Thursday, October 22, 2015

Peace Like a River

It’s hard to believe it’s been a year since armed robbers broke into my house while I was home alone.
I didn’t write about the incident a year ago because it was only 10 days before I was supposed to leave on a nearly month-long village trip. When suddenly you’re filing police reports and attempting to replace stolen items and meeting with counselors and reassuring family (in addition to planning workshop lessons and packing and making month’s supply of granola...), well, blogging is kind of low on the priority list.

I’ve tried quite a few times to write about it in the year since then, but each attempt always seemed to fall short—they turned out too graphic or too lighthearted or too serious or too blase or even, too holy.

So I’ve just skipped it, just like I skip talking about most of what we might consider dangerous situations that I encounter here, because I fear misinterpretation, responses blown out of proportion, and that you may take on burdens that may not be yours to bear (after all, when God gives us trials, He enables us to bear them with His strength, and this was my trial, not necessarily yours). Without having enough beautiful, God-ordained, glory-filled experiences in this country to glow white in your memory, the presence of darkness could be overwhelming. (And since major events stick in our memory, you might start to think this sort of thing is normal and forget the vast majority of life here is made up of (relatively) uneventful days of laundry and cooking and dishes and translation.)

But whether or not I know how to write eloquently about it, the break-in was real. The scars I bear are real. The battle that you and I are both warring against a crafty Enemy is very real. And so, if I do not write, how are you to know how to pray?

 So instead, let me merely say I was home alone, watching a TV episode, and two masked men broke into the house, waving knives. There was a fight that included physical contact and my throwing a ridiculously heavy rosewood chair across the room into an attacker (adrenaline is an amazing thing); eventually, I escaped out of the house and down the road to the safety of some neighbors. I walked away with only scrapes and bruises; the robbers took my housemate’s computer and a few other things, but all things considered, the damage was minimal, and for that we praise God.

I also praise God for those days after—for the support and love that poured out from my prayer team, from the missionary community here, and my Papua New Guinean friends. I also praise Him for His peace. The night of the break-in, after our security team had left and all was quiet, I lay awake, the attack vividly playing over and over in my mind. But, instead of debilitating fear, I found myself sinking deeply into this most heavy, tangible peace that I’ve ever known. You are not alone. I love you. I am here whispered over and over and over into my heart. As I lay in those Arms, I saw again one image in particular—the rolling, panic-striken eyes of the younger robber peeking just above his mask. He was just a boy utterly terrified, trying to shush me and his fear into silence. And I found myself crying on his behalf, praying desperately, not from hurt or anger or fear, but from a deep wracking pity. For on this terrible night, I was the one wrapped in peace—and he was not.

The year since that night has not been all sunshine and roses for me—I’ve had to grieve and forgive and choose to trust again and claim that promise of peace over and over. But that’s why we’re here, is it not?  That’s why we choose to stay in the midst of trials and hardships, when the unexplainable happens and everything wants to scream retreat! Because we have been offered life, given peace when we never deserved it...and that boy, he doesn’t know Him yet.