Saturday, May 20, 2017

Thank You, Savannah

As a 28-year old police detective, I thought I had seen it all until I was handed the homicide case of an 18-month old little girl named Savannah. I will never forget her name because God used her death to bring me life.

Savannah was murdered by the drunken, live-in boyfriend of her mother. A single punch to her tender midsection injured her little body beyond repair. I was low on the totem pole of seniority in the Detective Bureau, so I was stationed in the morgue until the Coroner could arrive to protect the evidence chain of custody. Savannah’s body had become a piece of evidence that would be used to gain a conviction in the trial.

When I arrived at the morgue, Savannah’s body lay atop a stainless steel examination table. The room itself was stainless steel to allow easy cleanup from the gruesome but necessary procedures required during an autopsy. Savannah was fully wrapped from head to toe in a white cloth. Even her face was covered. She looked like a miniature version of Lazarus lying in a closed tomb awaiting the command of Jesus to come forth.

For the next 8 hours, it would be just Savannah and me together in the numbing silence of a stainless steel tomb.  Together we waited for the arrival of the Medical Examiner who would perform the autopsy.

At the time of this incident, God had been working on my heart to return to Him. Jan and I were a young couple who met in Bible college and eventually got married but had walked away from fellowship and the things of God. I was ripe for His touch.

As the hours stretched on, I could not take my eyes off of the tightly wrapped body of Savannah. My emotions began to overcome my professional police demeanor. Our daughter, Anna, was the same age as Savannah. I began to weep over her body knowing she would never see life and feel love or laugh again. I even laid my hands on her body and asked God to return her breath. This was a real stretch for a young Baptist kid who had not yet encountered the power of God. I was desperate to see life visit this cold, dead place.

At the end of my experience in the morgue, I walked out of the facility like I was experiencing a resurrection from a place of personal entombment. Within weeks, I would have an encounter with God that would dramatically change the direction of my life and would bring me to this moment typing these words.

All the death that surrounds us and seems to entomb us in its grief is never greater than the plan of God for our lives. God used an infant murder victim to strip away all my defenses to reveal my needy heart and set me up for a life-changing encounter with Him. Savannah’s life looked like such a waste if you did not know that in her death, God used her murder to help a young detective find his way back home to His heart. With God, nothing is ever wasted, not even death. God will cause all our suffering and sorrow to work things out for a higher good that even the deepest of tragedies can never entomb forever.

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