Throughout most of my life I have lived with someone else. Growing up in a family, I had parents and siblings. Then in college roommates. Finally as a married person I lived with my wife. There was one period of just over seven months when I lived by myself in Huntsville. The apartment was not very far from the radio station I worked at and a short walk down the railroad tracks took me from the back door of my home to the back door of the station. I worked from 4:00 p.m. to midnight and I would walk in the dark down the tracks to go home. Only once did I meet someone coming the other direction on my dark walk home and it was scary, but not threatening.
When I got home, after midnight, I was not ready to go to bed right away, so I would watch television for a while. Sometimes I would watch replays of the Braves game, even though I knew they had already lost. One of those nights I remembered that I had a pecan pie in the fridge, so I went to the kitchen for a late snack. While I was there, I heard a sound in my living room. As I returned, I found two men standing there.
I asked in a shaky voice, “Can I help you?”
The man in front replied, “Ish Jim here?” He slurred his words, but I am not sure whether he was drunk or just faking it.
“There’s no Jim here,” I replied in a quavering voice, while my pie shook in my hand.
The other man responded to his friend, “Come on, we’re in the wrong apartment.” And they left.
After they left, I bolted the door and sat down to think about what happened. I seldom used the front door as the back door led to the parking area and was the closest exit to head to the station. But the mailboxes were in the lobby so I went out the front door each day to get the mail. Earlier that day I had picked up my mail and was looking at it as I returned to the apartment. I must have been distracted and forgot to lock the door upon my return. So for rest of the afternoon and evening, my front door had remained unlocked. That was how the men had gotten in.
I also realized that if I had been in bed, asleep, things might have taken a different path. I could have been robbed or even killed. It took some time for the adrenaline rush to subside enough go to sleep. For the next few months, I double checked the lock each night.
I was thankful for God’s protection over me that night, but realized that my carelessness had put me in the situation. God watches over us, but also expects us to do our part. Like the ad for Christian Mingle says, “sometimes we are waiting for God to act when God is waiting for us to do our part.”
God may be watching over us, but that does not mean we can tempt fate. God gave us brains to use. We need to live our lives wisely and do our part to make sure things go the way they should. “God helps those who help themselves,” may not be biblical, but it is still good advice. We can put our lives and futures into God’s hands every day, but that still does not mean we can ignore traffic laws or the law of gravity. As Saint Augustine said, “Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you.”