Pastor's Blog

Lessons from Violence? Posted 1.29.2016

It has been a couple of weeks now and I’m still not sure I have learned a whole lot from “the incident.”  If you missed church a couple weeks ago, let me fill you in on the details surrounding “the incident.”  Paul, Bruce, Dan, and I were in the Coachella Valley to spend some time together and do some planning for the future.  Our first appointment was a tour of Belk Farms, host of the Tesoro Club outreach program our youth serve at a couple of times a year.  On our way, we hit a local (and highly recommended) hole-in-the-wall Mexican restaurant.  I still recommend it, to be honest.


As we were eating chips and salsa, a kerfuffle broke out in front of us. Two guys chased one guy.  The scene included things I rarely see in the normal course of life.  Threats.  Raging anger. A blocked exit. Foul language.  A pipe.  The word “kill.”  Two against one.  Knives.  And then it all melted together into a rather frightening scene.  Inches from us. 


I was either in a giant, real-life game of Clue (lead pipe, knife, dining room, Señor White).  Or I was about to face hospitalization and pain.  Neither was a thrilling prospect, so I slid across the bench seating as soon as the path out of that room was no longer blocked by these two large and angry men.  As soon as I got outside called 911, out of earshot of those two angry men.


Before long, the two guys left the restaurant and got in their car (which I was standing right next two while on the phone with the police) and sped off.  The “victim” then left as well.  It took a couple of minutes, but five cop cars showed up and took our story and made me feel safe again.  But, I was still hungry and Taco Tuesday beckoned me.  I led the charge back into the restaurant and we sat down for lunch (in a different room….but with the knives and broken chairs within eyesight).  I figured the five police cars made this the safest place in Coachella right then.


What have I learned?  Of spiritual significance, I’m not sure I’ve learned very much.  But I do know that most eyewitness accounts must give investigators fits.  Five minutes after the guys all left, I could hardly recall some of the details.  I did feel bad for leaving that poor guy defenseless against his enemies, but there was sentiment that he wasn’t all that innocent. Shocking, right.  But part of me regrets not stepping up in support of the “victim.”  Nothing ever did happen to him, but the threats for bodily harm were clear.


So unless I am ready (and I am not) to get into a fight, it is best to keep out of harm’s way and call the professionals.  I did deepen my appreciation for those brave men and women, willing to step into the midst of the anger and turmoil of daily life, not knowing what else might be in someone’s pocket – or heart.  Final thoughts?  Hug a cop.  Don’t call me to rescue you in a fight.  But if you need to find some great Carne Asada?  I’m your man.

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