Thought for the Day - Rhidian Brook
I was burgled this week. I was in the house when it happened, working in my office, oblivious to the fact that two men had broken in. Only when I got up to stretch my legs did I notice one of them coming down the stairs. He looked as surprised as me. He shouted to his friend. Moments later, the other man appeared with a bag full of my belongings.
Some part of me said: ‘don’t try to stop them,’ so I backed into the garden to let them escape. They left and I followed them into the street to try and get a decent look at them. I then called the police and went back to the house to see what they’d done. Even with my interruption they’d taken a fair bit of stuff and managed to turn most of the rooms upside-down.
A burglary is often described as being a violation. And it’s a good word for it because it’s not just about what is physically taken; it’s about what is emotionally done to the person being robbed. I had suffered no physical assault, but when I sat down to describe what I could to the police over a strong cup of tea, I felt as though I’d been beaten up.
The upset wasn’t really to do with the things that had been stolen (most of that is replaceable and insured); it wasn’t the ransacking of personal property, or the time-consuming pain of having to fill out claim forms. It was more the unsettling questions that the burglary had stirred up: What if they’d been armed? What if they come back? Why did this happen?
There was a fear that lingered long after the thieves have fled. Even when writing this (on the laptop that wasn’t stolen) I was more conscious of noises coming from the street; suspicious of a person walking a little too slowly up my road. I even bolted the door. I can get all the super-duper alarm systems I like, but will they take away my fear? I’m angry at those thieves for taking my things but I’ll be more annoyed if they rob me of my peace.
Later, as I walked around the house performing a grudging exorcism, I found myself half-praying; half-complaining: wondering what, if anything, God was going to do about it. Of course, I wanted them arrested and my stuff returned, but all I could imagine Him saying was: ‘do not be anxious, don’t store up treasures on earth where thieves break in’ and then perhaps asking me to pray for the two thieves - something I really wasn’t ready to do.
Could it be that the only way to dispel the fear is to imagine how God thinks about them. What is the best outcome – punishment or mercy? There are those who believe in a God who goes after people. Seizes hold of them, turns them around and changes them. He even invites them into his home. But for that door to be open you’d need someone who was prepared to die for a thief. And what kind of God would do that?