One of the great turn-offs for me personally is a faux christianity that suggests faith is an unwavering denial of reality. “It’s a beautiful day!” when it’s a miserable cold rainy one. “I’m feeling great” when in fact you are suffering with a migraine and can’t muster the energy to play with your kids. Scripture never instructs us to pretend, in fact that is the antithesis of saving, sincere faith. The religious hypocrites pretend. We come to God as we are, for we’re never anything else in His eyes – and the kicker, we’re not loved less for being real.
Deb and I are grieving. Yesterday morning we awoke to yet another discouraging and maddening break-in while we were sleeping. Same window broken into. Both Deb and I’s computers, and over $700 in cash, gone. The cameras this time, were not powered on – we had unplugged them weeks earlier as they killed our internet bandwidth and we had believed the previous thief, Pasha, had been both caught and sentenced (we had gone to court and he was put on probation). Small problem, Pasha is part of a network of thieves.. nice way of saying a gang.
Each of the items taken are painful losses. My work and ministry laptop, which I use for travel, club 180 and teaching abroad – next week I’m scheduled to share multiple times in Minsk. Deb’s laptop was actually a gift from my dad, his used laptop a replacement for Deb’s previously stolen laptop last year. She studies Russian daily on that laptop and has been really pressing in. The cash, a crazy amount of $700 in it from returning the previous day a coffee machine in Kiev (that didn’t work) for a 2nd Cafe location (Crossroads contribution) we have been quietly working on as well as trip money for Minsk.
Bronwyn also had money stolen. She had been saving from our Cafe work (she gets paid $2/hr), and had been accumulating for Minsk as well – $120 in total, a great deal in her world.
If you’ve ever had stuff stolen, you know it’s not really the stuff that hits you deep inside. It’s the feeling of being violated – of something ‘not right’, an injustice that is difficult to explain. While some have suggested we are too trusting, naive, and even deserved it (this being our 4th noted break in in past 2yrs), it doesn’t erase the feelings. You feel stupid for not getting a dog (we’ve been wrestling with this for several months as our previous experience was terrible), for not fixing the lock on the window (it locks but the thieves can break it), for not installing a better alarm system, for leaving so much money in your wallet, for leaving the cameras off.. nothing removes the feelings of violation and anger.
We’ve had friends graciously offer to help replace items, send money, all incredible acts of kindness – but the replacement of items doesn’t erase the grief over yet another stranger in our home while we sleep. We take our safety and security for granted – we live in an evil, selfish world, and that is reality no matter how we embrace the justice and goodness of God.
The police have lists of names. We are putting pressure on Pasha to find the culprits because all signs point to him (enough to put a kid on probation in big trouble again). We have 4-5 police guys going in various directions, after so many break-ins I have no patience for the insanity of bureaucracy and have taken more of a leadership approach to their process. Call me Columbo. However, we really would just like our stuff back vs being some vigilante justice crime fighters.
Tuesday we are installing an outdoor motion detection system which will text us and deter.
Thank you for the kind words of encouragement on facebook and messenger. This time it’s interesting – we are just ‘feeling our feelings’. Where other times we’ve really tried to stay positive and encourage one another, this time we’re just plain tired and angry. Angry with ourselves, but a deeper anger over sin and it’s complete disregard for others – we aren’t in despair, but in no race to get ‘happy’ because that is more ‘Christian’. I am hopeful that something is going to turn up, but not as anxious about it like the previous times.
For the record, over the past 2yrs we’ve had the following stolen, and at least 4 break-ins, 3 of which were while we were home and sleeping:
- Canon T3i Camera
- 5 laptops
- $1800 in Cash
- Xbox (this was returned)
- 2 ipods
- All of our kids bikes (except Abbeys, we have one bike left)
- All kinds of outdoor stuff, gas cans, sports equipment..
We leave for Minsk early Friday morning, for weekend of worship and prayer with young people. This adds to our intensity and burden to see a real lasting generational change – it’s personal! 🙂 Sunday I’ll be sharing 3 times to different groups including a larger group of young people, many who are only just starting to seek God. I suspect the enemy inspires folks to do acts of evil at certain times, and God’s people must dig in and be filled with His Spirit, this is my prayer right now. If you would like to pray for us, please pray with us – that we would ‘get back up’ from this stronger and more resilient, that we would bring sincere love and the presence of God would encourage many next week. Also pray our stuff comes back!
It’s all too easy to say, “God is good, He’s in charge, He knows what’s going on”, but another to actively come with your real feelings in times of hurt or anger, and work it out in the quiet place with God. We see this in the Psalms in particular with David.. frustration, disappointment, fear, genuine faith in a broken world is messy and real.
Maybe this might encourage you to join me in coming sincerely to God, in faith, and dealing with your own life’s challenges – He challenges us to come! Frustrated, angry, sad.. come! I’m going to go do that now as I hit publish on this post.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28
Bruce & Deb