Rich Mullins is one of my favorite Christian artists. In one of his last concerts, he tells the story of one of his profs, and how the prof warned them that most everything they’d learned at seminary would be forgotten. But he admonished them with this. He reminded them that “If God chooses to speak through you, don’t think too highly of yourself. After all, God spoke to Balaam through his ass, and he’s been using asses ever since!”

So with that in mind, here we go.

I gave an author’s copy of The Cross and the Badge to a friend. His son, fresh out of prison, read it. I figured he’d loathe it and the characters. After all, criminals aren’t exactly in love with cops. We put them in prison and sometimes we didn’t treat them well while doing so. Turns out he loved it. There wasn’t a lot of difference between his pain and anguish and what Will Diaz goes through.

The part that impressed him was a section where I discuss a tragic accident that occurred in our county. Two young and promising your men were killed in the accident. Check it out here.

I spent years trying to figure out what good could possibly come of such an event. While I was writing it, the answer came. For those of you unfamiliar with the series, a lot of what happens in the book really happened. I put a lot of the pain, hurt, and incidents into the mouth and life of someone I made up.

Anyway, in the book, Will’s counselor and friend asks a very important question. “Were you the same person afterwards?”

Since that story is very true, I had to admit the answer was “no.”

That night made me the police officer I would become. That night turned me into a leader. Without it, I’d never have led combat troops, and I would probably not have lasted much longer as a police officer. If I had been a police officer, or followed that path into the MPs, there’s dozens of people who are alive today who might not be. Out of the deaths that occured that night came the strength to save dozens.

Anyway, he read it and sat down trying to figure out what good had come out of the life he’d led and the prison time he’d endured. He could start pointing to being more compassionate, and becoming a man who wanted to do the right thing. He’d gotten his education and most importantly, found Jesus through it all.

He admitted that he still didn’t understand it all, but would in good time.

I reckon as a writer, that’s the best we can aspire to.