How do you love someone who steals from you? I haven’t quite figured this out yet…

The Afghan woman who returned my opened package passes me in the hallway often. We smile and exchange small talk.  I feel violated that she read the words of the letter addressed to me that was inside my package. But maybe she needed to read the loving words written from a friend’s heart to mine – words that are soaked in the Spirit of God and look differently than possibly everything she has ever known of friendship love. Maybe reading those words will put a question in her heart as to why she hasn’t experienced that type of friendship before.

I opened my door 2 nights ago, only to see her getting off the elevator.  I said a friendly hello and her small child ran over to see the kids who were peeking out from behind me.  As she walked over we started to chat.  She told me she works at McDonald’s and I said “Oh I go there in the mornings to get coffee.”  She looked at me and said “I know.  I see you.”  While I continued to smile and talk, I felt very uncomfortable on the inside.  The way she said she sees me made me feel observed and watched.  We have been told that our neighbors will know everything about us and will watch us closely, and that living in a way the glorifies God will spark their curiosity.  I thought that might be true in a small, rural area where you might be the only white person, but not in a huge city where you blend in pretty easily.  This woman watches us….she watches me….and sometimes when I see her I get so upset at how she took something that was mine. Oh Lord, help me to love like you do.

“But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation. For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son. So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.” ~Romans 5:8-11

Jesus chose to die for us while we were still rebellious enemies of God.  He loved his enemies and gave up His life for those who tried to steal everything from him.  I am so challenged by this level of selfless love. I want to live this kind of love.  I want to be known by this kind of love.

Today my husband’s mother who is visiting us from the United States rented a car and we all drove to a beautiful area full of mountains and waterfalls…

My husband remembers locking the car with the clicker on the keyring, but when we got back to the vehicle, we had 2 iPads stolen from the backseat. Now I know it is just “stuff” but something snapped inside of me and I was so angry.  As my son said “we should punch whoever stole our stuff” and my husband calmly explained that we need to love them anyway and maybe they will read the Bible that we had downloaded, everything within me sided with my son. Maybe it’s that we’ve already had to sell or give away most of our possessions that caused me to get so upset at having yet one more thing taken away.  Or maybe it’s God’s way of showing me how tightly my hands grip the possessions we do have.  Whatever it was inside of me, it wasn’t pretty.

I am human.  I am dealing with a large amount of stress everyday.  There are times that I just want to scream “enough already” and demand to know why He allows things to happen.  Can I follow and submit to a God that is not obligated to explain His ways to me?  God does not have to explain why or how He chooses to allow things to happen, and how arrogant of us to demand an answer to the question so many of us ask: “why?” As I stewed over feeling violated yet again, I was reminded that I cannot expect lost people to act any way other than lost.

“Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.They will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” ~John 10:7-10

The enemy’s plan involves stealing and killing and destroying.  He comes to steal anything and everything that will result in the theft our joy, affection, worship, and obedience to the Lord.  I am being challenged to allow yet another layer of my comfort zone to be shattered.  Am I ok living among people who will watch our family and possibly steal from us?  And not just possessions….am I ok placing my children in an atmosphere that could have the potential to steal their innocence?

I know I’ve only had “stuff” stolen and all is really ok in the world, but the loss of my “stuff” has really caused me to address just how abandoned I am to truly living out the words of the Apostle Paul…

“But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ.” ~Philippians 3:7-8

The way the Spirit is teaching me and refining me through the loss of my things is showing me that truly I am gaining Christ with each earthly possession that I am being asked to let go of. The loss of my “stuff” has done nothing but expose worldliness in my heart and caused me to recognize just how amazing the love of Jesus is.   He loves those who persecute Him and He never sinned against anyone who was His enemy.  I want to make the choice to extend a Spirit filled love to everyone around me, whether they welcome me as a friend or steal everything I own.  Jesus is my prize and great reward.  Jesus first, only, always must be my focus, and Jesus is something that no one or nothing can steal from me.

May we hold our treasures, friends, family, and life loosely, trusting everything we own and everything we are to the One whose ways are always perfectly good.  There is always joy and thanksgiving on the lips of the child who rests in the Father and trusts his ways completely…..even on the harder days…

“The rule for all of us is perfectly simple. Do not waste time bothering whether you ‘love’ your neighbor; act as if you did. As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him…” ~C.S. Lewis