As I approached Greg’s house, I noticed a pile of shoes sitting by the curb. I stepped onto the porch and was greeted by Adam, Greg’s brother.
“Hey Adam,” I said, “is Greg home?”
He replied, “You didn’t hear? They moved back to Philadelphia.”
By “they” Adam was referring to Greg and his daughter Cara, along with his girlfriend Lilly and her daughter Tianna.
“Oh,” I said.
It was all I could say.
For over four years, Rachel and I poured into Cara and Tianna. Rachel baptized Cara three years ago and we’d been discipling her ever since.
Greg had recently visited our new ministry location. He was committing to a new life – no more booze, just Jesus.
But now the whole family is gone. Just up and moved, leaving most of their belongings behind.
The whole ordeal put me in a funk for the rest of the day. I wrestled through feelings of self-pity and defeat.
We’ve been in this neighborhood for six years now. We meet people, befriend them, love them, and begin to build into them.
Then they leave.
It happens all the time, and it always puts me in a funk.
So I left work a little early.
On the walk home, I prayed that God would speak into my heart. That he’d keep me from falling into a deep sadness or hopelessness.
Then I turned down the alley and noticed our garage door was open. That’s odd, I thought.
When I walked into the garage I discovered that our bikes, along with my tool box, a circular saw, and a power sander, had been stolen
I got mad. Slammed a few doors. Marched around the block looking for a ruffian slowly peddling my half-ton vintage bicycle.
I don’t know what I would have done if I caught him. Run away?
Rachel came home and talked me down. And after filing a police report, we both felt better.
But that feeling when I first noticed our bikes were gone. The thoughts going through my head:
After ministering to this neighborhood for six years, this is the treatment I get? I bet it was one of the addicts I know, someone whose hands I’ve held during prayer. The nerve!
God said, Really?
Here’s an annoying passage from the gospels:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘you shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matthew 5:43-45, ESV)
So before eating our dinner that night, Rachel and I prayed for the person who stole our bikes.
Ten minutes later, there was a knock at our door and our bikes were on our front porch.
No, that didn’t happen.
Jesus tells us to pray for those who mean us harm because it helps us become more like God. A God who gives good things to all kinds of people, even if they are never going to repent.
A God who is best described as a Father.
I suppose I don’t have a point today, just wanted to share a bit of my story from the past week.
But if there’s anything to take away, let it be an agreement that God is a good Father, and we should listen to Jesus, because he knows what he’s talking about.