I can’t believe that I spent almost ten years working in law enforcement in our community. What an honor it was to help patrol the streets at night as you slept safely in your homes. What a blessing it was to be there for you when you suffered loss or was harmed or just need someone to check things out. For all those who have had their home burglarized when you were away. I remember the feeling you had of being violated. It was like your entire home now had turned into some place you don’t recognize. Someone came into your home and plundered things that were precious to you and took things that could never be replaced. My heart went out to you as I dusted for fingerprints, took pictures, and inventoried all that you could identify that had been stolen. I remember patrolling through your neighborhoods late at night and in the early morning hours to assure your home and neighborhood was safe. I’d drive by at night and see your lights on and wonder, was that the family watching television together. I would ponder each of your unique homes and stories about your lives. You invited me into your homes for meals, or a friendly chat. I was welcomed into your businesses and restaurants where you would always put an extra helping of the meal you happen to be serving at the time. Some of you wouldn’t even let me pay for my meal. At times I ate so much, the bullet proof vest had to be removed to breathe, LOL. You were such an encouragement to me as I had to see so many sad things in a typical week of patrol. These kinds of moments lifted my spirit many times.
I remember getting so hot, while on duty at Pensacola Beach with the sun up and a bullet proof vest on. It was torcher the heat was so bad. I had many hours to contemplate inventions such as to hook your car AC system up to your bullet proof vest to cool yourself down. Every time I took my bullet proof vest off and said, that’s it, I had it. I’m not going to wear that thing anymore,” I’d get a call “Shots fired, be in route. Man is shooting at…” It never failed. I’d have to put the vest on enroute to the shooting, or stop and quickly put it back on then head that way. Wow, can you imagine your choice of job is one where every day you put on a bullet proof vest!
I remember having to arrest those who broke the law, yet also remembering my heart breaking for them too as it wasn’t going to be good for them. I remember young men who hung out on the streets and were headed to great trouble. They were so kind to me and I to them. I would tell them, you can’t do this, this isn’t good. It won’t end well for you if you continue this. Then I remember, a short time later, these young men being arrested. It broke my heart. I remember one of these young men. He was so kind. His family so kind and such a blessing to many. I warned him not to hang out where he was, but he didn’t listen and got arrested. He was very tall, yet very young. He was in the jail booking area and was weeping. He was so tall my right shoulder was covered with his tears as he was crying on my shoulder. There was nothing I could do at that point. He didn’t listen to wisdom, he didn’t listen to his parents, he didn’t listen to my warnings and he now had been arrested and charged. His life, as he knew it was going to be changed forever. I wanted, more than ever, for this tragic moment in his life to be “undone” but there are things we can unpack in life that can never go back together, we have to live with the scars they cause. We all have those kinds of scars.
I have so many memories of those 9+ years, but most of all my greatest memory is when I was on patrol one early morning. It was quiet and nothing much was happening. I was patrolling as usual and suddenly I had a hunger in my heart to know God. I know, it doesn’t make sense, but I could feel the Lord drawing me to Himself, but I had no grid to understand what was going on. So, I pulled over into a church parking lot and began trying to find a “Christian Radio Station” but was unsuccessful as I had never listened to Christian music. At this time in my life, I listened to artists like Luther Vandross and other similar artists. I called a dispatcher, Patti, and asked her, “Do you know where I can find a Christian Radio station?” She told me, but back then it didn’t come on until 6AM in the morning, I parked there and waited since there were no calls to go on. While waiting there in this church parking lot, I looked up and saw the church sign that said “Dinner Thursday Nights “FREE””! Since I was a single man and didn’t know how to approach God, or “a church” I thought, free meal that’s a perfect way for a single man to get a meal (that I didn’t have to fix) and meet “church people”. It was that Thursday night that I walked into the church, with my future wife Donna (unknown to me at the time) right beside me and my future church where I’d give my life to the Lord. I found out at this church amazing news! I couldn’t believe it, God gave His Son, Jesus to pay the price for all my sins and that Jesus loved me and He proved His love for me by dying on the Cross, paying the price for all my many sins, and was raised from the dead by God three days later. As I wanted to “undo” the tragic arrest for the young man who cried on my shoulder in the jail booking room and couldn’t, Jesus did for me! All my many sins where I sinned against God, sinned against others, and sinned against myself, what I couldn’t do for that young man in the jail, God did for me through His Son Jesus Christ. Wow! To know now, God and His Son, Jesus, was and are both in heaven, Jesus at God’s right hand, saw me, called me to Himself then saved me. Wow, it was at that moment I was all His. Though the ride was bumpy at the start, it got somewhat smoother since I was able to learn more about the Lord, His leadership in my life and being under my new pastor, who is still my pastor today after all these many years, Pastor John Kilpatrick. Here is more about my story: GregLancaster.org/KnowGod
Thank you to all the many law enforcement officers who patrol our streets today and our neighborhoods. We are grateful for you. If you need a drink, a nice meal or a kind chat, know that you can stop by my home any time. If you are wondering what’s happening when you pass by late in the night when you see our lights on know that we are blessed! God has done great things for us and, because of Him, we have the house! You are welcome any time!