[notice]A monthly column by Marcel van der Watt, lecturer in the Department of Police Practice at UNISA, former police detective, and current member of the Gauteng Rapid Response Task Team for Human Trafficking.[/notice]
In a recent high level meeting of industry experts in the field of crime and justice, the issue of the current state of the criminal justice system surfaced. Like a can of worms being opened up, one critique followed the other in what increasingly became a discussion that made me feel discontented and worried about the state of affairs and, more specifically, the slow pace at which justice prevails for those affected. For a brief moment I began questioning my value in the bigger scheme of facilitating justice for victims of gender based crimes and human trafficking. The battle suddenly appeared insurmountable whilst more frightening words like ‘corruption’, ‘rot’ and ‘hopeless’ were being generated by some involved in the discussion.
In a sudden and sobering moment I realised that my mind was not created for ‘pollution’. As the pessimism around me increased, I was divinely reminded of the warriors all over the world I am privileged to work with. I thought of the amazing work being done by the National Freedom Network, Salvation Army, the James127Trust, Missing Children South Africa and The Sophie Hayes Foundation to name but a few. The names of countless individuals popped up as I saw their faces in front of me and heard their voices as they toil to bring peace and justice to where it hurts the most. A feeling of pride and hope stirred up deep inside of me. Out of nowhere came more encouraging thoughts from the daily Legalbrief internet news updates circulated to academics. I was reminded of at least three success stories per day where hardened criminals were convicted for heinous crimes and sentenced for lengthy periods in prison. I remembered my days as an investigator and, more specifically, how much time, discipline and dedication had to be invested in any case that is prosecuted successfully. These sobering thoughts were unequivocal about one thing – GOOD MEN AND WOMEN DO EXIST, THEIR EFFORTS HAVE ETERNAL VALUE AND THE IMPACT IS TANGIBLE.
Faith and God’s Word
As children of God’s army we are mandated to represent the light in a world characterised by injustice, instability and a host of skewed desires, the root of which only He can satisfy. We are well aware that undertaking this privileged and divine task is not something we can do on our own. Our faith is bolstered by hearing God’s Word (Romans 10:17) and we are strengthened by like-minded believers to fight the good fight and to invest our thoughts, time and resources in things that have eternal value. Yet, every so often, we make ourselves vulnerable to a rodent that has absolutely no mandate amongst God’s elite – WORRIES.
Jesus is very clear in His instruction against worries (Matthew 6:25-34). In fact, the danger of worries is clearly explicated in the Parable of the Sower as one of the three things listed that can actually choke the Word of God in our lives (Mark 4:18-19). I often yield to worries and anxiety, especially in areas I choose to hold onto rather than fully devoting them to God. Worries challenge our humility. We often provide a mechanical ‘FINE!’ as an answer to someone asking us how we are doing. FINE very often means Freaked-out, Insecure, Neurotic and Emotional – issues we don’t easily confess without realising the harm it causes. The answer to this problem is beautifully illustrated in a story told by John Hagee (Life’s Challenges, Your Opportunities).
Years ago, in the pioneer days of aviation, a pilot was making a flight around the world. After he had gone for some two hours from his last landing field, he heard a noise in the plane. After listening intently, he recognised the sound as the gnawing of a rat. He surmised that while his plane was on the ground, a rat had gotten into the engine well. Worry and fear took their grip like a tight, choking vice around his throat. For all he knew, the rat could be gnawing through a vital cable or control panel of the plane.
The pilot was in a very serious problem. He became more and more worried. As the noise continued, his worry turned to panic! It was more than two hours to the next landing field! He began to pray in search for God’s answers to his problem.
Then suddenly he remembered; a rat is a rodent. It is not made for the heights; it is made to live near and under the ground. The pilot began to climb the plane. He went up a thousand feet, then another thousand, and then another until he was more than twenty thousand feet in the air. He climbed the plane until he no longer heard the gnawing of the rat. More than two hours later, the pilot brought the plane safely down on the next landing field, opened the engine compartment, and found the dead rat and a partially gnawed cable. The rat had not survived in the high atmosphere.
Worry brings about paralysis and robs us of an opportunity to experience God’s divine power and supernatural ability. It blinds us against acknowledging the good that is happening around us. We need to climb and ascend into the atmospheric heights of prayer and time with God until our rodents suffocate. God is the ULTIMATE – and forgetting the ULTIMATE makes us slaves to the IMMEDIATE!