In our travels, we have found that the vast majority of the people we have met, including police officers, are pleasant, polite, interesting and helpful. For example, just now, as I was writing this, sitting in a lovely pavilion overlooking a lighthouse on Lake Michigan, a man and his dog “Rosie” stopped by to chat, while out for their morning walk. But in St. Louis, we met one person who was none of the above, and his actions have wounded, but not defeated us.
We watched him run, then drive away with our computer case, laughing at us as he ran. Our computers, backups, cords, flash drives, chargers, and hard drives are gone, and will most likely never be recovered. It happened two weeks ago today, and Art has spent most of the time since then working on securing our online data and communications.
Yet we are at peace, and recognize that it could have been much worse. For example, when you’re picnicking, rain is usually not a good thing, but if it had not been raining, Art would not have been carrying our things back to the van, and not have called out to the thief. Evidently, he had just entered the van, and because Art surprised him, he didn’t have time to take the GPS, iPad, camera, or my wallet, all of which were in the cab (though not readily visible). And fortunately, we have made a habit of always taking the phone with us when we’re out of the van, which was a huge advantage for us. We were able to call David and he was able to lock the computers remotely, and the iPad and iPhone served us well as we waited for our new computers to be delivered.
We have already learned some lessons (besides the obvious—don’t store your backups in the same bag with your computers) from this experience. The promise of Romans 8:28-29 has become much more real to us: “And we know that for those who love God, all things work together for good, for those that are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.”
Incredibly, one of the first emotions I felt, after the incident, was one of relief. There had always been, in the back of my mind, the thought that I really should spend more time organizing all the information I had saved on my computer, working on my 60,000 photos, and finishing some of my scores of writing projects. No matter how much I did, there was always much more to do. Now I am free of that bondage. I can begin writing again and work on one project at a time. I can recover many of the most important photos from friends and family, and I will no longer have so many that they need to be moved off the computer to a separate hard drive! During times we were at home, we spent a lot of time reducing the number of our possessions (an ongoing project, of course), and now we have been forced to simplify our digital possessions also.
But relief soon gave way to concern for the safety of our data. Naturally, when something like this happens, we are prone to lying awake worrying about what might happen. During one of those times, a biblical phrase came to my mind, “No weapon formed against you shall stand.” I’m claiming that verse as a promise from God.
I also think that the Lord is trying to get us focused less on the past and more on the present and future. While remembering the past and its lessons is important, we don’t want to live there. Our life is now, and every moment is precious. I’m trying to enjoy the simple things without needing to constantly document them with photos and/or writing. The memories are still there, and the sermons, stories, and selahs have done their work. In that sense, they will never be lost.
I am praying that this incident will focus our vision on the eternal perspective. The verses in Romans talk about those who are called according to His purpose. We need to remember that we are here to accomplish God’s purposes and not our own. It also mentions that we are to be conformed to the image of Christ. That process is rarely accomplished without suffering of some kind, because He set the example and suffered for us! We probably spent thousands of hours accumulating the data that is now lost. In the aftermath of the theft, I find myself rethinking the use of my time, trying to weigh my decisions and see events in the light of eternity. This leads me to pray that the young man who stole from us will be apprehended and forced to face his crimes, not for our revenge, but so that he will have a chance to repent and turn to Christ, which is his only true hope.
Thanks to all of you who have been praying for us. We love and appreciate you! And we hope to begin writing on this blog more often.