June 16, 2008 – Mis-read

One weekend in June of 2008, we had a scary incident at our house. I woke up at about 4:00 and heard voices outside our bedroom window (which isn’t uncommon as it is right next to the sidewalk on a well traveled street).  I got up and went to the bathroom and then heard our doorbell ring while I was in there.  I come out to my wife calling for me and I hear her talking to someone in the front hall: “I’m sorry, I can’t let you in my house.  I’m sorry – do you need help?”

It was pouring down rain and a shirtless man was standing outside our door standing under the door awning.  He didn’t speak, but just pointed toward the sky/rain and kept knocking on our door.  We thought he couldn’t speak English based on how he was gesturing and such.  I finally did what was probably a very stupid thing.  I took a shirt and a towel out to the man through our attached garage.  He took them from me and then promptly walked in through the open garage door and toward the stairs into our house.

I chased after him (weaponless and hoping he was as well). I put my hand up on his back/shoulder and told him he could not go into the house.  He stopped, turned around, and started talking for the very first time and the alcohol odor was almost strong enough to knock me down.  He said something about just wanting to come in the back.  I told him, “You can have the shirt and the towel, but you cannot come inside my house.”  He then asks me why me and my family were messing with him. I had no idea what he meant and I told him so.  I told him again that he could keep the clothes, but that he had to go back outside, not knowing how he was going to react — he wasn’t a very tall guy, but he was a lot more muscular than I am.

Thank God… the guy just looked at me, shook his head, cursed a few more times, and walked back out the garage door into the rain.  As I closed the door, he walked back around to the garage and then back to the front steps.  He continued knocking on our front door, and rang the doorbell again while I was on the phone with the police dispatcher.  They sent a cruiser over and we heard the policemen talking to him through our bedroom window.  He told them his name and where he lived (nowhere near our neighborhood).  Then the police radio blared back that this guy was a registered sexual offender.  He was three steps away from being in my house with my wife, teenage daughter, and toddler!

The police never made direct contact with us — I wonder if the dispatcher even told them that the guy tried to walk into our house.  They probably just thought he was a drunk that somebody phoned in. I later discovered details about the guy’s prior record, which isn’t really vital to the story so I won’t go into that. I don’t know why I went out on the rainy night to offer him a towel and shirt. It really wasn’t a smart thing to do, but I thought that he was a person in need and that I might be able to help him.

The following week only myself and one other made it to the small group. I told the other guy the details of what happened and how I was concerned for my own safety at the time, but was also concerned that this guy maybe needed some serious help. The conversation turned to us wondering what this guy’s story really was — whether he was a violent offender or just a guy down on his luck and in need of a helping hand. We talked about the fault in judging others or assuming the worst in people without knowing their true history. We talked about the need for humility and compassion even for those who might otherwise do harm to us.

When we finally got to reading the upcoming Gospel, my friend somehow got the chapters mixed up and read Mt 21:26-end instead of Mt 10:26-33. I noticed, but did not say anything because the wrong reading had application to the situation we were just talking about.

The “wrong” reading was highlighted in my bible from a prior session and it spoke directly to the point of the dangers expressed above.  I mentioned that it must have been a coincidence (knowing that I didn’t really mean that).  He immediately said that he didn’t believe it was a coincidence at all…

I agree.

Praise God!

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