lightHave you ever had something stolen from you? It is a unique feeling that only occurs when this event takes place. When I was a youth pastor in Florida, my wife and I lived in an apartment complex only a few miles away from the church.  It was a safe neighborhood, and everyone we met was very friendly.

One morning, we decided to sleep in and get a little extra rest. We had gone to bed late the night before watching a movie, and were in a deep sleep. All of the sudden we were jolted awake by a knock on the door. It was a loud knock. We were not expecting company, and we were still “rockin’ the pj’s”. I rushed out to the front room and looked through the peephole only to see a shiny police badge on the chest of a large buzz cut human being. He looked like he meant business.

“Can I help you?”, I questioned. I assumed he had the wrong apartment, and if this was the case I was poised to be a little cranky because I wanted more sleep. “Are you the owner of a silver Chevy Cobalt?”, he asked. I nodded my head, and he motioned me outside of the apartment. When he took me to our car, I saw a pile of shattered glass. Someone had broken into our car and several other cars. For some reason, this also happened to be the first (and last) time I had ever left my wallet in my car out in the open. Yep…you guessed it. It was stolen.

You may have been in this situation before. We felt so violated, and immediately our minds went to how we were going to respond to this event. We wanted justice. We wanted these people to be caught. We wanted our stuff back. We wanted more sleep! There was also a little part of us that wanted to give up because we didn’t think there was ever going to be a way to recoup the cost of hat was taken. After the dust settled and we figured out logistics, we realized that it was only stuff and we were going to be okay.

As I reflected on this situation I realized that this feeling is what many deal with on a regular basis. Perhaps not in the sense that someone broke into their car and stole a wallet, but often in a much deeper way. Many feel like something has been taken from them. This feeling could come from an abusive past, a damaged relationship, constant disappointment, or the aftermath of addiction. The result can be extremely harmful, because the feeling of violation slowly emerges over time. Due to the speed of its full onset many people become so comfortable with this feeling, but cannot point out why they are miserable, because this becomes normal. They develop unhealthy habits, lifestyles, and patterns of behavior all because their life is now (while they do not admit it) defined by the pain that they have been feeling for such a long time.

We may never fully know the hurt people are dealing with, but we do know where to find the antidote. We all bring a certain amount of pain and experience to the table. We have to approach people with love and grace, and try to understand them before we jump to conclusions. God understands how we think, operate, and respond to the world around us but He wants to free us from unhealthy patterns that only perpetuate this type of life.

As Christians, we are called to help people sort out the logistics of the mess that they are in, and point them to restoration. First, we pray that God will equip us to lead people to freedom. Then, we approach life with a willingness to be used by God in any way He sees fit. This is an uncomfortable position to be in, but a necessary one in order to be used by God to the fullest of our potential. We will not always be thanked for this, because many are in love with their pain, and don’t want to be awaken from their sleep. Scripture shows us our brokenness, and a relationship with God provides the grace for mending. When people are rescued from their darkness, they become a powerful weapon against darkness, because they knew what it felt like to feel alone.

The thief of our soul wants us to stay broken. He wants us to stay violated. His desire is destruction.

Be a change agent. A hope dealer. Spread the light.

-Landon DeCrastos

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