Soul Keeper – What Went Wrong?

robert-youngA few Sunday’s ago I reminded everyone that YOU are the keeper of your OWN Soul.  Not the church, not your LifeGroup, only you are responsible for your own spiritual growth.  We live in a time like no other in Christianity to grow in our relationship with Christ.  The church, LifeGroups, the internet, etc… are all just tools to assist us in our spiritual relationship with God. But the burden lies on us to use them – to be the keeper of our own soul.

Little did I know, not long after that message on Sunday, that it would become evident how true that was/is – we are responsible for our own souls ( idea from Soul Keeper by John Ortberg).

I received some news that left me wondering, “What went wrong?”

The news involved a once good friend of mine Robert Young – that’s his picture at the beginning of this post. But before the news, let me tell you about Robert…

Robert and his family began attending the church I was serving at the time.  He was very soft spoken and uber polite.  In fact his entire family were just one of those families all minister’s want in their church.  Over the years he and his family would become an important part serving on multiple teams. They would do anything asked of them. Seriously a blue ribbon family.

But somewhere something went wrong years later after they left the church to attend one much closer to their home. I received the news that a divorce had taken place. I would see Robert here and there and he still seemed to be the good spirited, good natured guy I had always known.

Now to the news…

Originally I received news that he had committed suicide.  Upon hearing the news I immediately searched the internet but found nothing.  This seemed right.  I couldn’t imagine Robert doing that, or really anything bad at all.  But then I found this article:

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Huntsville Police have identified the man shot by officers early Saturday morning, September 17 at a Marathon gas station.

The man shot was Robert Young, age 45 of Huntsville.  He died on the scene.

The officers involved are on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation and Incident Review Board.

According to Lt. Stacy Bates, Huntsville Police spokesperson, officers were called to the Marathon station at 8212 Bailey Cove Road at approximately 3 a.m. Saturday.  Two officers arrived simultaneously and discovered it was a burglary in-progress.  Police saw broken glass in front of the store and spotted a male inside.

The officers gave the man verbal commands, but he began shouting, cursing, and throwing items from inside the store.  Officers said the man then ran out the front door and pointed what looked like pistols at the officers.

Police fired at him, striking him multiple times.  Officers determined the weapons were replicas of a Smith & Wesson M&P pistol and a Beretta 92 pistol.

No officers were hurt.

Investigators are reviewing body cam footage and surveillance footage from the store. An Incident Review Board is tentatively scheduled for Friday, September 23.

The two officers involved will remain on administrative leave pending the findings of the Incident Review Board.

While I have no idea what went wrong in Robert’s life, his mental state or anything else, it served as a reminder how frail life is and can become.  It was also a reminder how important it is for us to take responsibility of ourselves and our spiritual growth.  To take care of ourselves. To be our own Soul Keepers.

I wasn’t the only one to know Robert as a kind person before this tragedy and whatever took place in the years we lost touch.

Here is what the obit had to say:

From an early age, Robert displayed a heart for helping others and an earnest love for God, characteristics that would follow him throughout his life. Robert was active as a Boy Scout while growing up in Fayetteville, ultimately achieving the prestigious rank of Eagle Scout in 1985. A 1989 graduate of Lincoln County High School, he began studying Shorei Goju Karate in the mid 80s. He received his Shodan (first-degree black belt) from Sensei Garry Hampton in 2008. He continued training in Trias Karate until his passing. Robert was a member of Theta Xi fraternity while attending Georgia Tech University in Atlanta, and he earned a bachelor’s degree in computer science from the University of Alabama in Huntsville. He was employed as a software engineer, most recently at Tec-Masters, Inc., in Huntsville. Robert’s desire to serve his fellow man was demonstrated by his previous service as a member of the Lincoln County Sheriff’s posse and as a deacon at Washington Street church of Christ. 

While I know that there were so many variables at play that we will never know, it’s still a sad turn of events for the Robert that I knew years ago.

Just leaves me with two thoughts:

  1.  What went wrong?
  2. We are the keeper of our own souls