Since yesterday, I have stayed out of the text conversation, because I did not know what I wanted to say in response to my family members’ thoughts. The first text said, “The jury on Amber Guyger’s case was just dismissed to deliberate. We need to pray now.” My first thought was, “Pray for what…” What do I pray for in this situation?
Just in case, you don’t know about this case, Amber Guyger is a young white female police officer in Dallas who shot and killed Botham Shem Jean, a young, black man. My family and I have followed and discussed this case since it happened in September, 2018. This shooting hit us hard and close because Jean was a member of our church family, not locally, but our children have sang in some of the same places as him. As I wrote when the murder happened, “Botham Jean, a song leader, youth minister, loved by his family, community and church, is gone, for no good reason.” This man was just like our sons.
Amber Guyger claimed to have gone into the wrong apartment, thinking that it was her own. Seeing Botham in the apartment, thinking that he was an intruder, while still in uniform, she shot him in the heart. She had entered his unlocked apartment on the third floor which was above hers on the second floor. She had just finished an extended shift at work. Now her case had gone to trial and the jury was out. What to pray for? I will tell you what I prayed for – “All good things.” It is my most usual prayer. I prayed for the best, good thing that could happen, to happen. And I will tell you that it was a selfish prayer. I didn’t know what good thing could happen in such tragic circumstances, but I needed something good, I mean right, I mean I wanted a God thing to happen. Our children, who are coming into their own spiritually and physically, have been so discouraged by the murders and things happening to black men and by their own newfound sense of black history. My prayer was for them not to be driven into despair about the country in which they are now and will be raising their children. I don’t want them to feel at risk or in danger, or stymied, just because they are black. Yesterday when the verdict came back guilty, our oldest son commented, “Justice. You can’t just walk into our homes and murder us.”
In our family text, our son-in-law stated, “I just want Jesus to come back.” Well, Botham Jean’s brother, during the sentencing phase, forgave Amber Guyger and asked to hug her. That hug…Jesus came back (into the situation). It’s a thing that only God can do in the hearts of man. And after the sentencing of 10 years, the judge came over and talked with and hugged Guyger and gave her a Bible. (Were you mad about that? So was Jonah.) My prayer was answered. A God moment.
But it was just a moment. We still have a long way to go – my family, this country, this world. But I know what I will continue to pray for – “All good things.” Only God can give us that.
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