Stolen Property, Recovered Joy

Have you ever been to the Knox County Sheriff’s Department offices at the City/County Building? I was down there this week to meet with a detective and to recover some stolen property. I guess that makes me a victim of crime, petty though it was.

So petty in fact that I did not realize that it had happened until after the thieves had been caught and the stolen items were recovered. Up to that point, I was thinking that I had misplaced the missing item, or a family member had borrowed it without telling me. The events that occurred after the theft really left me impressed with the skill and diligence of the law enforcement officers in Knoxville and Knox County.

The thieves were pulled over for some sort of traffic violation. In the course of the stop, the Knoxville police officer noticed boxes containing an assortment of electronic gear in the back seat. This was no longer just a traffic violation, and arrests were made.

One of the items found in the car was my son’s camera. There was no name on it or any other means of identifying it. The officer doing the investigation turned it on and started looking through the pictures that were still on it. He found a picture of a young man and new where he worked by the clothes that he was wearing. He paid a visit to that company and showed the picture around. He identified the man in the picture as my son and gave him a call. In the course of the conversation, they determined that the thieves had taken his camera from his truck while it was parked at our house. Further conversation revealed that the same thieves had also taken the GPS from my truck. It was not misplaced or borrowed. It was stolen.

Through the effort and cooperation of a Knoxville police officer and a Knox County sheriff’s detective, the stolen items were waiting for me when I stopped by the City/County building this week. What impressed me was the amount of time and effort those officers gave to making sure that those items, which in the grand scheme of things were not of great value, were returned to their rightful owners.

Now that it is all over, I find it a little troubling that someone could so easily roam through our neighborhood and burglarize our vehicles. Even more troubling though is the precarious nature of the peace that is God’s gift to us each day. It is, at times, much easier taken from us than any of our worldly possessions ever could be. A situation at work might be the culprit, or a conflict at home might rob us of it. An endless burden or an extended time of trial might relieve of us of it before we even know that it is gone. Where is the joy and contentment of daily being in the presence of God? Where has it gone? Where did I put it? Maybe it was a cross word with a friend that stole it away, or a blunder on your part that gnaws away the grace so freely given.

The powers and principalities of this present darkness do not simply come for us in the night when everyone should be sleeping. No, the tempter is more subtle than that. With utmost conniving, the thief who would rob us of the peace, joy and contentment that God intends for us, comes in the light of day. There he sets his trap for us in our most trusted relationships, in the routine of going through the day, and perhaps most deceitfully, in the places and with people where we find the most rest and comfort.

Before we know what has happened, we have been robbed. Yet we are not without recourse — no, not in the least. Our remedy is in abundance. God is never far when we have need of comfort, and God is always zealous in restoring to us that which darkness and evil have sought to take from us. Limitless are the ways and means of God returning to us that which has been taken from us. Someone from church will speak a word of encouragement. A friend remembers us and calls us by name when she prays. Another finds some time for us to be together, share a cup of coffee and some conversation. We sing a hymn in worship, or hear a word spoken that gives to us again the joy that God has always meant to be ours. There are countless ways that God works in our lives to keep us close through whatever trial, tragedy or temptation we may face. Even as the evil one uses whatever means is available to rob us and deceive us, so too does God exhaust every avenue in bringing us again to a place of peace and joy.

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