A long time ago (probably just past a decade now), we were in a group of mostly-college-aged mostly-singles from our church.
In this group (as frequently happens), a boy and a girl started to date. They were perfect together. Beaming. He proposed. The engagement lasted only long enough to put a simple wedding together. Its length was measured in weeks, not months. I was overjoyed for them. (I had, not long before, endured a six-month engagement… a few weeks seemed much more doable.)
I helped with a few practical aspects of the wedding. I recall cutting up a LOT of fruit from Sam’s club with another friend. I remember chatting with the bride’s mama the evening before the ceremony. “This one’s gonna last,” she said. I agreed. They loved each other deeply and, more, they both loved and followed Jesus.
I watched them pledge “until death.”
A couple years passed. We were now attending different churches, so we saw less of each other. We shared a few meals. He became a police officer, she became a mama. Then, as friendships can go, we all got busy and we lost touch. We kept up on pieces of each other’s lives over facebook. We chatted when we ran into each other around town, marveled at the size and number of each other’s kids.
Earlier this month, his face showed up all over the news and social media. He’d been ambushed on duty. Shot multiple times. Miraculously in stable condition in Anchorage with his wife. His leg would heal- he was up and walking, despite bullets still imbedded. Shrapnel had hit his eye, and it may be lost, but he’d likely be fine. We rejoiced with the entire town for his life.
Then, after nearly two weeks, he went into surgery for that eye.
Things went south.
His sweet wife has four little kids to grieve with. They have a God bigger than all of this, but the road is long.
The community is heartbroken.
They say “Fairbanks lost a hero,” but we have hope, because he actually isn’t lost- we know where he is.
I keep seeing the letters “RIP” followed by his name. “Rest in peace” is a nice sentiment, but I can’t help but read the word “rip.” Death is a rending of the way God created us. We know this intrinsically. Even when death is expected, it jars us.
Allen was ripped from his wife, from his kids, from his fellow officers, from his church and friends, from the town.
My heart is thankful for One who specializes in mending.
And right now we weep.
Lord Jesus, please hold Natasha and the kids especially near right now. I ask that You would use this, unfathomably, for their good and Your glory. Thank you for Allen’s faith and for the promise of heaven. Please give those around them wisdom to help and comfort his family. I pray that you would provide support for them long after the news has died down. Please cover them all with Your goodness and grace and mercy.
(If you’re looking for a practical way to help, here’s the crowdfunding page set up by the FPD Employee’s Association.)