Recently, while visiting our local big box store, I gathered my few items, including a package of six ankle-high running socks, parked my cart and walked briefly into the nearby rest room.
When I came out, I noticed a woman standing at my buggy rummaging through my stuff. She saw me coming, turned away and casually strolled across the store towards produce. She disappeared as I stood there in disbelief.
My sock package was taken apart and had one pair missing. Unbelievable! This customer couldn’t shoplift off the rack. She got into my merchandise. I walked back, got another package and gave the disheveled pack to an employee with an explanation. She gave me a “just another day at work” look went on her way.
Somehow, our customer missed “You shall not steal” (Exodus 20:15). So did the guy who broke into my house in Indiana many years ago. One Sunday night, we finished up evening worship. My wife and four children headed home to start the bedtime routine while I hung around. Fifteen minutes later I pulled into my garage, walked into the house and my kids and wife stood there petrified. An intruder had kicked in the front door and ransacked our house, especially our bedroom.
We called the sheriff’s office and several minutes later deputies showed up, including a German shepherd who sniffed his way through the house, tracking the path of the burglar through the front door, down the hall, to our bedroom and then out the backdoor and over the fence.
Apparently, an accomplice sat in a car in front of the house and somehow signaled the man when my wife pulled into the driveway. He was running out the back door and over the fence while my wife was unloading the kids in the garage.
The next morning, I walked out the backdoor and noticed a flashlight lying in the grass. I carefully picked it up, dropped it into a paper bag and called the sheriff’s department. Later, an officer picked it up.
Fast forward weeks later. I stopped to get gas, went to the window to pay and noticed the headline in the afternoon paper: “Pair held in parsonage burglaries.”
Suburban Indianapolis police arrested a man and woman after receiving a tip. The man, released earlier that year from a Massachusetts prison, and his partner targeted ministers’ homes from New England to Missouri. When arrested, the pair possessed thousands of dollars of stolen merchandise, especially jewelry. Officers found telephone books from Ohio, New Hampshire, New York, Massachusetts, Indiana and Missouri with minister’s names circled.
This rascal looked in the yellow pages to find out what time services started, then cross referenced the white pages to find pastor’s addresses. He struck while everyone was at church.
He didn’t find much at our place. We were young, broke and just starting out. Down the street, however, in the nicer, newer, more expensive houses, lived the priest of a strong, upper crust Catholic church and a Baptist pastor much better off than we were. They were untouched. Lucky us.
I called the detective quoted in the article and told him about our break-in and the flashlight left behind. He commented that the wet grass probably hindered getting good fingerprints.
Immediately, I responded, “What about the batteries?” I had watched a cop show or two. His department got the flashlight.
When I talked to him later, he said the woman’s fingerprints were all over the batteries and they used that evidence to persuade her to testify against her friend. We eventually got over our trauma.
When Jesus talked about His second coming, He said, “Watch, therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. But know this, if the Master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore, you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect” (Matthew 24:42-44).
Paul wrote, “ . . . the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night” (I Thessalonians 5:2).
A thief doesn’t make an appointment to rob your house or steal your socks. He shows up unannounced. One day Jesus will return. Will we be ready? Will He find us faithfully living for Him?
David L. Chancey is pastor of McDonough Road Baptist Church in Fayetteville, Georgia. He’s a husband, father, grandfather, writer, Braves fan, Georgia Bulldogs fan, cancer survivor, and chocolate lover. He is the author of “The Day I Nearly Met Dolly: Tales of Faith, Family and a Few Home Runs.” Contact him at email@example.com.