One never expects to see a picture announcing the death of a long-time family friend while casually perusing the national headlines.
Still, that’s what happened last week as I nonchalantly “clicked” on a world-wide news source only to see a picture of Deputy Micah Flick, killed in the line of duty while trying to protect and serve the citizens of Colorado Springs.
I hadn’t seen Micah since we were kids.
His parents and mine were dear friends. We were nearly the same age. And if memory serves, not one but two of my sisters lived with the Flicks for a season there in Colorado.
In such ways, his family has been an immense blessing to my own.
Sadly, I never knew Micah as a man. I never met his wife Rachael. And my kids never played with the 7-year-old twins he left behind. Hence, I have no claim to the kind of grief borne by those who really knew him.
Still, as I watched the live-stream of his funeral Saturday, I couldn’t help but find the scene both hopeful and “excruciating.”
His wife talked of his faith and fatherhood. A fellow officer told how Micah sacrificed his life for others. He was serious about the things that mattered, and a self-professed “goofball” about the other stuff.
It was only later that I realized that this is precisely the right word.
For a story to be “excruciating” is literally for it to be “of” or “like” the Cross (or crucis)—the form of execution Christ experienced.
This was a form of torture.
And that’s how we usually mean the term.
The “excruciating” describes agony and sadness. It describes gut-wrenching grief and unimaginable travail.
A DEEPER MEANING
Yet it struck me after watching Micah’s funeral that we also need a second—deeper—definition.
Intensely painful, agonizing
More truly “of the cross”– to give one’s life for others.
Because while all tragic deaths are “excruciating” in the first sense, almost none are like the second.
In saying that, Micah would be the first to note that his own sacrifice could not hold a candle to the work of Jesus. His death was not salvific in that sense.
Still, the two “excruciating” stories do have this in common: a willingness to lay down everything for others.
And as Christ said: “Greater love hath no man than this.”
That kind of work deserves respect from people like myself.
So while I am not one who automatically sides with the police in every single use of force (I’ve even written on that topic elsewhere), I do have an abiding gratitude for the impossible and important job they do on a daily basis.
A job, it should be said, done on behalf of people like me, who often live in blissful ignorance of the worries and the risks that accompany both they and their loved ones.
To Micah’s friends and family, I am so sorry for your loss.
And I join with you in the hope that he will be like Christ not merely in his death, but in his resurrection.
For any interested in donating to Micah’s widow and children, see here for a fund established by the El Paso Co. Sheriff’s Office.