We were gone for only two hours. My sister and I came home from lunch when I noticed my laptop was missing.
“I think we’ve been robbed.”
My sister thought I was joking until she noticed her laptop was missing too. I ran downstairs to my room. The thieves had rifled through my drawers and taken cash.
I dialed 911.
Two hours later an officer showed up and walked through the house with me trying to figure out what happened. It wasn’t obvious how the thieves entered and escaped–every door and window seemed locked and undamaged.
Then we walked to the back porch and he pushed on a pair of french doors. Deadbolted, locked and yet they swung open.
“The wind could blow open that door!”
The locked deadbolt gave us a false sense of security since the second door was supposed to be pinned to the door frame, but had no visible affordance to indicate if it was pinned or not.
My sister and I immediately got to work.
We asked friends for prayer and help, filed a police report, called insurance, reset passwords, activated Find/Erase My iPhone through iCloud, placed watches on credit cards, the whole 9 yards. We installed new security countermeasures and did a long overdue spring
I didn’t want to sleep that night. My room felt unsafe, unclean and violated so I ended up dozing off at 3am in the living room.
My sister and I had just been discussing forgiveness over lunch that day and the irony of being simultaneously robbed was not lost on me. God was up to something good in all this, but what?
Here are three things I’ve learned in the short time since the incident and I’m sure there’s still more wisdom to gain with time.
Learning #1: Theft deals far more damage than the loss of goods.
The burglary makes me feel angry and anxious. It makes my home feel unsafe. The thieves took the tools my sister and I need to do our work. We spent several days dealing with the fallout of their actions. We have to deal with the risk that people will steal the private information on our devices and use it for nefarious purposes.
The thieves may have thought they were simply taking valuables to get easy money from an unsuspecting home, but the actual cost of their actions is far greater than the value of what they took.
To generalize/personalize, I’m beginning to pay more attention to how even my minor irresponsibilities have an outsized impact on others. I can’t isolate my irresponsibilities to myself. None of us can.
Learning #2: Cash flow can’t be stolen and heaven is the only place to accumulate assets.
As a young entrepreneur, I’ve often heard the phrase “cash is king” and now I’ve learned a new reason why.
Thieves can steal assets. They can steal goods in a warehouse, a package on the curb, office supplies, laptops, money in the bank, etc.
But they cannot steal real, healthy customer relationships resulting in ongoing revenue and a continuous in-flow of cash going forward. Cash flow is resilient to theft.
I think this correlates with Jesus’ major point about treasure:
“Do not accumulate for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. But accumulate for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:19-21 NET, emphasis mine)
The Kingdom of Heaven is the only completely safe place to store your assets. Your earthly assets can be destroyed, corrupted, compromised and stolen. Setting your heart on earthly asset accumulation means putting your heart at serious risk because it is only a matter of time before your treasure will go away.
Alternatively, if you spend life on earth maximizing Free Cash Flow for the Kingdom and transfer as much wealth as possible to the Kingdom of Heaven, you win forever. Luke records one explicit mechanism for this value transfer:
“Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. (Luke 12:32-34 ESV, emphasis mine)
What does this mean for us? It means this life is the time to take risks, not play it safe. Now is the time to vigorously and generously labor for Kingdom cash flow, not comfortably sit on your assets. Now is the time to sow and reap (and give), not store up excess grain in a barn and take it easy for the rest of your days and lose your soul in the process (cf Luke 12:13-21).
Learning #3: Vigilance, Diligence and Aggressive Security Measures Apply to Spirituality.
This experience snapped me out of my complacency.
I cleaned up my house and put long overdue things in order, increased the privacy and security of my home, conducted a security review and improved everything we could think of.
And then I took a break and enjoyed having an orderly home and more orderly life. For all the grief and loss suffered, we received an even greater outpouring of sympathy, concern and kindness from family, friends and neighbors. Thank God!
Then while joyfully meditating on these things, I realized something.
This is exactly what I should be doing in my spiritual life.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly (John 10:10 ESV)
Abundant life must be guarded with greater vigilance than my home. It’s way more valuable.
Before, I assumed my house was safe. Now I assume it’s always being scouted, tested and targeted. Instead of letting thieves have their way, I prepare by mitigating risks with controls and respond by neutralizing threats.
The same applies to my spiritual life. Satan is a cunning and menacing adversary, constantly casing, canvassing, and prowling around like a lion waiting to strike (1 Peter 5:8-10).
The gift of faith that gets me in on Jesus’ life is the supremely precious asset for life on this earth. So when it comes under attack, I shouldn’t give in. I shouldn’t succumb to feelings of self-pity, doubt, surrender, fear and depression. I should fight.
I should take precautions and install countermeasures to mitigate the risk of these infinitely precious assets from being stolen or damaged or compromised. I should fight for joy and protect it with greater vigilance, diligence and aggressiveness than anything else.
Here’s to praying that I will!
Question: When was the last time you did a security review of your life (physical & spiritual)? What security mechanisms did you put in place to protect it?
PS, here are two Christian books that I read a long time ago, which have newfound relevance. One delves into “heavenly asset accumulation” and the other discusses “spiritual asset protection” (affiliate links):
PPS, I get this verse better now. The first few days after the burglary I wanted to stay home all day with a frying pan in hand to wait for the thieves to return :).
But know this, that if the master of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have left his house to be broken into. You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” (Luke 12:39-40 ESV)