Miami -- it's not quite like the rest of the country. The police here are not quite like they are in the rest of the country. Anywhere else the security guard would have taken care of the matter and taken the bag to return to the officer. Here, the guard was afraid of the cop -- mainly because the cop was one of several law enforcement people gathered around the pool for a birthday party. They were all a bit drunk.

My son returned to Donna all of the property, which was in the car -- except for the gun and the badge. She agreed not to press charges if we retrieved the gun and badge -- so off we were to the Post Office. As we arrived we found a man emptying the contents of the mail box. God was with us! The postal worker allowed us to take the bag with the gun and the badge after Donna showed him her ID.

When we returned to the pool, her husband and several other cops were there. As I said, they were all a bit on the drunk side -- some more than others.

I'm not sure how, but suddenly my son was in the back of a Miami Dade police car.

"He will be arrested," the officer said.

"We were told no charges would be filed," I said. "That is one of the reasons my son was so forthcoming with the information."

"He committed a crime."

"How can we handle this among ourselves."

"I want to press charges," said James, the Federal Marshall, who had stepped up while we were at the car.

"Is there anything we can do to avoid this," I asked.

"$500," James said.

I had it in the trunk of my car, under the spare tire.

It's a small price to pay for your son.

In any other town, a drunk cop leaving a gun where children could get to it would have cost the man his job -- in Miami, he walks away with a few extra bucks in his pocket.

At church earlier today, Fred has said that he has never had a bad day.

I almost had one today.

But at the end of the day, my son is at home. We are safe. And the terrible things that almost happened, did not.

God has been good to us today.

My son, like any young person, walks on the edge of manhood and can easily fall prey to foolishness. Some falls are fatal. Some are not.

Today's fall was not fatal.

Indeed, God has been good to us today.


Blogger Howie Luvzus said...

Wow! Scary stuff. I'm glad it didn't go worse than it did. I'll pass this on to my boys. I used to be at PCUSA church when I was at a Baptist seminary. Great folks! I miss the church terribly.



10:33 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

I have teenagers, 4 of them, and my heart stops every time the phone rings. I'm glad it all worked out in the end. It's too bad the Federal Marshall was such a lousy example to your son but thank God he has you to balance that out. Indeed, God was with you.

12:21 PM  
Blogger Quotidian Grace said...

The behavior of the federal marshall is appalling and criminal. Asking for a bribe to not file charges? It is a terrible example for your son and his friends (who no doubt will hear about it). It is scary how easily a youngster can get into serious trouble. Good for you for being on top of the situation.

3:10 PM  
Blogger cheesehead said...

Unbelievable. Something tells me this is not the first time this marshall has made terrible choices!

You did the best you could under the circumstances. When our children are in real danger, something ultra-protective takes over and we do what may not seem like the right thing under other, less-crazy circumstances. You did the right thing.

8:55 AM  
Blogger the reverend mommy said...


that's all I can say.


12:28 PM  
Blogger St. Casserole said...

Good Lord! I'm so sorry you had to deal with a corrupt federal employee to protect your son. What a mess. I'm glad your boy is ok.

7:37 AM  
Blogger Maryellen said...

some falls are fatal, some are not.
my dear boy's fall was. he's not dead, death wouldn't be as bad. he's still a believer, a man of faith, but his fall was fatal none the less. blessings on you and your son.

8:55 AM  
Blogger Jack said...

I pray that James' repents of requesting and accepting a bribe and returns the money to its rightful owner. Father God, please soften his heart, show him the error of his ways, and give him a spirit of guilt and desire for repentance. Father God, please show Him the way to Your Son, Jesus, and the forgiveness that He bought for us on Calvary's cross. Thank You for Jesus, Father, and help us to bring others to Him so that they may accept Your Grace.

11:02 PM  
Anonymous will spotts said...

That's just wrong on so many levels.

Glad it wasn't worse for your son.

10:11 PM  

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