I work alongside some amazing people who are cops and firefighters. For many years I’ve shared with them some of the most heart wrenching scenes of tragedy one could ever imagine. I have also shared in quite a bit of laughter joining in with them as they express their humor, even enjoying some of the dark humor which you cannot escape in this line of work if you hang around cops and firefighters long enough. A few weeks ago, one of my favorite officers whom I consider a friend, retired. He has been my supervisor for the past five years. Together he and I started the peer support team and program which is now thriving at the police department. We’ve been on several tough calls over the years. He is dearly loved and respected by all the department. A gentle spirit and a good cop.
I attended his retirement event at the police department and heard a lot of very cool things said about this man. A few days later I joined in with a handful of cops at the end of his very last day with the department at a send off get together at a local brewery. We all sat together and had a few beers while reminiscing and telling some funny stories about him. Everyone shared something special too. He obviously is leaving having left quite a mark on everyone there including me. After several hours it was time for me to get on home so I got up to go around the other side of the table where were all seated to bid him farewell. He stood and we embraced with a tight hug, and I told him I loved him to which he responded, “I love you too.”
In that moment and for days following I couldn’t help but wonder about my faith, my doctrine, my theology considering that short embrace I had. These days I wonder a lot about God after all I’ve seen over the years. My retired cop is not a Christian. He might be an agnostic at best but for sure he’s not what many Christians would say, “saved.” In that embrace with him I felt like it was an extension of God hugging me. He wasn’t blowing smoke when he said he loved me too. This guy embodied a pretty darn good reflection of what I could only describe as what the image of God might be like when manifested through a human being. If it is love that is shared between two human beings and love shared from a heart of sincerity, then how can one not be considered “saved”? Saved from a life of selfish living. Saved from a life of anger, hatred, evil or even worse. Saved from a life of NOT loving or being loved. Saved into a life of “getting it” and living out the God ordained purpose of life, which is to love, whether one realizes love is from God or not.
Of course, having faith in God, following the way of Jesus, and sensing a spiritual presence of God in our being only sweetens the deal of being alive and being saved into a life of love. Watching my friend live and love over the years has reinforced what I’ve witnessed time and time again over the years which is that many whom we Christians would claim to “be the lost” can be far more loving than I, even with God in my life. That tells me that the image of God can shine forth from any human being on the planet if they choose a to live life of love. How can God not be happy with that? God is love. Love comes from God.