It never occurred to me that I would one day be writing a column whose first line contained the words, "I really admire the guy that robbed us," and yet here it is.
Our church has joined the ranks of those that have had catalytic converters stolen off of our vans.
I am an unrepentant, recalcitrant workaholic. I always have been. An elderly pastor's wife not too far from us, who many years ago was my third-grade schoolteacher, loves to remind me that I used to ask for extra work to do when my assigned work was done. That attitude has only deepened through the years; very rarely do I work less than 70 hours a week, and usually more than that. I pastor, do a full schedule of evangelism, write books and columns, teach in a Christian school, do the maintenance work on our church facilities and grounds and many more things that fill up my hours with labor. As such, when I see a person with an excellent work ethic, I really do admire it; I have no use for laziness whatsoever.
So, my man, whoever you are, mad props from me to you.
Thanks to our security cameras, we know that our thief was dropped off on Wednesday, April 20, at 10:48 a.m. at the bottom of our driveway by someone driving a silver crew-cab truck. He walked up the long drive, checked around and immediately set to work. He was really lucky in one regard; Dana and I are almost always there from early in the morning on Wednesday until late in the evening. This was one of maybe two or three days out of the year that we were not.
Our thief, I will call him Robbing Hood, crawled under the 1994 Dodge that we use each Sunday night to pick up homeless people and bring them to church for a good meal and a service and, in less than 10 minutes, had that converter in his backpack. He was really covered up well, wearing dark pants, a black hoodie, a reddish/orange and white hat poking out from under the hoodie, and a face mask.
But it was when he crawled under the 2016 Ford Transit van that our ladies and youth use that his work ethic really began to shine. It has very low clearance, so he did not have much room to work and apparently is not yet a real expert at the task; it took him nearly two hours to get those two converters off. It was really pretty hysterical watching the video footage; his feet and legs wiggled and squirmed and shook as he tried his darnedest to get his prizes. But finally, he wrestled them free, crawled out from under the van and calmly walked off the back of the property to be picked up by his accomplice.
We posted all of this online and quickly received another revelation; we were at least the second church he hit that day; he had been at his task very early in the morning, just a few miles away.
We posted a reward for information leading to his capture, local law enforcement was there pretty quick, and we and they are confident he will be caught.
But that does not change the main point of this column even a little bit; that guy, whoever he is, is a really hard worker. Instead of just taking what he could easily get in 10 minutes, he stayed and wrestled the next one for two hours under pretty poor conditions, and all of this was after his first stop of the day!
Can you even imagine what someone like this could become if they had come to know Christ early in life and then followed good guides as he grew? Can you imagine what he could still become if he ever does get saved and then chooses to associate with honest, wise people? Proverbs 13:20 says, "He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed." In 1 Thessalonians 4, verses 11-12 say, "And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you; that ye may walk honestly toward them that are without, and that ye may have lack of nothing."
To be blunt but honest, this lost, sinful man seems to me to have more potential than a few professing Christians I have known who, in old-timey vernacular, "Won't hit a lick at a snake." If Robbing Hood ever does get saved and start living for God, I rather suspect he is going to become both spiritually and financially successful. And that makes his current condition the biggest tragedy of the entire affair; his potential is being utterly squandered. I know employers who would love to have someone willing to work that hard. I also know from personal experience that a person like that would do even better as a business owner. I owned and operated my own business before I went full time in the ministry and supported a family really well on it simply because I worked hard and did my best to out-hustle everyone else.
So as I end this column, let me do so with one direct encouragement and one general encouragement.
My man, whoever you are, you can do way better for yourself in life. You are living on crumbs when you could be living on steak. You are hanging with low-lifes when you could be associating with people who are clean, happy and wildly successful. Repent of your sin, receive Christ as your Savior, and then take that amazing work ethic of yours and do something better with it.
And to everyone else, don't let a thief have a better work ethic than you. Proverbs 10:4 says, "He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand: but the hand of the diligent maketh rich."
Bo Wagner is pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church of Mooresboro, North Carolina, a widely traveled evangelist and the author of several books available on Amazon and at www.wordofhismouth.com. Email him at email@example.com.