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Sunday, August 27, 2017



Living between two towns while making a long distance move has been difficult, trying, frustrating and sometimes very tedious.  Half of our possessions are in one town, the other half in another, and for months, the same was true of the two of us.  Now that Nola and I are together in our new town, we keep the roads between busy with our share of travels, finishing up home projects, packing, and bringing items with us as we wait for the completion of the remodeling project in our new home, and in preparation for putting our other home on the market.  One day, while we were at the new home, the one we are moving from was burglarized and we had some items stolen, including a few family heirlooms.  

It appears to me that the individuals were drug users, looking for quick cash or medicines they could use, based on the kinds of things they took, the areas they searched and the things they left behind.  I suspect they were very disappointed thieves, since much of the kind of things of interest to them were no longer there--prescriptions, coins or cash, jewelry, precious metal type things…you get the idea.  

My wife and I were appalled and troubled by the meticulous way the thieves had gone through so much of the things in the house, opening boxes packed for moving and leaving the contents strewn on the floor, open drawers and doors with the contents spilled out around, and general evidence of hours spent rummaging through things.  They did get away with some things of value, but not nearly what I suspect they were hoping to find.  

In the midst of our working on inventory for police and insurance, I mentioned to my wife that though this was clearly a troubling event, I did not experience it to be the same degree of trauma as divorce.  


Because the individuals, I assume strangers, doing this were troubled folks with an indifferent disregard for others people in their self-serving search for cash for drugs (assuming I am correct).  In contrast, the devastation of divorce was the betrayal by someone known, once loved and trusted, and the loss was not merely material goods, but the dreams and hopes for future plans, as well as an intact home and marriage, along with a dozen other intangible things that gnawed at my soul through that awful experience.  (I realize that for some of my readers, their need to get out of an abusive marriage will mean that their experience of divorce is far different.)

Well, I don’t want to belabor it all, but decided I would like to share with you, my readers, something I shared with my congregation at church today.  As I was wandering around the house, taking photographs, reboxing items and searching through piles, I found my mind wandering to a story I recalled about an earlier believer who had once been robbed.  I thought it was Menno Simons, founder of the Mennonites, but his story was about when some people were destroying his house.  Since I did not have internet at the old home, a friend searched for me, and found the story and quote much as I remembered it, but that it was Matthew Henry instead.  My friend sent it to me in the following format:

Many years ago, Matthew Henry, a well-known Bible scholar, was once robbed of his wallet. Knowing that it was his duty to give thanks in everything, he meditated on this incident and recorded in his diary the following:
Let me be thankful, first, because he never robbed me before; second, because although he took my purse, he did not take my life; third, because although he took all I possessed, it was not much; and fourth, because it was I who was robbed, not I who robbed.
Matthew Henry (1662-1714)
English Non-conformist Bible commentator

While working on the house, I found myself thinking about other things to be thankful for, most of which I shared this morning in worship.  I thought you might find it helpful in some way if I shared those thoughts with you as well.

I am thankful that I had friends and relatives near the old house who saw the damage and were able to help secure the house until I got there.

I am thankful that it did not happen during one of the times my wife was at the house by herself.

I am thankful that neither of us suffered any physical harm.

I am thankful that, although the house was ransacked and rummaged, it was not destructively vandalized.

I am thankful that I have never been in a situation where I felt so desperate that I would consider committing such a crime myself.

I am thankful that I have never experienced the slavery of drugs that would turn a person into such a desperate, self-centered and thoughtless person.

Having just helped serve a breakfast at a nearby homeless shelter, I am thankful that I even have a house and possession that COULD be vandalized or stolen, for many do not.

I am thankful that, although some meaningful things were taken, some of the more sentimental items I have (which are virtually worthless to anyone but me) were not taken or harmed.

I am thankful that I live in a place and time where there is insurance available against such losses, so that the financial loss is mainly in the form of the inevitable deductibles (though, I suppose, some things will be overlooked as we try to discern what was taken).

And I also prayed for the individuals who took the items, because as I wandered around, I saw many scriptures posted around, many symbols of faith, many book titles that beckon toward God, including a communion poster that says, “Jesus of Nazareth requests your presence at a supper to be given in his honor,” which was near the window through which they entered the house.  Who knows whether one of those messages that they encountered over and again will be the very instrument that one day works into their hearts and souls to lead them to repentance and a personal relationship with Christ, resulting in their acceptance into heaven when they die.  

As I recall learning during my divorce, some things in life are more important than others, and really, the things we surround ourselves with are really “just stuff,” not the essence of what matters in life.  

Finally, I would especially add, as I watch the news in the last few days, I find myself having much to be thankful for when I see the devastation so many in Texas are experience from the fury of Hurricane Harvey.  Please join me in prayer for all of Texas, the victims and those that are suffering losses in this time.  In comparison, my wife and I are richly blessed, and have little to complain about.  

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