Almost Robbed

I was walking home from my work place unmindful of any danger and safe in the thought that I was only a couple of blocks away from home when, unexpectedly, my peaceful thoughts were interrupted. "Please give me your phone," a male voice said. At that same instant, I felt something sharp at my side. I froze, then quickly caught a glimpse of an old, rusty knife pointed at me. In a split second many thoughts raced through my mind. I'm being robbed! There's a knife at my side! I'm going to die! No way! What should I do?! Lord, help me what to do! It's dark! Nobody is around (every normal person would be asleep at 4:00 a.m.)! Then God spoke through my thoughts, "Shout! Shout to wake the whole neighborhood up!"

I didn't have time to argue with God on His methods and on what I should shout, especially with a knife poking my belly, so I shouted, "Don't you dare do this to me!!!" And as I did, I quickly moved a step away from the knife. I shouted at the guy, "Don't you dare do this to me!!!" again and again. He was clearly taken aback.

Being a person who loves words and likes to talk, I am embarrassed that words escape me at that time when I could have been more eloquent and given a good sermon to that guy about robbing a defenseless girl. But, well, no other words really came to my fright-frozened mind that early morning.

Either my words froze him to his toes (highly unlikely as this happened in the hot country of the Philippines) or there was something else, which glued him to the pavement. I took advantage of the surprise I had given him by backing away while still shouting, "Don't you dare do this to me!!!" Yeah, same words. Again and again. I gained more confidence as I saw him frozen at still the same spot where he first pointed the knife at me. I didn't know then (and still don't) why he was all transfixed but it doesn't matter now, only that it gave me confidence. 

I shouted louder and louder, with more flourish, as I gained confidence at every step that I took away from him, even to the point of telling him, "I'm going to call the police and get you jailed!" Finally, some other words! 

Then I turned about face and ran as fast as my two short legs, and the adrenaline pumping through my blood, could take me. I ran like my life depended on it and didn't stop until I reached home.

Okay, so I wasn't really robbed. Just almost robbed. But it would have turned out differently if I had simply given that knife-guy what he wanted. My phone. What would have happened if I have simply given in to my emotions was that, I would have had to endure a loss.

Everyday we are being robbed. And we don't even know it. We are robbed of our precious time, our mental and physical health, our joys, and even of life. Part of the problem is, there is no voice telling us that we are being robbed. They are just simply snatched away right in front of our noses or swept away right from under our feet. And there's no need for a rusty, old knife. Emotions will do. There's fear, guilt, anger, resentment...

After being away from my family for a long time and being with them back again, I should be happy and grateful for what I have: good health even after giving birth for the fourth time in a foreign country, a devoted husband, four happy children, some personal challenges, a warm shelter, food on the table, and a God who showers me with blessings. But the recent weeks has seen me in a very miserable state as I can only think of the turn-off's in my paradise. I don't get along too well with my mother-in-law. I am way too different to most people in my new adopted country and I don't speak the language. I suck at housekeeping, cooking, and taking care of my husband and children. For the past weeks, I have been bombarded by these negative elements and allowed them to overshadow the many good things that I do have. It has robbed me of happiness that I could have enjoyed and… I'm not even at knife-point!

So I wallowed in misery of my own making. I have allowed myself to be robbed. 

As I reflected on my past experience of being almost robbed, I thought, what if I show the same spunk in my present circumstances as I did back then when that knife-guy tried to rob me of my phone? What if I pray, like I whispered a prayer then, asking God what to do? And God was very clear then in what I had to do, even if it involved mostly of shouting. I am positive that He will teach me what to do with the negative elements that rob me from enjoying what I have in my life now as He was in helping me escape from almost being robbed. 

After (not just a whisper but…) a lot of loud-crying, pillow-thumping, tear-jerking talks (a.k.a wrestling) that God has to take from me, here's what we came up with. When we are being robbed by the negative elements in life, here's what to do after 'wrestling' with God.

1. Accept the inevitable. Too many people (and that includes me) allow themselves to be unhappy over minor irritants and forget they have something good going for them. Only God can change people and has the real power over what's happening in this world. You cannot change the 'robber'. I couldn't, even if I had tried giving that knife-wielding guy a sermon. It is still up to him to change his mind whether to continue robbing or not. So with a lot of negative elements in life. Like, my mother-in-law and I don't have a perfect relationship. And try as I might, I won't be able to change her to like me unless she makes up her own mind to do so. All I can do is accept her. Life is already too full of troubles without struggling over things that can't be changed. Besides, she's not the enemy. Remember, our real enemy, the devil, is out there and he wants broken people and lives. The Bible identifies him as "…your adversary the devil, (who) as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devour" (1 Peter 5:8). 

Daniel knew why he was in Babylon and not at his home in Jerusalem. It must be painful for him, as it was with the other Hebrews, to see their home broken and themselves, believers of a living God, captives. He had to accept that he had to live with the heathen in a country that didn't acknowledge God. He accepted that. He knew he could not change what God has determined. God has control of what was happening and of the people around him, of which he had no control at all. He lived his life the best he could under such circumstances with all that God had given him. 

At the moment of realization that we are being robbed, we will greatly benefit if we learn to accept the inevitable and enjoy what we have, saving ourselves from a lot of unnecessary anxieties. 

2. Take responsibility. People and circumstances may try to rob us of our time, the joys of life, peace of mind, love, or of our faith in God and we may struggle over their power over us; but we do can decide if we allow them. We may not be able to change them, but we can change the most important person that can directly affect our lives--- ourselves. It is up to you to let the 'robbers' have your 'phone'; or you can tell them what I said repeatedly to that knife-guy who tried to rob me: "Don't you dare do this to me!",  breaking away his hold over me, and taking steps away from him. We can do that. We have a choice. No one can make us happy or miserable. It is up to us to be courageous and make the right choices.

The Scripture is plain that each is responsible for the life given to him and what he makes of it. "The soul who sins shall die... The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself" (Ezekiel 18:20).

Daniel didn't choose to be carried away captive to Babylon, but he did choose not to be robbed of his principles by the circumstances he was in, not even after the king ordered that they be fed with his own food which were not only unclean and unhealthy, but was also offered to idols. Nor did Daniel allow the king to carry out his plan to usurp his God-given power to choose and God's authority over his life. He knew he was responsible for himself, his choices and everything he did. God had given him that freedom. He was free to take control of what went on in his life.

And so with us. God has given us that responsibility. We are accountable for our choices, our actions and whatever changes we want to make in ourselves. God expects us to take responsibility.

3. Take action. Realizing we are robbed and not doing anything about it, is making a choice to be robbed. Even the whisper of a prayer for help to God is already a choice. And whatever that God tells us to do, whether to simply give in or do something to escape, is up to us to follow. But we have to take action--- take a step or run away from getting entangled in the negative elements of life and into God's capable and loving hands. We can be sure that "The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe" (Proverbs 18:10).

Pray. Listen. Those are the initial steps that one can make when being robbed. Then, act. I can say, my mom-in-law and I may not have a perfect relationship but complying to what God is telling me to do has made it better. God has the recipe. First, He opened my eyes to my own mistakes and take responsibility for them. Next, He made me accept my mom-in-law as she is and not resent her for whatever anxiety I am experiencing. Then, He opened the way for me to practice what He has been trying to teach me all along for quite a long, long time now. 

The Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5 has always eluded me in the past. I couldn't understand it, nor even come to terms with the words I know are there for me to follow.  Words like 'poor in spirit', 'meek', 'mourn', 'peacemaker', 'persecuted', 'reviled' are hard for me as I am proud, stubborn and egoistic. It is hard, but with God helping me all the way as I take one step at a time away from my own prideful and resentful self, I can see light. I take hope in the fact that if God can change me, then He can change my relationships into something unexpectedly better. I believe that as long as I listen to Him and abide to what He tells me to do (even if I don't quite understand), this negative element in my present circumstance is being threatened and will cease to exist, in the same way that I threatened the man who tried to rob me of getting him into jail.

Nobody can rob us of the joys of living an abundant life with God, unless we are unaware, discontented, blame others, neglectful of what God has given us, and most especially, out of touch with God. We flounder and fumble around with no help. Daniel has a true friend. In every anxiety that he has gone through (though none of his making), He had God to run to. And despite of being threatened, he stayed meek and true to God. And God stayed true to Daniel.

"The Son of God was given to redeem the race. At infinite suffering, the sinless for the sinful, the price was paid that was to redeem the human family from the power of the destroyer and restore them again to the image of God. Those who accept the salvation brought to them in Christ will humble themselves before God as His little children."

"God wants His children to ask for those things that will enable Him to reveal His grace through them to the world. He wants them to ask His counsel, to acknowledge His power… It is well for us to feel our weakness, for then we shall seek the strength and wisdom that the Father delights to give to His children for their daily strife against the powers of evil." (E. G. White, Testimonies, Vol.9, p. 284)

Jesus said, "Learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and you will find rest unto your souls" (Matthew 11:29). Let Jesus teach us everyday and watch Him redeem what has been robbed from us.

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