My car was broken into last week.

Don’t worry I am OK. So is my car. I own a 9 year old car. I keep nothing of value in it, and one could argue that the car itself is not of much value either. But it is mine, and I do not appreciate someone breaking into it. I mistakenly left the passenger door open at work. Although it is 9 years old, it has power locks, one of the few “frills” on an otherwise plain SUV. The power locks have apparently seen better days, and on this day, the passenger door refused to obey the command to lock. A neighborhood teenager noticed, and decided to rifle through my glove compartment.

The youth was spotted by our security guard, who questioned the youth. Apparently, being a thief does not require much of an education. Rather than pose as the owner of the car, the youth chose another option – run! The security guard called police. The youth was caught within a minute or so into his gallop. I was called by the receptionist and told an officer was at the front door wanting to speak to me. After walking with him to the car, I realized no damage was done to the car, and the officer advised me that the youth was apprehended and they did not find anything on him. I was asked if I wanted to prosecute, even though nothing was actually taken. I said yes.

After the incident, as usual, my mind started to work. Who was this young man? What led him to contemplate such an act? The crime was not committed in the middle of the night by a trained burglar. It was 11:30 AM, in a parking lot with quite a bit of activity, and patrolled by security. What would cause this youth to risk his freedom to rifle through the glove compartment of a beat up SUV? Was he hungry? Was he a gang member looking for a weapon? Was he homeless and needed change for the bus? Was this simply a common career criminal that saw an opportunity?

I don’t know the answers to these question, and I may never know. However, I suspect that when he was young, playing around at home, someone in his family asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up. I am pretty sure he did not answer that he wanted to be a thief. He may have wanted to be a fireman or a football player. Who knows, he may have even said he wanted to be a policeman. How ironic given his actions last week.

I believe in all of our lives, there are turning points, pivotal moments in our lives where we make a change based on an event. I have had several in my life. I also believe we have no control over those pivotal moments, only what actions we take when they occur. I believe there is a creator who has complete control over those events, and they all occur to give us the opportunity to grow closer to Him, in preparation for an eternal life after this one. Part of being a Christian is recognizing that God is in control, and allowing our personal savior Jesus Christ to dwell inside of us, change us, and guide our path in this life.

Was this a pivotal moment in the life of this individual? I believe so. I thought about whether I did the right thing in pressing charges. Was this a pivotal moment for me? Maybe. The Bible tells us the following:

Exodus 20:15 “Thou shalt not steal.”

Romans 13:1-7: “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.”

There is much more to these verses, and I do not make it a point of taking the Bible out of context. But I believe it is very clear what we are supposed to do as Christians. So I prayed for this individual. I asked Jesus to make a change in his heart. I asked God to help him realize his error, and to use this event as a life changing event, bringing him closer to God. I was also reminded that I too am a sinner, and in the days after this event, I once again asked for God’s forgiveness, and asked for Him to continue to guide my life.

I know I did the right thing in prosecuting him. My hope is that this young individual will make better decisions in the future. My faith tells me that God put this individual in my path for a reason. Maybe, the person who chose a beat up SUV in a busy parking lot patrolled by security at 11:30AM was also not in control. Maybe, he got caught for a reason. Maybe, this is his pivotal moment. Maybe, someone or something is trying to tell him something.


True Freedom

Yoani Sanchez.

She is a dissident. She lives in Cuba. She has a blog. So do I.

I write from a comfy chair, sipping a coffee that cost me less than a dollar. I write on a computer I purchased with my hard-earned money, that is connected to an Internet connection for which I pay a monthly fee. No one is standing outside my home watching me. No one is waiting to beat me because of the words I write. No one is preventing me from traveling outside of the country. I have the freedom to write what I want, when I want.

Yoani does not have an Internet connection most of the time. Obviously her words reach the world, but they do so in spite of her situation, not because of it. Not too long ago, she was beaten by government officials for her words. She was given an award for her blog, but she is not allowed to leave the country to receive it. There are people watching her every move. She and her husband are like prisoners, not because they are criminals, but because she dares to speak her mind.

We are two people, both writing blogs on the Internet, separated by only 90 miles. How is it that one of us is spoiled rotten by the freedoms we enjoy in the United States, and the other longs for the freedom – as Yoani puts it – to stand on the street and scream that there is no freedom?

I wish I could say that I worked and struggled hard to achieve my freedom. I wish I could say that my freedom came after many years of speaking out against injustice, or that I lobbied the government or fought for my God-given rights. I did nothing of the kind. My freedom was a gift. I am the recipient of the actions my parents and grandparents took many years ago. Even more important, my true freedom is a result of the greatest sacrifice the world has ever known. In many ways I am spoiled rotten. I don’t know what it is to be hungry. I don’t know what it is to be beaten into submission. I don’t know what it is to be denied basic human rights. From time to time I have to sit back and thank God for the blessings I have been given.

During these times, I also wonder what might have been. What would my life have been if my parents had not made the decisions they did? What if my parents never left Cuba? Would I be hungry today? Would I be in Cuba, and like Yoani yearn for a freedom she admits she does not completely understand? I can’t help but think what would have happened if my parents and others had stayed and fought the regime. Would Fidel have been defeated by those he lied to? Would true freedom and Democracy have come to Cuba? Maybe not. Maybe they would have been killed, and I would have never been born. Who knows?

But we cannot live in what would have been, only what is. Today I have freedom, and boy do I value that freedom. But my understanding of freedom today is not what it was years ago. The wisdom of my years causes me to have a better idea of what true freedom really is. You see, the freedoms we have today in the United States – while given to us by our creator – are administered by men – imperfect men. There will always be men willing and able to take that kind of freedom away from us if we allow it.

But there is freedom that man can never take away. The freedom of the cross is eternal. The freedom given to us as a result of His sacrifice on the cross can never be taken away by imperfect, fallen creatures. That is where my trust lies – the one that will never fail. That is my hope for Yoani and all the others that struggle in Cuba, the Middle East, and anywhere else where men use greed and power as an excuse to deny any human being the rights given to us by God. Regardless of what these men do, Jesus Christ frees us from this world. This is the freedom we can always trust and put our faith in.

Stay strong, Yoani, and press on. God has a plan for all of us.