Officer Eric Talley was one of ten people killed yesterday afternoon when a shooter attacked a grocery store in Boulder, Colorado.
Officer Talley joined the Boulder police department a decade ago. He had seven children; the youngest was seven years old. According to his father, “He loved his kids and family more than anything. He was looking for a job to keep himself off the front lines and was learning to be a drone operator. He didn’t want to put his family through something like this and he believed in Jesus Christ.”
Nonetheless, Boulder Police Chief Maris Herold told reporters that Officer Talley “was the first on the scene, and he was fatally shot.” Holding back tears, she added, “My heart goes out to the victims of this incident. And I’m grateful to the police officers that responded. And I am so sorry about the loss of Officer Talley.”
His father said, “Didn’t surprise me he was the first one there.” Chief Herold called Talley’s actions “nothing short of heroic.”
A friend described him: “He was a devout Christian. He had to buy a fifteen-passenger van to haul all his kids around, and he was the nicest guy in the world.”
Willing to die that we might live
CNN reports that the Colorado tragedy is the seventh mass shooting in the US in the past seven days. According to Wikipedia, there have been 107 mass shootings in the US so far this year, killing 122 people and wounding 325 others. There have only been five days this month without such a tragedy.
The Officer Down Memorial Page lists seventy-nine police officers who have died in the line of duty so far this year. Sergeant Gordon William Best of North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, was the first. He was killed in a vehicle crash while responding to a call at about 4 a.m. on January 1 and is survived by his wife and two children. Officer Talley is the last, so far.
There are more than eight hundred thousand sworn law enforcement officers serving in the US. Since the first recorded police death in 1786, more than twenty-two thousand have been killed in the line of duty.
What kind of courage is required for police officers to risk their lives every day for people they do not know? What depth of commitment to their shared calling enables their spouses and children to watch them leave each day with no assurance that they will return?
What kind of person runs toward a shooting when everyone else is running away?
Each police officer and each officer’s family member deserves our deepest gratitude and highest respect, today and every day. The next time and every time you see a police officer, please thank them for their courageous service. They are willing to die that you might live.
Do you know your cross?
I do not expect to risk my life today in the service of others. But I should be willing to do so or to pay any other price to fulfill God’s calling in my life.
Luke 9:23 records that Jesus “said to all, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.’” Note that this is said to all, not just some. There is a cross for everyone who would follow Jesus.
- It is a personalcross: “take up his” Your cross may not be mine, and mine may not be yours.
- It is a constantcross: “take up his cross daily.” This is a decision we must make every day of our lives. There is a cross for us every day that we live.
- It is an imperativecross: Jesus said that we must take up our cross in order to “follow me.” We are not following Jesus unless we are bearing a cross to do so.
Do you know your cross? It might be a temptation you must pay a price to refuse, or a calling you must pay a price to fulfill, or both. Would you ask the Lord to identify your cross today? Then would you ask him to give you the strength to bear it?
“Well done, good and faithful servant”
John 21:15 reads: “Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?’ He said to him, ‘Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.’ He said to him, ‘Feed my lambs.’”
In today’s First 15, Craig Denison responds: “Jesus is looking for disciples who will say yes to that which is greater than they could have ever imagined doing. He’s looking for friends like Simon Peter who will follow him wherever he leads, even it if means to their death. He’s looking for those who are so in love with him that at a single statement from his lips we willingly and obediently respond by taking up our cross as he did and living a surrendered, purposeful life.”
Craig then invites us to “assess whether Jesus truly is your greatest love. If he isn’t—if you wouldn’t follow him anywhere—take time to surrender anything you’ve placed above him. Confess any idols you have in your life that he might truly be crowned King of your heart today.”
Officer Eric Talley paid the highest price to fulfill his calling on behalf of those he served. The best way I know to honor his commitment is by emulating it. Then, one day, I hope Jesus will say to me what I am confident he said to Eric Talley yesterday: “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:23).
By his courage and his sacrifice, Officer Eric Talley was a “good and faithful servant,” indeed. How will you follow his example today?