Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
Who was the strongest man to ever walk the face of the earth? Jesus Christ. No one was stronger. As the Creator in human form, He simply could have spoken His enemies out of existence.
Do you think He had to submit himself to Pontius Pilate?
Jesus could have said, “You’re getting on my nerves. You’re dead. Bye.”
He could have walked out of there.
On one occasion, people from the synagogue in His hometown of Nazareth tried to throw him off a cliff. But the Bible tells us that “passing through the midst of them, He went His way” (Luke 4:30 NKJV). It was as if to say, “Yeah, I’m not going off a cliff today. I’m going right through here, and you’re getting out of my way.”
Jesus controlled that power, submitted, gave up his rights, and laid himself down. He didn’t lay aside His divinity, but He did lay aside his rights. He suffered for us and died on the cross.
In Matthew 11:29 Jesus said of himself, “I am gentle and lowly in heart” (NKJV).
Joseph, too, is a classic example of meekness. Even though his brothers betrayed him and sold him into slavery, he became the second most powerful man in Egypt through God’s providence.
And later, when a famine struck the land and his brothers went to Egypt in search of food, Joseph was in charge of the food supply. They didn’t recognize him. Certainly they didn’t think he was alive.
Joseph, with a snap of his finger, could have had them all put to death. But instead, he forgave them. That was meekness—power under constraint.
Jesus said, “Blessed are the meek” (Matthew 5:5 NKJV). If you want to be a happy person, then seek to become a man or woman of meekness.
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg (North Carolina) Police detective said he felt liberated in 2014 after he attended the first retreat at the Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove with his wife Cheryl. That’s when—for the first time—the Parkers realized they weren’t alone in the spiritual hardships that law enforcement officials face.
And on Monday night, six years after that first NLER, Parker drew upon the same word. Only this time he dressed it a little differently. This time it was more personal. He rubbed his already red eyes and sat down in The Cove’s auditorium where he had just shared his testimony, including excerpts from his journal, for the first time.
“It’s painfully liberating,” Parker said, leaning back into the seat. “It was really hard for me to talk about this, and I put it off for a long time.”
Parker is now in his fourth year as a speaker for the National Law Enforcement Retreat, hosted by the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team. Many law enforcement officials find his messages relevant because he often teaches Biblical truths as if they were a police case review. One time, his message centered on “If Jesus Were a Cop.” He uses hilarious, somewhat safe, personal anecdotes to drive his messages.
But during the kickoff for this year’s NLER, Parker shelved his usual approach in favor of sheer vulnerability. He didn’t want to. In fact, he had something else planned until this past June. Earlier this year, his wife Cheryl pointed out that nobody really knew his story. And ultimately, God made it clear it was time.
So on Monday night before hundreds, Parker dug deep and shared his testimony. The highly decorated detective talked about his downward spiral and hitting bottom around 2012. That’s when he considered eating his gun simply because he had lost hope. He especially highlighted how Cheryl suffered through his period of darkness. They had begun to live separate lives. He stayed in his darkness. She worked, took care of the kids and ran the house. She felt somewhat blindsided by how deep in the pit he had gotten until he just couldn’t hide it anymore. That was 2013, the year he also began journaling thanks to the advice of a close, faithful friend.
He read some excerpts aloud on Monday for the first time, pausing frequently to collect himself.
March 2013: To fix me, I must fix us … two lonely people walking together.
May 2013: I really believe there is no difference between being alone and being dead. Pink Floyd was right, I have become “comfortably numb.”
July 2013: My God and my Father, I have nothing to offer you but myself. … Help me Father.
October 2013, while awaiting the trial of a three-year case: I’m proud of my accomplishment, but was the price I paid worth it? … I’m sorry for all I missed, the tears I have caused, and for what I became. Now, at the end, I reflect and see what a terrible life it was. Forgive me Lord and lead me home.
November 2013: I have learned so much this year, Jesus is the answer for everything. … I hear Him say, ‘Stay focused on Me, stay focused on Me.’ Help me Lord to love You more.
“Parker knows it’s not about me. It’s about the God that saved me, the God that healed me, the God that gives me hope,” emcee and fellow Rapid Response Team chaplain Kelly Burke later said. “It’s about the God that gives me capacity to be a great cop.
“All the arrests and all the accolades, that’s all going to burn. But what [Parker is] doing now in reflecting God’s hope, God’s light through that broken vessel, is showing these other officers that there’s at least one person who understands where they are.”
Colleagues who knew Parker before Jesus got a hold of his heart admit he was a great cop, but man was he hard to be around. That changed once Parker surrendered to the Lord. Now others gravitate toward him.
“He’s genuine, and he loves the Lord,” said Biblical counselor and fellow NLER speaker Denise Molatch, who first met the Parkers at the 2014 retreat. “He reminds me a lot of my [late] husband because he taught self-defense and literally he could hold his own with anyone, yet he had the softest, sweetest spirit.
“That attracts a lot of police officers. They see that spirit within him, so they’re amazed by that.”
Parker’s message didn’t trigger too many laughs this time around. Yet his raw, authentic approach resonated. Men and women wiped their eyes. Some affirmed Parker with an “Amen” here and there as he illustrated with God’s Word how God meets us where we are. He shared several passages of Scripture, but particularly focused on Lamentations 3 where the prophet Jeremiah believed he dwelled in darkness, out of God’s earshot. But that same man, Parker said, goes on to say God’s steadfast love never ceases.
That truth is one that he and Cheryl came to focus upon during what they now call their years of misery, Parker said. Now, his prayer every day is “God, show me Your glory.”
“It’s only through the love and the steadfast mercy of Jesus Christ that we can say it is well with me,” Parker said in closing, citing a popular worship song the audience sang just before his message. “I know there’s pain in this room. I know there are marriages that need help, and I know there are people sitting here that feel walled off and forgotten by God. You have not been forgotten. He’s waiting. For you.”
Jesus Christ did not say, “Go and save souls” (the salvation of souls is the supernatural work of God), but He said, “Go…make disciples of all the nations….” Yet you cannot make disciples unless you are a disciple yourself. When the disciples returned from their first mission, they were filled with joy because even the demons were subject to them. But Jesus said, in effect, “Don’t rejoice in successful service— the great secret of joy is that you have the right relationship with Me” (see Luke 10:17-20). The missionary’s great essential is remaining true to the call of God, and realizing that his one and only purpose is to disciple men and women to Jesus. Remember that there is a passion for souls that does not come from God, but from our desire to make converts to our point of view.
The challenge to the missionary does not come from the fact that people are difficult to bring to salvation, that backsliders are difficult to reclaim, or that there is a barrier of callous indifference. No, the challenge comes from the perspective of the missionary’s own personal relationship with Jesus Christ— “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” (Matthew 9:28). Our Lord unwaveringly asks us that question, and it confronts us in every individual situation we encounter. The one great challenge to us is— do I know my risen Lord? Do I know the power of His indwelling Spirit? Am I wise enough in God’s sight, but foolish enough according to the wisdom of the world, to trust in what Jesus Christ has said? Or am I abandoning the great supernatural position of limitless confidence in Christ Jesus, which is really God’s only call for a missionary? If I follow any other method, I depart altogether from the methods prescribed by our Lord— “All authority has been given to Me….Go therefore…” (Matthew 28:18-19). From My Utmost for His Highest Updated Edition