“WHY?” was the single-word lead headline in the Sports page of Sunday’s Kansas City Star. This past week-end the Kansas City community was rocked by the murder-suicide involving Jovan Belcher, a starting linebacker on the Chief’s football team.
If the story has eluded you, Belcher fatally shot his girl-friend Kasandra Perkins, while his mother and 3-month old daughter, were in the next room. He then drove to Arrowhead Stadium, thanked his Coach, Romeo Crennel, and General Manager, Scott Pioli, for all they had done for him. Turned. Walked away. Then ended his life.
Teammates, coaches, family, friends and sports writers have all expressed their disbelief. Clearly those closest to him are shaken. Repeatedly this story has been described as shocking. Senseless. And tragic.
Predictably many have rushed to assume answers or assign blame. Respected sportscaster, Bob Costas, used the occasion at half-time on Sunday Night Football to call for more gun control. There has been reports of possible brain damage. Prescription drug misuse. Alcohol abuse. And a domestic argument that spun out of control.
One thing we do know is that we will never know. Not for sure. The Bible says, “For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? (1 Cor 2:11). And there are few answers that will satisfy us.
I do not wish to be insensitive. Generalize on specifics. Or play amateur psychiatrist. Nor is it my prerogative to pass judgment. Because each situation is different and unique. Many of us have been touched by family, friends or brethren who have ended their own lives. It is painful. Perplexing. And traumatic. Innocent people are hurt. Family. Friends. Neighbors. In this case, Crennel and Pioli’s life will never be the same. As well as Belcher’s teammates. And what about an innocent and orphaned three-month old baby girl?
But I am reminded of these facts about man’s nature as the Creator made him. We are ultimately responsible to God for our own actions (2 Cor 5:10). To blame guns, football, or head injuries, side-steps the cold, hard fact that this man committed a crime on another person as well as himself.
Furthermore, the heart of a person is more important than their actions. By all accounts Jovan Belcher distinguished himself in college, earning his B.A. in 3 ½ years while starting in all 45 games. For the Kansas City Chiefs, Belcher had started in 59 consecutive games since his signing in 2009. He was active in the community. And he was respected by those who knew him as a hard worker. Enthusiastic. Just an “all around good guy.”
Yet, there was something wrong. Terribly wrong. The prophet Jeremiah was right when he wrote, “The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it? “ (Jer 17:9). Unchecked, unguarded and unprotected, the heart can ponder evil thoughts. Devise devious plans. Act upon unimaginable impulses.
And so the wise man warns us, “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life” (Prov 4:23, NIV).
I also was struck by the comments of starting Quarterback, Brady Quinn, who played the best game of his professional career Sunday and led the Chief’s to an emotional and improbable victory over the Carolina Panthers. In the post game interview he reflected, “The one thing people can hopefully try to take away, I guess, is the relationships they have with people. I know when it happened, I was sitting and, in my head, thinking what I could have done differently.” Then Quinn asked two thought-provoking questions: “When you ask someone how they are doing, do you really mean it? When you answer someone back how you are doing, are you really telling the truth?”
Indeed. Suppose we all should work a little harder at obeying Galatians 6:2? “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”
And one last thought. This comes from a very well written column by Sam Mellinger in Sunday’s KC Star. “Those of us left to grapple with what’s occurred should hug our children a little tighter today. Be more considerate of our spouses. And confront the cold reality that dysfunction gone unchecked can ruin lives.”
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman