It is every parent’s worst nightmare. 11-year-old Jaycee Lee Dugard was kidnapped from the school bus stop 18 years ago in near her home on the California/Nevada boarder, in full view of her father, who was on his way to pick her up and walk her home. The kidnapper, who we now know to be Phillip Garrido was a convicted sex offender in Nevada, who had relocated to northern California, where he abducted Jaycee one day after school just out of reach of her father. Despite the efforts of local law enforcement at the time, Garrido escaped with Jaycee and managed, along with his wife’s help, to keep her hidden for 18 years.
During that time he made her his sex slave, impregnating her not once, but two times, the first time when she was just 14 years old. He and his wife kept Jaycee and her daughters prisoners in the backyard of their home (a backyard he police describe a series of mazes and enclosures – ” a backyard within a backyard”), never allowing them to go to school, the doctor, or anywhere else where they’d be in public view.
Situations like these are where my faith in the Living God is tested and tried. There is as much pain and heartbreak in this story as there is relief and rejoicing. On one hand, there is gratitude for the return of a kidnapped child. Many kidnap cases end with the victim’s murder. On the other hand, a young girl, now a woman, had 18 years of her life, her childhood, her innocence, her virginity, her right to an education and socialization with family and peers stolen from her by a man, who now conveniently claims to be a Christian. Jaycee missed out on things that most tweens and teens take for granted – participating in sports, school dances, braces, medical care. She was forced to bear two children while being held captive without the benefit of even a dulah, let alone a doctor. I am grateful that she is not dead – that her captors did not murder her physically. But I weep bitter tears for the little girl, who had a life of potentially beautiful childhood experiences ripped from her grasp by two godless victimizers.
While her abductors/captors were caught, it appears from many reports that law enforcement over the 18 years of Jaycee’s captivity failed at least twice to thoroughly investigate her abductors. Anything beyond a cursory glance of the Garrido’s property would have exposed a house that was a “chamber of horrors” and a backyard tent city, hiding a young female and her two children.
I won’t even speculate on the mixed and damaged emotions her parents and support community must be feeling right now.
I’ll be wrestling with God over this one for a good while. I have asked him, “Why, Lord?” I know God did not cause Jaycee’s experience to happen. But he did allow it to happen. I have so many questions for him about this situation – and others like it. Many of my questions may never receive answers. Even if God did choose to answer me, my finite brain would simply expire attempting to take in, let alone process his reasons. Also – God answers to no one. He does not “owe” me or anyone answers for the “why’s” of this world. In his grace, however, he does provide comfort, peace, and a modicum for all the afflicted. So for all of my questions, I will have to do what I always do, what the word tells us to do daily – seek God’s face – period. From my study of who God has revealed himself to be in the bible, I am confident of the following:
God loves Jaycee Lee Dugard deeply, grieves over her experience, and desires to comfort and heal her. Luke 4:17-21,
God will hold the Gillards accountable for their heinous sin. Matthew 18:6, Luke 17:2
As much as God hates the Gillards’ sin, He does not hate the Gillards. Proverbs 6:18-18, 2 Peter 3:9
Our hating the Gillards for the evil they have committed will serve no purpose but to separate us from God, which is what the enemy wants. Leviticus 19:17-18, Ephesians 6:11-13, 1 John 4:20, John 10:10
What the enemy meant for evil, God can and will use for good. Romans 8:28
Our prayers for Jaycee, her family, and even the Gillards matter. Isaiah 65:24, James 5:16, John14:13
We do not get to demand an answer from God for this tragedy. Job 38, Isaiah 40:13.
We can, however, humbly ask him to help us understand. James 1:5
God did not abandon Jaycee. He was present with her. Psalm 23:4-6
One thing Jaycee’s ordeal re-confirms for me is just how depraved the human heart can be. I am seldom surprised by anything that I hear anymore. The truth is, apart from God, every human being is capable of the most sickening, vile, detestable, hateful behavior. Our sin – all sin – is merely an extension of our fallen nature. To that end, none of us is any better than another. We all need Jesus – including the Girrados. Thankfully, God does not hold grudges as I am apt to do. I genuinely wish I were able to pray for the Girrados. I confess to you that at this moment, I cannot. I am not proud of that fact. I will not stay here. But for right now, this is where I am. It is my understanding that they have been labeled as “religious zealots” of some sort. I can say with confidence, that no one who truly loves the Lord, could have committed a crime as heinous as theirs. Yeah – today I ain’t got it for them. But thankfully God does. There is not one sin that Jesus’ death does not cover. If the Girrados truly repent, God promises to forgive them, even no one else does.
Today I can only mourn for Jaycee’s loss and that of her parents, and express my gratitude and relief that she was not held one day longer. God bless the suspicious parole officer who demanded a face-to-face with Garrido and his wife, after spotting the former with his two children by Jaycee on the U C Berkeley campus. Had this officer been any less diligent, who knows what could have become of Jaycee Lee Dugard and her children? Although hers may be a bittersweet homecoming, it is a homecoming nonetheless and for that I can be grateful to God.
When I cannot wrap my mind around circumstances that break my heart, I must choose to trust God’s character. I know him intimately. He is love itself, full of compassion, and mercy. He was, is, and always will be the same. He has comforted my loved ones and me through our personal tragedies. He will comfort and heal Jaycee and her family as much as they choose to let him. While this evil situation shocked us all, it was never a surprise to God. He knew before the foundations of the earth were laid what lay ahead for Jaycee Lee Dugard. He was and is already at work in her life. I trust him to redeem this entire situation his way and in his time. If you can’t say that now and mean it, I hope that one day you will be able to do so. In the meantime, please pray for this young woman and her family. And yes, if you are able, please pray for the Garridos, too.
Be blessed, Family.
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