Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

July 19, 2020


The thin blue line needed now more than ever


            Violent crime since the murder of George Floyd in May has led hundreds of police officers to file for retirement. In New York State alone, more than 500 officers have decided to retire, citing lack of respect, the loss of overtime pay and the clamor to defund the police.

            This is alarming news at a time when lawlessness is rampant in major cities across our nation. Yet who can blame these officers? Few of us would want a job that requires you to risk your life every day while angry people ridicule you, throw eggs and bricks at you and torch your police car while bystanders applaud such deeds.

            But while the decision to retire is understandable, we all know chaos will rule and ruin our country without responsible law enforcement. The truth is, a peaceful society cannot exist without police. So those of us who care about our nation need to send a message to our law enforcement personnel, and the message is this: We need you! Don’t leave us now because we need you more than ever!

            Overwhelming violence is not new. Ages ago the Prophet Habakkuk cried out to God with a plea that sounds like our own today:

            “How long, O Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, ‘Violence!’ but you do not save? Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrong? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and conflict abounds. Therefore the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails. The wicked hem in the righteous, so that justice is perverted.”

            The Lord answered Habakkuk’s complaint, advising him that a time of judgment was coming. Interestingly, one of the sins requiring God’s punishment was bloodshed. This is what the Lord said: “Woe to him who builds a city with bloodshed and establishes a city by crime!” Then come these memorable words: “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.”

            Habakkuk’s response is captivating. While he pleads, “in wrath remember mercy,” he also declares his decision to remain faithful to God no matter what. Few words in the Bible are more inspiring than these by the prophet:

            Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.”

            What strength Habakkuk had! To pronounce correctly the prophet’s name, you must use the word ”back.” So, you pronounce his name this way: “Huh-back-kuk.” In the prophet’s back was a strong backbone, a backbone with steel in it. There was no Jell-O in it!

            Habakkuk saw hard times coming. God was going to punish the people for their sins. But Habakkuk’s faith was not shaken. He believed God was in control and nothing would destroy the joy God gives to those who trust him.

            The little word “yet” is a powerful word. God’s people are “Yet people.” No matter how difficult the times, God’s people will say, “Yet will I rejoice in the Lord, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation!”

            There is no doubt there are some “bad” police officers who need to be removed from law enforcement. But the majority of the police are decent, God-fearing public servants who need our support, respect, affirmation and prayers. They need people with strong backbone who will stand with them in the face of the hate, violence and ridicule they are facing today.

            And now more than ever, our nation needs police officers with steel in their backbone, men and women who will say, despite the dangers facing us, yet will we stay the course and do our part to save America from the chaos threatening to divide and destroy us. How desperately our country needs good people who refuse to quit because times are hard!

            Dare we not pray for such a thin blue line to emerge with new strength and resolve in our time? + + +