It's A Wonderful (Cop's) Life

A Christmas story (with apologies to Frank Capra) by Chaplain Steve Lee, Founder of POM. Prologue & Post-Script (and some editing) by Chaplain Frank Ruffatto, Executive Director of POM


“But you survived, Mike.  You came out OK.”

“I almost died – for real.  And I left a trail of bodies behind me.  My first wife.  My kids from my first marriage.  Other people.  I screwed up a lot of folks – myself included.  God forgave me, but I still live with a lot of ghosts.”

George shook his head.  “I got a lot on my mind.  Lots of stuff like you said.  A lot of it’s not fair – not right - and I’m just trying to get through the day . . .”

“. . . by makin’ it worse,” Mike interrupted.  “Look, if you want fair we’d all be in hell.  You got a chance here - a chance I blew.  I wish I could do my life over, but I can’t.  Thank God he’s picked up the pieces and given me another opportunity to live, but don’t think that undoes all the damage.  Don’t make my mistake, George.  Trust me - what you got is good, real good.  You won’t do better.”

Sanchez sagged down into his seat.  “All I’m saying is that it doesn’t matter what I do - nothing makes a difference.  It wouldn’t matter if I’d never been born.  Sometimes I wish I hadn’t.  I don’t feel worth much.  Fact is, with my insurance, I’m worth more dead than alive.”

“Why did you get into this line of work, Sanchez?”

“Same as every cop, I suppose.  I wanted to help people, but I found out they don’t want to be helped."

“You got into this job to protect and serve, but if you die tomorrow society will never miss you, even though you’ve done more for society than they or you will ever remember – remember that little girl you pulled from the water and gave back alive to her mom?  But if you quit on God and the folks who actually give a rip about you and who need you to protect and serve them as husband and father and family and friend, then you will truly be missed in more ways than you will ever know.  You will rob them of the one thing they can never replace – you.  The only problem with you is that you need someone big enough to get your attention about how much you have and how much you’re worth, someone who can lift you high enough to see over your problems.  Let God pick you up, and the rest will come.  Back away from the TV and think, kid.  You’ve got so much going for you, and you do make a difference, a big difference, but you need God to get it right – to get the peace you need.”

The Ultimate Peace Officer Comes

A light snow started outside, the radio in the diner crackled, “Hark the herald angels sing, ‘Glory to the newborn King! Peace on earth and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled!’”

The two sat quietly.  Finally Sanchez spoke.  “I want to live again, Mike, but I don’t know how . . .”

“Nobody on earth knows how - that’s why we have Christmas.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean what a little kid once told me.  You know – my boy Tim.  He said, ‘That’s why Jesus came.’  Jesus gave me a second shot at life.  He’ll do the same for you.  Your call, Maestro.  Prove me wrong about you.”  Duncan laid some money on the table and slowly got up to leave.  Then, pausing and smiling, he picked up his coffee cup and raised it in a toast.  “To my friend George – the richest man in town . . .”

George stayed lost in thought, and then sat straight,

Then stood up tall, and shoved aside fate.

He called to his friend as he stepped out the door,

“Wait up, Mike, I want to know more . . .”

His words faded into a Christmas made new,

But the bell on the door rang strong, and true.

Post-Script

What officer hasn’t started out his career ready to save the world and feeling ten feet tall and bullet proof only to discover that the world doesn’t care or want him around? And more, the holiday season only seems to make it worse, not better. I can remember working a moonlighting job at a major toy store during the holidays. Watching people scramble and scrabble with each other over things that would be forgotten only helped to callous my spirit toward others. Like George, I sometimes thought, ‘it just isn’t worth it.’

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