UPDATE: Lucas Calvert was found unharmed and James Calvert has been arrested.
Just like you, I have good days, so-so days, and days I wish I had never gotten out of bed. Today is one of those days that I just really don’t like this planet very much!
My day started off wonderfully with the a conversation with my sweet wife and the ride to take Caroline to school, both of which are almost always enjoyable experiences. Those were followed by a quick breakfast and a six month checkup at the doctor’s office. Most of my health issues are under control and surgery is planned for the ones that aren’t resolved, yet. After that, I came to work and had some very productive meetings.
Then, shortly after lunch, things went downhill.
If you haven’t heard, the ex-husband of a Tyler, Texas, woman allegedly shot and killed her and kidnapped the couple’s four year old son, of whom she had custody. Police immediately locked down a nearby school, where the couple’s other child was in class, and another East Texas school where another of the man’s children attends.
Here’s the Amber Alert information from the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children:
Kidnapping Victim: Lucas Calvert (4 years old)
2000 Buick Le Sabre
Silver and/or gray, 4 Door
Texas license plate #DP4G858
The Tyler Police Department is searching for LUCAS CALVERT, white, male, 4 years old, Date of Birth: 02262008, 3 feet tall, 30 – 40 pounds, brown hair, brown eyes, LAST SEEN WEARING: Long sleeve blue sweatshirt, grey sweatpants, has silver caps on some teeth.
Law enforcement officials believe this child to be in grave or immediate danger
Police are looking for JAMES CALVERT, white, male, 41, years old, 12031970, 5 feet 9 inches tall, 185 pounds, brown hair, AND brown eyes as the suspect in this abduction.
The suspect is driving a SILVER and/or GREY, 2000, Buick Le Sabre, 4-door with a Texas License Plate Number of DP4-G858. The suspect was last heard from in Tyler, Texas.
Law enforcement considers this suspect armed and extremely dangerous. If you see this suspect or the vehicle, DO NOT APPROACH! Call 911, tell them your location and what you have seen. If possible, keep the person or vehicle in sight but, again, DO NOT APPROACH!
In case you didn’t get it from my earlier comments, I’m a husband. The thought of anyone taking the life of my wife – the mother of my child – makes me sad to a depth that words cannot describe. The thought of someone doing that in front of our child makes my soul hurt.
Because I’m a dad, I also feel quite helpless and vulnerable, right now. Driving like a maniac, it would take me 10 to 12 minutes to get home from the station. If, God forbid, something horrible ever happened there, I would be essentially useless.
But, I’m also mad!
I could deal with those feelings reasonably well, were it not for the fact that I am also a veteran of both the military and law enforcement, with extensive training in how to discourage terrible things like this from happening and in how to bring them to a “quick and decisive conclusion” (if you know what I mean) when they do happen.
That realization is what has moved the feelings of sadness, helplessness and vulnerability to a feeling of anger.
Please I understand, I never want to have to face a deadly force decision, ever again. That is the most surreal experience any human being can ever endure. And, just when you think the encounter is over, you begin the process of people who weren’t there and have no clue what really happened taking several months to second-guess a decision that you had a second or two, at most, to make … a decision that you know will change someone’s life forever, if not end it.
Despite all of that, there’s a part of me that’s mad … mad because I wasn’t there to try to keep this from happening. I know it’s unrealistic, but I can’t help but think, “If only I’d been there, maybe I could have stopped him.” He doesn’t know me and wouldn’t have realized that I am a former cop until it was too late to react.
Yes, Twila, I know, ‘God is in control…’
Even though I’m angry about what happened today, I have to accept that there is nothing that happens on this earth that God does not either cause to happen or allow to happen. (Yes, there is a difference!) That realization, however, doesn’t stop even my marginally “normal” human mind from asking, “Why?” and “Why, not?” when things like this happen. Not having an answer to those questions is annoying. Knowing that I’m not even entitled to the answers is maddening.
Today, we’ve been talking on the air about the people who have changed your life. Obviously, Jesus changed my life when I accepted the free gift of salvation that he offers to everyone. That’s a given if you’re a Christian.
But there’s someone else who changed my life, too. I’ve mentioned her in the past. Her name was Wanda Pearce and she was the youth minister at First Baptist Church in Malvern, Arkansas, while I was a teenager growing up there.
When I was 16 years old, my parents separated and almost divorced. I was feeling the same kind of anger then that I am today. Only then, instead of my anger being directed at a homicidal maniac, I was mad at my mom and dad… and at God. I would never have admitted that I was mad at God, though, because I was too scared of him back then.
One day, sitting in Wanda’s office, as I stared out the window and didn’t respond to her questions, she said something that changed my attitude, and my life, forever:
It’s okay to be mad at God. He created you. He’s big enough to handle anything you can throw at him.
A few things you should know about me, to help understand the significance of this:
- I grew up in a Christian home.
- For most of my childhood and youth, I was in Sunday School, Sunday morning worship, Sunday night Bible study and Wednesday evening prayer meeting, period.
- Most of my family members are Christians.
- My teachers were Christians.
- The people who owned the grocery store down the street from my house were Christians.
- Most, if not all, of our neighbors were Christians.
- The guy who broke into our house when I was 13 years old was probably a back-slidden Christian.
No one, not one of them, ever told me that it was okay to be mad at God!
The knowledge that I could, albeit respectfully, express my frustration that God wasn’t running the world the way I thought he should freed me from a level of guilt that had kept me in bondage for more than a decade. I could actually talk to God. I could tell him how I really felt with a reasonable assurance that he would not turn me into a pillar of salt. This was the beginning of a beautiful new chapter in our relationship …
… which brings us back to today.
I’m not mad at God, because I know he didn’t cause this man to commit murder or kidnap his child, or cause this woman to die, or cause this child to be in such grave danger.
But I am still very mad that it happened and that neither I, nor someone with the skills and training God has privileged me to develop, were there to stop it. That having been said, I also have a very odd sense of peace, both because I know that God is okay with me being mad … and that he’s not okay at all with what happened today.
Maybe that’s what it means in Philippians 4:7 by “the peace of God that passes all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Thanks for reading!
Uh… excuse me, Jeff? It’s not about you!
P.S. Please forgive me for making this “story” about me. I know there is a terrified little boy out there trying to make sense of what he heard and/or saw today at the hands of his father. Little Lucas desparately needs our prayers.
Please also pray for the law enforcement personnel who are trying to capture this man and rescue Lucas. They are voluntarily placing themselves in extreme danger to try to save Lucas’ life. If you asked, they would tell you, “I’m just doing my job.” But many of them have spouses and children at home who depend on them to make it home alive and unharmed at the end of their shifts … just like Lucas was depending on his mommy and, to a limited extent, the father who (allegedly) so miserably failed him today.
Even if those law enforcement officers do make it through the day (or night) with no physical scars, they have to live with the emotional scars of what they see in the line of duty. These are things they will often keep bottled up inside because they don’t want their loved ones to be afraid of our world.
Please let every patrol car you see be a reminder to pray for the men and women who put their lives on the line to make our lives safer.
And now, more than ever, pray for peace.