Fugitive From God

We can run, but we cannot hide.

by Ed Crook as told to Muriel Larson

“There’s been a burglary,” the police sergeant grunted. “About an hour ago, three men broke into a house near the Beltway, and they got away. Maybe the dogs can track them down.”

I jumped into my cruiser with Major, my German shepherd. This was merely a routine checkout for me. As a policeman with the K-9 Corps of the Montgomery County Police Department, Maryland, I tracked down criminals. I didn’t know that the three men we would be tracking were dangerous criminals with prison records. I didn’t know how close I would come to death that night, nor that those men weren’t the only ones on the run.

Checkout

When we got there, Major and I ran a partial track that ended at the Beltway, the superhighway that circles Washington, D.C. “Come on, Major,” I said, “let’s go back to the car. We’ll drive down the Beltway and see what we can see.”

I cruised about two miles, looking carefully for anything suspicious. Near the next exit I noticed a man walking by the road. I stopped my car, got out, and walked toward him. “We’re looking for three men who burglarized a house,” I told him.

He shrugged. “I’m just out for a walk.”

“Well, you’d better get in the car with me,” I said. “We’ll go back to the scene of the burglary, and I’ll check you out.”

Close call

As soon as we got back to the victim’s house, detectives took the man to the Sulphur Springs police station. About an hour later, I received a call to come over.

As I walked in, the police sergeant said, “That guy you picked up was identified as the man seen running from the house that was burglarized.” He pointed to a gun on his desk. “Have you ever seen this before?” I shook my head.

“Well, two girls who watched you pull up to that guy saw him throw this gun into the bushes,” he said. “He’s in the interrogation room now.”

I went in to talk to the man. “I just saw the gun you threw away when I drove up by you. What were you planning to do with it?”

“As you got out of your car, I was going to shoot you,” he answered.

Serious thoughts

For the rest of the night, I couldn’t get that close call off my mind. It made me think about my spiritual life. I had been running from God a long time. I had made a commitment to Jesus Christ at a Christian camp when I was fourteen years old. God saved me just in time, for I had belonged to a wild crowd and was on my way to becoming a juvenile delinquent. Although I started attending church regularly, I didn’t hear preaching from the Bible there as I had at camp, so I slid back into my former way of life.

When I was seventeen, my father became very ill. “God,” I prayed, “if You will let him live, I’ll do anything You want me to.” I knew God wanted me to do something special for Him: preach.

Two days later, my dad died. “Why did you allow this, God?” I cried.

I had to quit school to help my mother and sister make ends meet. Angry at God, I began practicing a wild lifestyle. But when I was twenty-one, I remembered God’s call to preach and decided to quit my wild behavior.

Broken promise

I made three applications: one to a Bible college and two to police departments in the Washington, D.C. area. “The first one I hear from, God, I’ll take as Your will,” I promised.

I heard first from the Bible college and was accepted. Two weeks later, the Montgomery County Police Department called me. I broke my promise to God and went to work for the county police. I stayed with it nine years — six years with a “beat” car and three years with the K-9 Corps. I spent four months in extensive training with Major. He learned to obey only my commands.

During those years, I had other narrow escapes. One night I chased a guy in a stolen car up to one hundred miles an hour. The guy suddenly swerved off the main road, and I followed him. Just then my wheel hit the curb, and the whole right side of the car swung completely off the ground. When it came down, I found my partner sitting in my lap. It was a miracle the car hadn’t flipped. We could have been killed!

Persistent Christian

I married Pauline when I was twenty-five. As a Christian, she faithfully attended church and sometimes got me to go with her. The minister of music visited me several times a week. Even though we lived ten miles from the church, he kept coming for four years. Often I hid from him. Then he’d leave his business card, writing on it “Sorry I missed you,” with a Bible verse.

Those Bible verses really got to me. Whenever the minister did catch me at home, he’d talk to me about getting right with God.

Invitation

Then one Saturday night after my close call with the burglar, I was preparing to go on duty when the pastor called me. “Ed,” he said, “I want you to come to church tomorrow morning and get your life right with God.”

“Listen, pastor,” I answered, “I know God. I’m OK.”

“That may be, but I want you to get your life straightened out. Pray about it, will you?” I agreed to.

Public confession

When I got off duty that morning at 5 a.m., I did pray as I’d promised. “God,” I said, “if You will help me walk that aisle without crying, I’ll do it.”

On the first verse of the invitation hymn, I walked down the aisle to the altar. “I’ve just come down for the first time to publicly confess Jesus Christ as my Savior,” I told the pastor. What joy and peace came over me!

When the pastor’s wife came to shake my hand, she said, “Ed, you have no idea how many people have been praying for you these four years!”

Answering the call

I started attending church regularly and was thrilled with it. How good to hear the Bible! But what an ache in my heart because of the precious time I had wasted. I was twenty-nine and married with two children. Was it too late for me to obey God’s call to preach?

An evangelist came to our church and told how he had become a preacher when he was twenty-nine. Thanks to his encouragement, I finally answered God’s call.

Pauline and I sold our home and moved, and I started studying for the ministry. It wasn’t easy going from a large income to a small one. Pauline and I worked sixty hours a week as night janitors, but God saw us through. I eventually became pastor of a three hundred-member church.

I had been a fugitive from God all those years, but thanks to His pursuit, I’m doing what He wants me to do. My special Bible verse says, “Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!” (1 Corinthians 9:16, NIV). Doing this, I can make a difference in another fugitive’s life.