I Got Robbed, and the Suckiness of Radical Grace

Wednesday, August 15, 2012 – 5:50PM. Jules, Caleb and I went to a park in Lakeland and sometime between when we arrived and 15 minutes later the window to our car was smashed in, and Jules’ purse, Caleb’s diaper bag, and my false sense of security were stolen. As it turns out, we are part of a trend happening throughout Central Florida – not a huge comfort…

Anyway, I have had things stolen from me before… guitar equipment, Bibles, loose change – but this was personal. There was a certain violence to it, and more than that, this incident targeted the two most important people in my life: my wife and child. And in that my anger has burned, kind of simmering under the surface.

It’s been frustrating to have to deal with insurance companies, police reports, banks, and phone companies. It’s been irritating having to replace things. But that’s not the point… It’s not what was stolen, but who was targeted, how it was done. And now anger.

Ironically enough, it has been a little over a month since I talked on anger in our Sunday Alive service, but I didn’t know then what sort of internal spiritual restraint I would be going through now. And more than anything, the words that keep ringing or buzzing in my head and heart are those from Jesus himself.

“But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. “If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. (Luke 6:27-36 ESV)

Easy words to say, think, preach when you’re not faced with someone who has stolen from you. But what would I do if faced with the perpetrator? Would I give my “cloak”? Press charges? I’d like to think I have the grace to forgive and love my enemies… But honestly I’m not sure.

The frightening thing that I have to come to grips with is the last line of Jesus’ words in Luke 6:37 where he says, “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.” The implication is that as angry as I have been over this theft, as angry as I have been when anyone has wronged me – I deserve that amount of anger and more directed at me. I have been unfaithful to him, been dishonest in my life, thought I was much more important than I am. I deserve God’s anger, and the truth of the matter is – I deserve other people’s anger too.

Of course we would like to think we are only victims and never the victimizers, but that just isn’t true. We abuse relationships, cut people off in traffic, talk about others behind their backs, belittle those who are weaker than we are, and done a thousand other things at which we would be horribly offended. So, do we expect others to be angry with us?

God shows grace when we deserve the opposite of that, and I am praying patiently that the Lord will teach me this kind of grace… But admittedly, it’s the toughest of lessons to learn.

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  1. I am so sorry that this crime has happen, to know the pain and anger is human. Bad people do set out to harm good people and the fear comes when it happens to those closest to us/loved ones. Anger at the ones that did the act and then wondering why God did protect what was in our lives. Human nature is to want what is right and for the person to be punished – left to the life that they are living is will be for all eternity. But I quess that to forgive/seek lesser punishment is one of God’s way of trying to reach that person for His kingsom and maybe the only witness to God’s love in the fresh. Hard – yes, if it had been easy then the cross would not have been necessary.
    Zac, as you have said easier to say than live, from experience I know that being wronged or having those that you loved wronged – all you want it for someone to pay but, God’s blessing is in knowing that He is in controll and that if I can lift it back to Him, He will work it for the good of His kingdom and one day He will let see what that was.
    I lift you, Julie and Caleb up for God’s protective hand to surround and give you peace.

  2. I am so very sorry Julie, Caleb and you have had to go through this. I wish that I could take away all the hurt and pain. I am grateful God will not waste it, but use it to form you into the image of Christ. (Romans 8:28 & 29). And I pray for you to have the Supernatural Wisdom that will demonstrate evidence that God is guiding you in ways you could barely imagine.

    When people slandered my reputation, lied about me to the point of it almost costing me my job –and they did this for several months– I fought like crazy. I imagined, like Jesus, I would defeat the money changers in the temple. I would kick over their symbolic tables of deceit and demonstrate my “righteous anger.” Then one day, while I was praying, I heard the LORD say, “What makes you any better than my Son who was slandered and wrongly accused, even to the point of death. Stop fighting. Put up with the slander. Agree with your adversary quickly. Don’t you judge or you will be judged. Don’t you condemn or you will be condemened. Forgive, if you want to be forgiven.Vengance is mine, saith the LORD. I will repay.” God was actually asking ME to be humble. He was asking me to let go and let God handle it. And He wanted me to actually show the
    people who were persecuting me His love.

    I hated every word of this Word, and was on the verge of disobedience. I have always loved a good fight, especially when I thought I was right. Yet I knew I had to yield to my LORD. I simply did NOT want to do it! Of course Philippians 4:13 tells me differently.

    So the next morning, I went to tell your Mom, who was praying, what had happened; however, before I could say a word she told me, “I have to share something with you. I have been praying and I need to ask, ‘What makes you any better than God’s Son, who was wrongly accused?’ ” I nearly flipped! She had no idea what I was going to tell her, but she told me virtually the words I heard while I was praying. So, as in “The Champion” I imagined myself dropping my guard and agreeing with those who were out to hurt me, and could have done so. God was merciful and He gave me grace to “be.”

    Amazingly, that is when the miracles began to happen. I determined to treat those who had harmed me and your mother with kindness. I chose to forgive them and not fight. They continued to lie and slander, but it no longer had the same impact on me as before. Then it became like coals of hot fire being poured on their heads, when God gave me grace to do good to those who hated me. They had NO idea how to handle this.

    Now I am addressing, in each new day, my Character Flaws: Judgmental attitude, A Condemning spirit and an unforgiving heart. I put on the Armor of God each day and I remember who is really my enemy… no human being. Christ gave His life for them.

    I hate that you all have had to go through this trial. To be violated in such a way is so painful that words cannot describe the impact of the trauma you have felt. Challenges like this really test your metal. I have no idea how God will direct you on this, but I have complete confidence in Julie and you to discover, via God’s Holy Spirit, what are the right choices. I admire the honesty with which you evaluate the circumstances. I do hope the folks are caught and you are given the opportunity to face them in a court of law… discerning what is the right thing to do… well… that will be your biggest challenge: I personally know people who found life in Christ in prison. Choices are not so cut and dry sometimes. I am so very glad you all have been kept safe through it all. Written with all my love. Dad.

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