Life in this past year has been so full. Every waking moment has been full. Diary full. Timetable full. The To Do List very full and the idea of having three weeks to ourselves was attractive even though it had the feel of being something we had to do and if we were not careful it would be full. We had saved up our frequent flyer points and come to Europe. There was so much we could do, meeting people and visiting places that would benefit our work, but we decided we would do everything we could to just make this time anything but full. We told no one what we were up to.
We are in the final few days of this time away and are preparing to head back to normal life for one of the busiest periods of my life that I can remember. Rosemary and I have had numerous conversations about all there is to do when we return home and have been making lists which somehow just makes you feel better about all there is to do. At least it is all written down. I know so many people who live busy lives jut like ours. Every day returning home is looming larger in my mind.
It was late and we were eating dinner at a restaurant with the option of eating inside or outside on the footpath in Barcelona. It is a very busy city with many tourists.
An extrovert restaurant owner had convinced us of the virtues of his restaurant and so we were having a delightful dinner amidst the hustle and bustle of this busy city. There seemed to be people everywhere and so I asked the restaurant owner if it was always this busy. He said that there were always many tourists and that crime was the same as in any busy place. He told us that Barcelona had the best football team (soccer) in the world but that we had to be careful because pickpockets were everywhere.
I had placed my glasses and mobile phone on the table close to the center as the thought crossed my mind that someone might take them.
As we sat there a man in a wheel chair put his hand out begging for money. Then a Chinese man playing a traditional instrument walked around with his hat out asking for money. Two men selling long stemmed roses also approached us and then finally the robber.
He was a young man about 21 years of age and he had an A4 piece of paper with some words in Spanish scribbled on it. He reached over the table saying nothing but placed the paper right in front of me. I immediately felt how close he was to me. As he did this I reached into my pocket while he reached under the paper with the other hand and picked up my phone.
As he walked away I noticed that he started running immediately. I thought that was strange. It was only half an hour later when we stood up to leave that I discovered he had taken my phone.
It was as this point that the restaurant owner saw me and said, “Have you had your phone stolen?” My acknowledgement only elicited from him an, “I told you so.”
I immediately felt stupid and that maybe I would never help another person, and then I simply felt taken advantage of.
Within the hour I had called Australia, blocked the phone and remotely wiped all of my information from the phone including my 923 contacts. I hope I backed them up correctly.
I wandered around for a while looking for the man. I am not sure I really wanted to find him. What would I have done? Perhaps wrestled him to the ground and twist his leg and demanded my phone back? This sounds good in my mind but he was young, fit and strong. Let’s just say I am none of these.
What should I do? Should I hate this young man?
What he has done is plainly wrong. It will cost me money to replace my phone as well as the inconvenience of not having my phone.
Scripture is very, very clear on this. We are to love our enemies and pray for them.
This is a challenge.
Losing a phone is inconsequential compared to what many people experience in life at the hands of others.
Unspeakable loss is the story of many people. I met a woman the other day whose father was killed in the ethnic war in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the 1990s. When the topic of war came up she became teary and said, “I do not like to speak of those times.”
The Scripture still states however that we are to forgive and love our enemies no matter what the do. This is what makes us different from people who do not believe in Jesus Christ.
Jesus changes everything from our worldview, our emotional life, our response to hardship and tragedy and how we love with a love that is not our own.
Grace is the gift given to each of us by God to be more than we can be by ourselves.
Everything in me wants to find the young man who stole my phone and ………
Pray for him!!!! Yes, pray that some harm comes to him is my first response.
It is now that I need the grace of God to be active in my life.
So Lord I pray what I know to be true in these few hours since this has happened.
Father God you love this young man. You know him completely. You know his circumstances, how he was raised and what environment he has and does live in. You know what he has to do just to survive. You know the values that have been formed in him.
Father in Jesus name would you pour your abundant blessing upon him right now wherever he is. Would you draw him closer to your Son Jesus throughout his life. May he come to know your love and grace personally.
Would you keep him safe. Would you place people in his life who will love and care for him personally and who can teach him other ways of living and thinking.
Jesus bless him with good things in life that ultimately lead him to you where forgiveness and acceptance is perfect.
Father we make this prayer in Jesus name through the power of the Holy Spirit.