They left a trail of evidence: shattered glass, muddy shoe-prints, broken cabinets. They stole, and they rummaged, and they popped the lid off the baptismal font looking for treasure inside, though the sacramental contents could never be sold at a pawn shop.
That’s how we found our church last night, a bit overturned and broken and muddied by thieves. Our men picked up jagged glass with gloved hands, and they boarded up the window.
And all I could do was shake my head, and sigh deeply and — once again — wonder how we can protect this sanctuary nestled between fields of yellowing soybean plants and tassled corn.
Beside me, Lydia found words to fill the silence. Her voice shook: “Do you think they took our new markers and our Bibles, Mommy?”
She gripped my hand and pulled me in the direction of the classrooms.
Just two days earlier, the girls and I had sorted new supplies for Sunday School. Giddy we were, reveling in this holy rite of sharpening new No. 2 pencils and thumbing through Noah’s Ark sticker sheets. We stacked PlayDoh, arranged glue bottles and marked fresh new Bibles with students’ names.
Since then, someone had shattered a window — shattered our excitement — and then slipped out a side door with some of what they’d come for.
The sheriff’s deputy came by, took an account of what we’d lost. Mostly electronics. Our supplies, though, were still in place.
We are a church of great worth, but not of great riches. Our worth comes not in things that can be put on shelves or stored up in bank accounts. We’re a church of farmers and widows, a few young parents and a couple old bachelors. Some of us show up in ties; others in T-shirts.
We’re aren’t perfect people under that steeple. No. But we know the One who is. And it’s His riches we cling to — the kind that can’t be bought or sold. Or stolen.
Still, our family of four left the House of God last night feeling wronged and angry.
Lydia knew what we ought to do: “Mommy, we just gotta pray.”
And we did pray.
We prayed that investigators would find the burglars. We prayed we’d get our stuff back. And we prayed that the thieves would find new riches — not in things, but in Jesus.
And we all felt better afterward.
But as the sun set over our church’s white steeple a mile away, fear crept into the bedroom of our youngest.
We heard whimpers from her bedroom, and went downstairs to find her with wide-eyed fear. Little Anna — sweaty and tear-streaked — clutched Uniqua, her stuffed animal.
“I’m afraid they’re going to break into my window,” she said.
Churches aren’t supposed to get “broken,” Anna said.