Just the other night, the small town in which I reside was rocked by the sad news of the dastardly murder of one of our beloved though maybe infamous residents! The person in question was no saint, from most accounts, but then, 'what constitutes a saint'? Sure, he made some choices that were probably not the best, but at the time of decision, he probably didn't see any other option. On the other hand, he did much that blessed others & that is what he will be remembered for! Those who were on the receiving end of his bad choices will not doubt be forced to store these memories for future reference, but the good that he did & the blessing that he was will no doubt be forever foremost in their memory banks!
I personally did not have a relationship with this person apart from one of our local watering holes & to be honest, I wasn't sure that I wanted to; now I wish I had! Maybe I could have gotten to know & love the good instead of just seeing ( hearing about, really ) the bad; maybe I could have influenced his life in such a way that he would have made better decisions, but now we'll never know. 'It's no use crying over spilt milk', they say & there's been a lot of milk spilled; too much! What's done is done, we can't go back; all we can do is go forward, do better & thank our Father in Heaven for the time that we were given with him!
We can only hope & then act on that hope that this sad event will serve as a wake-up call to those involved, bring us closer together as a community & help us all to see & appreciate the good in our neighbors, not to condemn & ostracize them for the bad choices that they've made, just because they're different bad choices than the ones we made!
We can understand that choices have consequences, but even though our friend's bad choices may have finally caught up to him, two wrongs don't make a right & what happened to him most definitely wasn't right! On the other hand though, it might behoove us to try to understand where his murderer stood ( speaking of bad choices, that was a REALLY bad one ) & why he might have chosen to shoot & kill our friend, whether it was a cold-blooded murder or whether it happened 'in the heat of the moment'! What should happen to this murderer; should he face the same judgment he forced upon our friend? Most of those ( if not all ) involved would immediately & most definitely say 'YES'! Be that as it may, what should happen to this murderer? Rightly, he should face the same fate; his life should no doubt be taken as he so selfishly took our friends, but then again, we must duly note that his family probably feels the same! Maybe his loved ones would feel the same way if his life was taken, though justice would be served!
By looking back on this saddening event, may we ever be reminded, not just of the good things that our friend accomplished in his life, but, taking note of the bad choices he made & the consequences he paid, strive to make better choices in our own lives. We need to love our neighbor & do unto them as we would have them do to us. Too often we do unto others AS they do unto us, reacting to their actions rather than taking a preemptive strike & doing the right thing, whether it is reciprocated or not!
We all make bad choices, to whatever extent & we all pay a price for our mistakes! We may not know & may never know the exact reason why our friend paid with his life, but one thing is for sure; his murderer will pay with his own! Call it 'karma', call it 'reaping what you sow', his sin will surely find him out! Whether he just spends a long time in prison or whether he meets a just & abrupt end like he gave our friend, he is in hell & justly so!
Finally & on the other hand, our friend is at rest; he is no longer bothered by the day-to-day burdens of the flesh! Right or wrong, this murderer''s actions freed his spirit from his body & now, Lord willing, he rests in the 'Arms' of the One who made him. May Joseph ever rest in peace!
Charles Haddon Shank