We spend a quiet evening together, take rinse-off showers to wash off the sweat and the grime from the day, and then get into bed and talk for a bit before turning off the light. Before we say prayer and goodnight to each other, Rachel opens the curtain to look at the moon.
“Is it a full moon?” She asks. And then, quickly closing the curtain, “Jon! There’s somebody right outside our window!”
Now Rachel is a little prone to exaggeration, screaming over small spiders and such, so for a second I lie there taking in what she has just said. And then she looks again and whispers, “Oh my gosh! There really is a man there! He’s crouching right outside our window.”
Immediately a cold chill surges down my spine as I roll over and peek out the window. This is the hypothetical situation, the nightmare that every man thinks about: What would you do if someone comes into your house in the middle of the night and threatens your family? How am I going to handle it? There are some Pick Up Sticks in our closet. Maybe I could stab him in the eye if he tries to come in. Other than that, we’re pretty defenseless.
If there is someone there, they have vanished. I leap out of bed, go to the living room, and peek out of the curtain. There is a young man, probably about 16 or 17 years old, standing in the park across the street, looking up and down the street but definitely staring at our house. Rachel and I creep into the kids ‘room for a different vantage point and discreetly peek out the curtain again. We don’t see anyone else lurking around the house, but we notice that the neighbors’ gate is wide open and their van is gone. The man across the street is definitely staring at our house, and apparently convinced that he hasn’t been found out, he picks something up off the ground begins crossing the street toward our house. Barely breathing, we watch as the lurker walks through the open gate, past our kids’ bedroom, and between the two houses to where our window lies. Breathing a prayer, I creep over to the kids’ side window, peek out, and silently open the glass slats, knowing that there is a man crouching not more than 10 feet away.
Mustering up a strong and confident voice, I state more than ask, “What are you doing, friend.”
Silence. Has he already disappeared into the night?
Again, “What are you doing, friend.”
And then, from the blackness, “I am playing hide and seek. I’m hiding.”
“That’s not true.”
“Yes, it’s true! I’m playing hide and seek with my friends in the park.”
“That’s not true. I’ve been watching you.”
Silence, and then, “Okay. I’m sorry. I’m going.”
And we watch as he walks past the window, through the gate, and down the street, disappearing into the night.
Somehow we did end up falling asleep that night, and thankfully, Rachel even seemed to sleep better than I did. Before going to bed, I closed the neighbors’ gate, moved a beach chair that we found under our bathroom window, and surveilled the park until I felt confident that he wasn’t coming back. But until morning, I found myself jumping out of bed to investigate any thump, bump, or creak in the night.
Yesterday we talked to our next-door neighbors. They said that they’ve lived here for six years and have felt completely safe, but they did seem concerned and were very supportive. Eugene wants to find him and, uh, “talk to” him. Last night they had a dog. I don’t know if they borrowed the dog because of this experience or if they were already scheduled to watch it. Either way, it felt reassuring, and Jacob, Charlotte, and the neighbor kids had a blast playing with him and screaming like banshees. We’ve also used clothespins to close the gaps in our curtains and have hung pillowcases over the window in the bathroom. We’ll remain vigilant and Rachel is still pretty shaken up, but I believe that our confidence is being restored.
I have never been interested in owning a gun, and I still feel that way. People often advocate owning a gun for “self-defense,” but I believe that this provides not much more than a false sense of security and can even create a self-endangering threat. Instead, I am thankful for our good and powerful God that has promised to be our protection. A gun may give a false sense of security, but I would rather place myself in the hands of the Almighty. And yes, I know that bad things sometimes happen to God-fearing, good people, but bad things sometimes happen to people who own guns, too. I want to choose to be a peacemaker and to rest in the Promises.
“In repentance and rest is your salvation,
in quietness and trust is your strength” (Isaiah 30:15).
“I lift up my eyes to the mountains--
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip--
he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord watches over you--
the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all harm--
he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore” (Psalm 121:1-8).