17. THE THIEF COMETH TO STEAL AND DESTROY
“The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10)
On a pleasant autumn Saturday afternoon in 1973, I was living in New Bern, North Carolina, and visiting the houses of the children who rode the church bus to church on Sunday mornings. I was the bus driver. A sister about 11 years old and her brother about 8 years old usually rode the bus to church. Their parents would not come to church.
This day, as I drive up into their spacious yard of the somewhat old and simple wood frame rental house, I see their father going out the back door of the house heading toward an old shed on the property. From the way he walked, he appeared most intent on going someplace. That certainly was the case. He was intent on going away from me. He knew what a pathetic situation I would encounter when I came into his house. And he did not want to be present for that.
Knowing nothing yet, I walk up onto the porch and knock on the door. His wife comes to the door looking most downcast and “lets me in” without saying much. Going on inside, I see both the girl and boy who also look most gloomy. I greet these three cheerfully and try to make cheerful conversation, talking of me coming by tomorrow with the bus as usual, and wanting the 2 children to ride the bus to church, as they did many Sundays.
Each Saturday that I visit in this fashion, typically both kids burst forth with joy upon seeing me, run up to me, and chat happily with me about “this and that”. But this day, they are standing distant from me and not talking at all, along with being gloomy. No doubt both kids know what is about to happen, and they dread it. It is a small house with small rooms. I am standing just inside the small living room near the front door. Those 3 are in the living room, the Mother standing near the open kitchen (no wall between living room and kitchen).
Suddenly their Mother bursts out crying, “There is no food in this house!” She flings open kitchen cabinet doors and the fridge door as she sobs that out quite loudly. I glance at the insides of those kitchen “food storage” places and all the shelves are completely bare. Absolutely no food in the house, and I don’t know how long it has been since those two children have eaten. They must be ever so hungry.
No telling how hungry that girl is, but she is embarrassed by her mom’s frantic revelation to me. “Oh, Mother, don’t. Mother, don’t.” That was the precious girl, in weary hungry frustration pleading with her Mother not to carry on so terribly in front of me. That broke my heart. It was all I could do to keep from crying.
I soon excuse myself, telling them I will go get food. I drive to the nearest supermarket, buy loaf bread, dry cereal, milk, some canned goods, and a few other staple foods. When I soon come back to that house, and set a couple of sacks of groceries on the kitchen counter, the starving boy vigorously “dives” into them, ripping open a box of dry cereal, dumping plenty into a bowl, pouring milk onto it and then devouring it like a starving animal. Now he is smiling and talking happily with me. Bless his heart!
After this, I drive to the church and tell the pastor who lives beside the church of that family’s situation. The next day, when I tell this to the young adult Sunday School class that I teach, some of them tell me that both the man and wife smoke cigarettes and drink beer. (I came into this neighborhood only about 2 years ago in the military.) So these “local” Christian friends I have made, know much about the neighborhood and the people that I do not know.)
So that dad and mom had spent all the money they had on tobacco and alcohol because they were addicted, enslaved to those vices, leaving no money to buy food for their hungry, precious son and daughter. That is how terribly the “thief” will steal from you, if only once you let him in the door of your life. Those addictive vices set up cravings that cry out to be fed, no matter if it takes away all the food from the whole family. Right now, you cry out to God to save you to the utmost from that “thief”.
“Our Father which art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy Name in my life and in all that I do. Save me from loving the pleasures of this world and the pleasures of sin. Save me from chasing after them and indulging in them. Cause me to meditate most seriously upon Thy Holy Scriptures that warn me that the pleasures of sin endure but for a season, but the punishment of sin lasts forever.
Convince me that vices such as tobacco, alcohol, and drugs are highly addictive, quickly enslaving the user to them, stealing his or her money simply to satisfy the craving of the addiction. The pleasant sensations that such vices brings, lasts only a most short season, because they shorten the life of the user, bringing on sickness, disease, and early death. May I never forget that these vices are thieves from the devil and that they come to steal, kill, and destroy life. Save me from them all, I plead. Amen.”
‘Lord Jesus, I (Missionary Richard) pray for all Christian parents and adults who presently teach children. In accordance to Thy Divine Will for each of them, guide them to properly warn young souls against the destructive devices of the “thief”. Lead them to preach to young ones that their Creator God desires to give them a long healthy life. Guide them to call on boys and girls to shun others their age that are already destroying their lives with vices, and will urge them to use the vices. Hear us, Lord, I pray. Amen.’
Young Person, when I was in high school I would see other students start smoking and drinking. That killed some of them from cancer when they were in their forties. Some others died in their fifties and sixties (from vices). Today, I am so blessed to be healthy at age 73 (in 2019) because God saved me from those “killers”. I desire the same blessing for you. So does your Creator God.