by Joanie Butman
Living in New York City is an expensive endeavor. Steep rents are just one of the contributing factors of the soaring cost of living. My son recently discovered just how pricey New York can be as he was burglarized twice in one week. Being exposed to the ugly underbelly of New York was quite the experience. He met a slew of NYPD’s finest, testified in front of a grand jury and roamed the neighborhood looking for people wearing his clothes. You might laugh, but that’s how they eventually caught one of the perpetrators.
The detectives weren’t certain how the burglar gained entry the first time, and my son and his roommates wondered if they might have left the back door open. It was definitely a possibility as I’ve visited on more than one occasion and found that door unlocked. The second time they got in by pushing in a window air conditioning unit.
A burglary in NY isn’t surprising to anyone. You need to take precautionary steps if you want to avoid this threat. You can’t afford to be naïve about security – especially if you live on the ground floor. Multiple locks, alarm systems, and security bars on windows are a must. Better yet, if you can afford a doorman building, that lowers your risk, but by no means guarantees safety. Diligence is the key.
The same way my son and his roommates need to protect their person and property from intruders, we too have to protect our hearts and minds from spiritual trespassers. We can’t afford to be naïve about the very real threat to our spiritual safety. There’s good reason Peter warns us that “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” And John offers Jesus’ own warning, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
I don’t mean to be an alarmist, but being naïve will only leave you susceptible – physically and spiritually. John Eldridge describes spiritual naivete as “landing on the beaches of Normandy in the early hours of D-day with a lawn chair and a book to read. We are that unprepared for our lives.” Coincidentally, as I was walking in NY last week, I came across a number of sidewalk stencils reminding me to be diligent in protecting my heart. Here amidst the chaos of the city was a visual Bible lesson taken directly from Proverbs 4:23, which states “Above all else, guard your heart for everything you do flows from it.” As I stood on that stencil, I thought of my own beliefs, which may not be stenciled on the sidewalk but are certainly tattooed on my heart. When I am grounded in faith, the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philipians 4:7)
Though Doug will not be getting his laptop or clothes back, the apartment is now reinforced with bars and alarms. However, even those won’t help if he forgets to lock the door. In a similar fashion, we need to guard our hearts, careful not to leave any openings for spiritual intruders.
As Christians, we have a Divine Doorman, but that doesn’t relieve us of our responsibility to choose to exercise diligence and discernment in protecting our hearts. The thief doesn’t always break in, more often than not it is something we choose to let in – fear, shame, bitterness, anger, deceit, unforgiveness, envy, judgment, blame, busyness, etc. Is there something in your life robbing you of the joy that is yours in Christ? If so, eviction is the only wise decision and one your Spiritual LandLord is eager to help you execute.