Dec 24, 2007

A Stolen Stereo and the Real Thief in the Night

Well, after a long and stressful semester, a J-term with even more coming up, and an assortment of personal burdens, which we all carry… I am kinda worn out. My mom is here for Christmas and it is truly a blessing to be able to see her and spend time with her once again. Anyway, since we both talk so much, we have not gotten much rest since she has been here and I was really looking forward to sleeping in this morning and just having a restful day. At around 8:00 this morning, the phone rang and one of my friends informed me that he noticed my car had been broken into. Unfortunately, he was right. Early this morning someone busted out my passenger-side window, took a crowbar or something to my dash and stole my stereo, the control unit for the heat / Air, and my cd’s (which are actually dummy copies… joke’s on him). Whoever did this was quite thorough as they went through the entire rest of the car searching for anything of value (boy did they pick the wrong car :) and even left the light on for me. Two hours after I was informed, the police reports were filed and I was able to go about my day.

As I have discussed so many times in the past, there is a lesson to be learned in any and every event of life. Over and over in the scriptures we are told to seek wisdom and that we do well to gain it and that if we ask, it will be granted. This thought hit me a long time ago: the wisest man that has ever lived took instruction from a wall (Prov 24:30-34), an inanimate object, something devoid of reason. If he can learn from a wall, wise has he was, I can certainly learn from people and situations. Thus, I must ask myself what is to be gained by this? What lesson can I learn? What is actually going on here?

Well, let me say right away that I am not intelligent or mature enough to claim to know exactly what is going on or how God is ultimately glorified in a broke student having his car broken into and things stolen. However, if we ask, God will not withhold a measure of wisdom and understanding (James 1:5). Though this only happened a few hours ago, there are a number of lessons the Lord is already teaching me through this situation, several of which are things that we all know, but we must be continually reminded of, lest we fall into complacency.

Well, the very first thing that came to my mind was that somehow, this brings glory and honor to Christ. Though I may not be able to see how, I know that it does. Also, the simple fact is that God was not surprised by this. He is not up in heaven going, “oh, poor Aaron, I wish I had seen this coming.” No, NOT AT ALL!!! Thus, since God is in total and absolute control, He decreed that this happen for one reason or another. Since that is the case, this is good for me and comes directly from my loving father, though at the hands of evil powers and men. The second thing that came to my mind is that this is all God’s stuff anyway. If He wants it back, who am I to argue? I have nothing and I am nothing, I am entirely His. Therefore, ALL is grace upon grace.

Next, my thoughts turned to the individual (or individuals) that did this. As soon as I got back in, my mom was already praying for them, as was I. I began to think how sad it was that someone would feel that they have to resort to this type of thing. Unfortunately, it is far too common this time of year. Whoever this was probably “needed” the money and in desperation, felt they had no other choice (or they are habitually this way). There are a number of lessons even within this thought. The first is a reminder to myself to watch my life and guard my soul against all sin. The saddest thing about this situation to me is the self-deception involved. This guy is self-deceived, as we all are in our sin. He probably thinks that he got away with it and that no one will ever know. Yet this could not be further from the truth. God is watching and knows exactly who did this, where they are, and, forget the ID card, even the number of hairs on their head! Thus, they may never face legal punishment in this life (and probably won’t), but that does not mean that they will not reap what they sow. Their recompense will return upon their own head in this life and (apart from Christ) in the judgment to come. Further, this sin was not against me, but against God, thus their punishment will be severe. This is like in the movies where some cute little critter is standing in place, waving all happy at the camera and the audience can see an enormous tidal wave getting ready to crash down upon the unsuspecting little guy. My heart breaks for this person!!!

The next lesson is just another reminder of the effects of sin. This earth was created good and then sin entered. Since that time, the world is “tooth and claw,” full of all sorts of “unnatural” violence. This is demonstrated in a number of ways in this situation. The most obvious one to me is that herein you have the poor feeding upon the poor (societally speaking, for in truth, as an American, I am quite rich). Also, directly related to this, is that this individual came under the cover of darkness, as a thief who took, with extreme violence, thoroughly searching the car for anything of value. I went to bed last night anticipating the day, assuming that things would remain as they have been. I planned to sleep in, to wake up at some point, and to enjoy the day. I assumed that my car would be ok and that I would not have an enormous hole in the middle of my dash that may well be irreparable. I was wrong and caught quite off-guard. In a moment’s time, all of these plans changed, violence had come about. I am sure you can see where I am going with this, nevertheless, let me explain. In the same way, men will be marrying and giving in marriage, going about their normal routines following their own assumed plans and Christ will break in like a thief in the night (misc including Matt 24). That day will come upon us so suddenly that it will be upon us before we even realize it has come and it will overtake us in a moment. He will also come with extreme violence, the likes of which this world has never seen. In the final judgment, He will thoroughly search out those that are His, separating the wheat from the chaff, the sheep from the goats, utterly destroying all that oppose Him… with the full measure of God’s wrath. Herein is also the true meaning of Christmas. God invaded the earth in the person of Christ. He came “under the radar” so to speak (despite announcing it). His Kingdom rose, grew, and continues to grow right in the midst of this evil world. Christ did not come to bring peace, but the sword. One day, while the earth is sleeping, this same Jesus will come suddenly, ultimately leading to a final violent threshing of all evil. Christmas is not just about the cute baby Jesus that we love to sing about… no, Christmas is also Normandy, D-day, in which the first of the final assault began (also the “already-not-yet" of our theology). The coming of Christ is the realized hope of the saved and the sure end of the lost (the stone of stumbling and the rock of offense - Rom 9:33).

Herein is also the doctrine of total depravity. That someone would do things such as these is proof enough. This event was not random or unplanned from the perspective of the individual. It was premeditated, deliberate, and carried out with violence. Every aspect of our lives have been touched and marred by sin including our thought processes, hearts, wills, and so on. Yet, God demonstrates His grace in that we are not as wicked as we could be. This person was not destroying property just for the sake of destroying it. No, this individual had a purpose (an evil one), but did not act out of that purpose. He did not key my car, slash my tires, plant C-4 (that I know of), throw hand grenades at it, or send an F-14 after it. Further, he did not injure anyone or do anything else beyond his original evil intent. Thus, God’s grace abounds in preventing us all from being as wicked as we could be (and in that, I rejoice).

After dealing with these things this morning, I went to have my morning devotional time. My normal method for reading is to systematically loop through the Old Testament in the mornings and the New Testament in the evenings, piece by piece. This morning happened to be the first morning of another loop through the Old Testament. Thus, my reading coincides with the recent revival in my own spiritual life. I am starting over again, there is a new beginning, a Genesis. Inherent in any new beginning is that Satan wants to destroy what God has decreed that He will build. Inherent in this, is God’s promise of help through the One who is to come, and who is already at work in my life (Ps 127:1). Thus, Satan is going to try to do anything he can to try to defeat me, get me down, or get me off focus. It is therefore no real surprise that so many burdens exist in my life right now and that something like this has happened on top of them… it should not surprise us! Folks, I know you know it, but Satan HATES Christ’s children!!! He wants nothing more than to ruin our lives and the Name we bear. We do a pretty good job of messing up on our own, but let us never forget that we are in a spiritual war, with real spiritual enemies. One of my favorite sayings is that “the devil is on a leash and God is pulling his chain!” If we understand these things, the devil is actually kinda funny (at least in a pitiful sort of way). I say it is kinda funny because Satan is actually dumb enough to think that something this trivial, in light of the grand scheme, is going to get us down and prevent the Lord’s work in our lives! My friends, if we keep our eyes where they ought to be, we can truly laugh at his failed attempts!!! On the other hand, let us never forget how serious this war is. Unfortunately, all too often, our foolishness is greater than his… we do not keep our focus and what should be laughable becomes lamentable.

In the end, I would ask that you pray for this individual (or these individuals). You never know how God will use something like this in the other person’s life. Perhaps the individual will use the money to buy Christmas gifts for his children or “other.” Apart from a seared conscience, this will serve as a testimony of guilt and conviction to the individual. I could think of a number of other possibilities of how this could be used, but the point is, we never know how God will use things. I would truly rejoice if somehow God used this to bring someone unto himself. If God wills, I look forward to laughing at Satan and his tactics, with this thief in heaven (for I too was a thief, a murderer, an adulterer, etc (1 Cor 6:9-11). Certainly last, but please also pray for me that I can continue to laugh instead of lament (in all of life). Pray that I would remain strong in the Lord and not be deceived, for I realize all too well that am not above becoming angry, or embittered, or losing focus. I am a frail human being and I know it. Finally, please pray that the Lord would continue to be SO good to me!!! --1 Cor 10:12, Heb 3

Hey guys, just a quick update… the Lord is good, I was at least able to find replacement controls for the ac / heat. Of course the cage that the controls are supposed to attach to is not there… so now I am picturing myself on some hypothetical future date with an as yet unknown lady where the controls fall on the floor and hit her foot and I have to say, “I am so sorry that happened… if you will hand the controls to me, I’ll turn the heat back on” :) Yeah, my car is officially “ghetto-fabulous.”


ordi said...

hey bro! I fully agree with you there! Satan IS a ridiculous loser! thanks for sharing! but I'm sorry to hear that your radio got stolen and your car messed up :/ dang... if not even cars like yours keep thieves away, what DOES?

i pray that this guy really gets convicted by the Spirit and finds the LORD... may Satan go nuts because a tool he used turned into a weapon against himself!

it's awesome to serve a holy and perfect God! a mighty, yes ALMIGHTY God! :) I pray that this very God may bless you and restore unto you all that you've lost and more. remember: a life with God is a life in abundance! if not in material posessions, then definitely in lessons learned and LOVE earned! :)

God bless you, bro!

A-Hawk said...

Ha ha... thanks for the encouragement and I totally agree. Thanks bro!

A-Hawk said...

Just thought of another huge praise with this situation (actually several, but I’ll only share this one). I am so thankful to God that my tools were not in the car. For those that don’t know, I am an electrician and my hand tools are in my car a good bit of the time. For “some reason” I took them out about a week ago. Had they been in there, I would be out of work!

ordi said...

or pretty darned broke for having to buy them all anew! but hey, isn't it awesome how God provides even in the roughest of times? I'm glad the damage was thus "limited" to the car and the stereo only.. will the insurance not cover for parts of the damage, though?

A-Hawk said...

Well, I simply couldn’t buy them again right now and yes, God’s grace and provision are overwhelming, even in the midst of one of the craziest points in my life. As to insurance… no, in keeping with being broke, I only have liability. The radio isn’t really anything, though I will miss it. The simple truth though, is that the car is not worth the money it will cost to repair it (not to mention not having it). Don’t get me wrong, I am content with my little car and very thankful for it, but it is not worth very much. Thus, I will probably just have to deal with it “as is” with no heat /ac/ defrost. I’ve been in much worse positions before, so, though it is not what I would desire, it is not really such a big deal. This is my lot, and God is very good!

Phil 4:11-12 comes to mind… I dare not say that I have mastered this principle, but I have learned something about it over the years.

“I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.” Philippians 4:11-12

A-Hawk said...

Hey guys... just letting you know I added an update