What would you life look like as a TV show documentary? Starting with where you were born and the circumstances of your childhood. Then a montage about your school-life and what you were influenced by. Throw in a couple of milestones like who you married, the jobs you took and what you were passionate about. All this leading in to the part where you finally breathe your last. Your friends will always remember you. Roll credits.
I’ve been watching so many crime documentaries, each one narrating about a life lost, the search for justice or discovering what pushed someone over the edge. Some were plain, ‘ideal’ and predictable. Some confused, fearful and full of pain. The exciting ones were those of people who led dual lives, secret lives, how could people live so disintegrated?
There’s one story we know pretty well, so I thought I’d rewrite it. Let me tell you about the story of a man that was killed by passion. (Do imagine the slightly eerie sound effects, the dark interview room with slightly harsh light, and old footage of the actual crime scene)
Narrator: It was a crime of passion. It wasn’t the usual jealousy or anger towards a lover that led to this man’s death, it was an uncomfortable love-hate kind of relationship. The hate part grew stronger as deep discomfort amongst people bubbled to the surface, until one day, it eventually killed him.
He was murdered on a hill just outside the city centre. Amongst a noisy crowd, his last breath so silent the coroners aren’t sure his exact time of death. He sustained a stab wound on his abdomen and several bruises on his body, kicked and struck by his assailants before he finally succumbed to his injuries. His cause of death: vicious blunt force trauma. His mother was nearby but when she got to him, he was already dead.
He was the only son of a rather poor but humble family. His father a hardworking engineer, his mother stayed at home. By 12, he was vibrant, curious and always exuded a certain charm.
He was also a private man. ‘Mysterious but sincere’, were what many described him as. He never spoke much about himself, instead always discussing the controversial issues of the poor and challenging the norm. Though a man of few words, he spoke with intent and with wisdom beyond his years. It was this magnetism that drew many, friends, fans and fiends alike.
His mother was clueless, “I can’t imagine why anyone would want to kill him, he had never been aggressive in his life, stubborn perhaps, but never forceful! I just can’t believe he just isn’t here with us anymore. He was so young. It just isn’t fair”
Investigators spoke to one witness, James, one of the few who knew him well.
“I think he knew it was coming. One evening, after dinner, he mentioned about how everything is going to change, wiped out, be destroyed – cities, monuments, even mountains and beaches. He was having one of those nights again – talking about dark times. I asked him why he was doing this again, he seemed a little paranoid, completely crazy but oddly sure. He told us to not be fooled by imposters and a war might happen but it’s not the end. Disasters, non-stop fighting and fear everywhere! He even mentioned that anyone who knew him might be thrown in jail! At that moment, I was thinking to myself, what has he done?!
I wasn’t so sure I wanted to listen anymore, the less I know the better right? I could still wiggle my way out of this situation. But as he was leaving my house, he told me that I didn’t have to worry about calling my lawyers, that I should stick to the truth and not be worried cause he got it all covered. Polygraph tests, testimonies and the physical evidence will protect us. It didn’t make sense then, but it makes sense now. He knew some guys were coming after him. We saw the look in their eyes once, they were coming back for us and they were going to kill him first. I wish I could have done something earlier.
Narrator: Snatched off the streets, they bound him and beat him up beyond recognition. That once bright-eyed man, that made everyone his friend, spat blood and struggled the night he died. The gang who did it were all caught and tried in court, one by one, each one getting life in prison. But who knows if there may be more out there. His close friends and family are under special surveillance but they know they are targets. Perhaps it’s just a matter of time.
A memorial service was held and many came to say goodbye. This man, Jesus, will always be remembered for his act of bravery, a self sacrifice that saved his community. On his tombstone “Your endurance will win you your lives”, his words of encouragement give us hope. He held on till the very end, dying for what he believed in. His passion stronger than death.
Based of Luke 21:5-19
Of course, this is not just CSI or criminal minds, this is a true story, re-imagined in my mind. It’s the end of the year so it’s time to take stock of reality, recognize just how finite we are and live on with gratitude and boldness. Jesus has got it all covered.
* I struggled to write this, the process was exactly as the passage described, the beauty of it was swept away, demolished by my ego. Deceived by what is God and what was not. Frightened and anxious that people won’t take well to a criminal story. Community was not beside me as they had all been caught up with work and I spiralled into abandonment before finally steeling myself and trust that the entire story is good, as long as it points to God. That felt like endurance. Go read the passage, maybe you’ll find a similar moment in your life. Praise God.