Seven Reflections on Getting Ripped Off Last Night

Published August 1, 2016 by

The CD Player, DVD Player, Backpack, and Favorite Sweater

Dad showed concern for me this morning when he rolled up the sleeping bag that was laying on the gravel outside our Honda Pilot at 5:45am. I ran out to meet him for our weekly Friday-morning coffee and he said, “I was worried about you. I saw the sleeping bag laying on the ground.” I thought nothing of it at the time. So I piled in the car to go to coffee. One lemon-filled doughnut and maple bar later, Dad drove me home, and I started my morning routine as usual. Two hours later, on my way to my pickup, I noticed it’s seat was pushed forward. Something I never do. And then I thought of the sleeping bag. “Somebody broke in.” As soon as the thought hit me, I scurried to our Honda, opened the door and found our stereo and DVD player ripped out and all our belongings were strewn across the car. I headed back to my pickup and, of course, my stereo amp, backpack with my new shaving kit, and my favorite gray zip-up were all missing.

I don’t know how many of us have experienced this, but it seems to happen to my family every so often. And each time it happens, there lingers an annoying anxiety and anger—anxiety over how much it will cost money to replace these things, and anger because someone violated us and got away with it…again. Furthermore, there’s nothing we can do…or is there?

It’s funny how this anger and anxiety used to consume me for weeks. But I thank the Lord that he has renewed my mind. I’ve now learned to look at these incidents as opportunities. Only hours removed from this event, I’ve been able to process it through the lens of God’s word, and have come away with seven reflections that have given me peace.

Reflection 1: God is Sovereign

This thief did not catch God off guard. His plan was not outside of God’s. “You intended evil against me, but God intended it for good.” (Genesis 50:20) As God is writing his story, I believe he has written a little juncture in it that involves someone visiting the O’Harra household in the middle of the night, breaking into their two vehicles, scattering and stealing all their belongings. It’s interesting to think of the number of things God could have done to prevent this. He could have set off our alarm. He could have placed two police officers on Royal Ave. He could have given the law-breaker a heart attack, and a thousand other things. But he didn’t. He chose to have this man steal and walk away. He intended this to happen. It is in his story.

Reflection 2: God Works For Our Good

This is a good reminder of God’s providence. But it is more a reminder that “for those who love God, all things work together for good…” (Romans 8:28)—including midnight thievery. Because God is sovereign, I know that God is working in it, and his promise is that he’s working it for my good. And because he is working for my good, I have no reason to be anxious. None! God knows exactly what my family needs, and he knows what we don’t. They are his gifts to dispense, and his to take. And whether he gives, or he takes, we have his assurance that it is all for our good.

Reflection 3: This Wasn’t My Stuff

But therein lies another reminder as well. If I perhaps gravitate toward moping over my stolen things, God word reminds me that these weren’t initially my things. “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein.” (Psalm 24:1). I am not the primary title-holder on the Honda. The Lord Jesus is. These things were not my to begin with. They are the Lord’s on loan. But we tend to get territorial with our possessions, because we believe that they are chiefly ours. They aren’t. Yes, I may have worked hard for our Honda, but who gave me hands to work with? Who gave me a job to earn a wage? “Who has made man’s mouth…Is it not I, the Lord?” (Exodus 4:11) Therefore, everything that this person took, he took first and foremost took from the Lord.

Reflection 4: This Person’s Sin is Against God & God Alone

And because these things are God’s things, this person’s sin is not primarily against me. “Against you, and you only, have I sinned…” (Psalm 51:4) This person has transgressed against an infinitely holy God (Isaiah 6:3). And though I may feel outrage at being sinned against, I know that God feels it more, much more—so as to render this person a death sentence (Romans 6:3). It is no small offense to defile God’s image by stealing. And therefore, he needs God’s grace.

Reflection 5: This Person Needs God’s Grace

Experience has taught me that attempts like this for quick cash usually mean one thing—drug addiction. But whatever binds this person’s life, one thing is certain—he’s miserable. Romans 1:24 show us the dejected state of depravity. There is no happiness in sin. And because of this, I cannot help but break for this person. Sure, we’ll have to endure trips to Costco with no Andy Mineo. But what we gain in this trivial loss is a reminder that wherever this person is, he’s a sad soul, standing guilty before God, and in need of his saving grace. “God may perhaps grant them repentance, leading to a knowledge of the truth.” (2 Timothy 2:25)

Reflection 6: Repay Evil with Good

Today, I am learning to pray for this person who only knows this unrest. I’m pursuing to repay him evil with good. Roman 12:20 instructs us: “if your enemy is hungry, feed him.” Of course, the natural impulse of my heart doesn’t direct me here. But God does. Why? Because he’s this way. God tells us to love our enemies because God loves his enemies. After all, he causes “the sun to rise on the evil and the good.” (Matthew 5:45) He is patient with the sinner, “not desiring that any should perish, but that all would come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9). So in praying for this person—who has violated us—I’m discovering a peculiar joy knowing that I’m conforming to my Father’s likeness. (Ephesians 5:1)

Reflection 7: God Will Judge

But you may ask, “Is there any place for anger?” To some degree, yes, I believe so. “You who love the LORD, hate evil!” (Psalm 97:1) To be outraged at evil, is to love what is good. We see this anger displayed in the Psalms and Revelation with the phrase, “How long, O Lord?” (Revelation 6:10) But this anger is always channeled, being expressed with trust in the Lord and his justice, not ours. “Vengeance is mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.” (Romans 12:19) So we can be angry, yet rest at night, knowing, that although this person escaped with a CD player, he will not escape the Judge’s sentence. The Lord will execute justice and his scales will finally be balanced. God will either render to him according to his deeds (Romans 2:7-8), or he will render to him Christ’ deeds and eternal life. “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:21

So should I be anxious? Should I be angry over what we’ve lost? Why should I be? Through this, God has given more joy than a JVC could. These truths and their transforming power are worth far more than a bunch of dumb electronics. This midnight theft is God’s gift to us, and far better than a gray sweater. So, should I count this theft as a loss? No! I should “count it all joy.” (James 1:2)

 

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