Thursday, October 1, 2009

An incident

The other day I mentioned this rather unnerving (and by that I mean, terrifying in the extreme!) incident in college when a homeless man pushed his way into my apartment.  My roommate was already asleep, and I'd just returned from taking my boyfriend (who shall remain forever nameless here) home.  When I returned I noticed that the nameless one had forgotten his backpack.  So when there was a knock on the door a few moments later, I was pretty sure it was him, because he needed that bag for school the next day.  Our door didn't have a peep-hole in it, nor a chain lock but I knew who was knocking, right?  So, even though it was after midnight, I opened the door.  And a rather tall, very broad, very bushy (long hair, long beard) man pushed his way into my apartment.  I was instantly as terrified as I've ever been. He told me he was homeless and needed a place to sleep for the night.  While I was praying with every fiber of my being, from the marrow of my bones to the follicules of my hair, and what I couldn't pray, I was asking the Holy Spirit to intercede on my behalf.

I couldn't get him to leave.  Instead he picked up the dictionary that was lying on the table, and he asked if I knew the definition of rape.  I'm not making this up.  By then I was sitting in our rocking chair rocking back and forth like I was the crazy person.  And he was pacing the room.  He talked about how in the French Foreign Legion, they just took women, straight out of their homes and did whatever they wanted with them.  As he spoke, I answered more calmly than I was capable of being.  I told him I was a Christian, that God wanted me to extend grace, and even love to him.  He was startled by me, but simply ratcheted up his words.  And as his barely veiled threats grew more insistent, my calm disappeared.  My voice rose to an octave I don't believe I've ever reached before or since in my life.  And just when the whole situation was going to...well, you can imagine where it was going, when this man had reached out and grabbed my arm, my roommate walked out of the bedroom.  She stood in the hallway with her curly hair frizzing all over her head (which she normally hated, but thank God for it, really!), her arms crossed and her voice rough with sleep.  She honestly looked larger than I'd ever seen her.  She said, "You need to leave right now!" And that man (probably 6'4" and at least 250--at least that's what we told the cops) picked up a blanket we had sitting on the couch, and he left.  He really left.

I don't think either my roommate or I slept the rest of the night (after we'd reported it to the police).  But I have to say, I have never felt more certain of God's intervention.  He was present, in the words I spoke and in the calm He laid over my fear.  He awakened my roommate, and created the illusion that she'd grown about a foot and had gained 100 lbs. In all these ways He kept me safe when I was in such danger.  And I really was--in danger, that is.  The police told us that the description matched that of a man who'd raped several college students in that town.  (Oh, and our landlords had a peep hole put in that door that very week, which we were incredibly grateful for when the bearded man returned early one morning a few weeks later--his unfinished business with me remained unfinished, thank GOD!)

I was reminded of this incident because tonight SK and her roommates opened their door to a young man supposedly selling magazines, a man who pushed his way into their house and asked them whether they had boyfriends. Finally they got him out of the house, and then I think they all began calling home.  It's been a rough week for those girls.  SK walked into her college's health care center and half an hour later walked out wearing a mask, with the instructions not to return to class for the next two days.  And one of her roommates may be facing something even more scary. 

But that incident from my college years is a promise to my daughter in hers. And this post is for her, and her friends. No matter what happens, even if the worst happens (and sometimes it does) He will be present, He IS present.In your relationships and in your academics.  Between you especially.  And I know--indeed, God Himself knows--that He is praying for you.  Really, always praying for you. "He will give His angels charge concerning you, to guard you in all your ways." (Psalm 91:11)  There is no safer place to be.

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