About eight-thirty in the morning, my older daughter heard the sound of a car idling on the road. She had stayed the night with her sister and her four-month-old baby. C—— was scared. Her sister had been followed several times recently, and she had heard that relatives of the baby were looking for the baby to take it.
The car sounded as if it had stopped on the road, and the engine continued to run. C—— could not see very well, so she quickly went and told A—— about the matter, whereupon my younger daughter quickly went to the window and saw a sight that chilled her through and through. A young Hispanic man was running down the driveway to the back of the house. His face was contorted into a grin of fiendish glee, and he carried two great green things, apparently of glass, in each hand as he ran. They seemed to be wine bottles. (We surmised that he might have intended to break them to use as weapons.)
A—— immediately called the police. We speculate that the young man heard them talking to the police on the phone, and he went back to the car and left. After talking to the police, A—— called her mother and me, and I advised her to leave the house immediately. They did. The sheriff’s deputy found no trace of the young man or his car. When we came back to my daughter’s house later, however, the back door had been forced open; the inner door within had been broken, as well. Nothing was missing from the house. The young man was not a burglar; he had come to kidnap the child.
We learned later that the mother of the baby’s biological father wanted the child. The father was in jail on the day of the kidnap attempt. But we were told that he had taken a son of his when he was a child and held him five years before the authorities recovered him.
This incident brought a level of stress and fear to our family which was unprecedented. Every white vehicle and every Hispanic male driver was scrutinized as we drove or as we watched who came down the street. My daughter was afraid to go back to her home, and she and her baby became guests in her parents’ home. We were nervous and jumpy to an incredible degree, insomuch that the baby cried and cried. She could sense that something was wrong.
My daughter had been advised against taking this baby because she was unmarried and only nineteen years old at the time. She had been taking foster care classes to assume responsibility for a school-age child. A mother of one of A——’s school students told her that her niece was to lose her baby to the state when it was born, as the mother was an unfit mother and the boyfriend (father) was abusive and violent. This was sad and undesirable, but an equally unattractive case could be made for a single parent family, with all that would hold for the future. The child would be raised without a father.
The mother of the child and my daughter had played together as children, and she decided that she wanted A—— to have her baby, since she would not be allowed to keep it. The mother of another family wanted to adopt the baby, and A—— talked the birth mother into giving her baby to this family, but then the father of that family could not feel clear to take on that responsibility, and so my daughter ended up with the child. My wife and I had prayed that the Lord would block the matter. But, to our amazement and consternation, our prayers were overruled; and the baby was given by the judge to our daughter. She was awarded permanent custody and guardianship.
At that point, we recognized that God had permitted this trial, that He had allowed A—— to have this awesome responsibility, and that He would give us grace to bear what would need to be borne.
All of this had seemed hard enough. After about a month after the birth of the baby, the birth mother wanted the baby back—even though she would never be permitted by the state to keep the baby. And now, an attempted kidnapping?
“Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you.” (1 Peter 4:12) These words stood out to me as I grappled with the effect of this crime on my family.
I found myself assaulted with powerful feelings of revenge. It was suggested over and over to me to bring this to an end by whatever means were necessary. Scenarios of violence and ambush were vividly painted in my imagination, all of them concluding with a promise of satisfaction and closure. Against all this temptation, I began to lay hold again on the promises of God to get the good out of the trial. To work the trial, rather than allow the trial to work me.
I recognized first that God had allowed and measured out this trial, working as usual through others. He had foreseen the exact consequences on all of us, and He had exactly the amount of grace and help that were necessary to go through the trial with victory. Furthermore, the Lord helped me to realize that we needed this trial. I needed more love for the young man who was terrorizing my family. I began to see the matter from his standpoint—as God had seen it all along. This child (my guardian grandchild) was actually bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh. The child really belonged to his family. His family had failed miserably to take care of the child, so much so that the child was taken from them, but the child was really theirs. This was humbling to acknowledge, but it was and is the truth. A great deal of grace was released to my heart with this realization and confession. I was able to love the kidnapper from my heart. Praise the Lord! Furthermore, I felt sorry for him. He was deprived of his family’s child. She was being raised in the home of a different race. It was plain that he needed grace from God to acknowledge the painful fact that his people had failed the child to the extent that the state had intervened and taken the child from them. I began to get a burden to earnestly pray for him (Matthew 5:44). I began to pray that he and his kindred would abandon the quest to retrieve their baby for the very highest and finest of motives. The painful temptations to resist began to melt before these blessings. Praise God! “He is able to succour them that are tempted.” (Hebrews 2:18) (See also Matthew 5:39 and James 5:6.)
A week later, on a Sunday night, my wife awoke me. “Honey,” she said, “there is a white truck in the driveway, and a Hispanic man has come to the door.”
My daughter fled to the bathroom in the back of the house with the baby. As I went to the door, the thought kept occurring of the shotgun I keep to shoot skunks and possums that raid the chicken yard, but (praise God!) it was not hard to push away. At the door, before opening it, I called, “Who is it?”
A man’s voice answered, “Bob Davis!” It seemed that this was someone for whom my wife had baked a pie, so I opened the door. A Hispanic-appearing man stood there. I knew the police had been called, and could be arriving any moment, so I said, “The police have been called.” I did not want him to be alarmed if they did arrive while he was there. And sure enough, he was there for the pie.
The next day, around noon, my older daughter came to me and said, “Daddy, there is a white car on the street, going very slowly!” I looked out at the street, but the car was not there. It was in our driveway! A man was getting out. He was not Hispanic, but he carried a box. What was in the box? He certainly had our attention. To our relief we realized he was the piano tuner. It was the first time he had been to our house.
A trial of God’s appointing goes everywhere, purging, refining. It is all-pervasive; it accomplishes that whereunto it is sent. We are crowded. The nerves and strength of my wife and myself are not what they have been in the past, during our child-bearing and child-raising years. God has measured out a trial that has brought it all back in focus. “Beloved, think it not strange.” He loves us. He wants us to make it to heaven.
God is quite capable of dealing with us. He knows how to bring us an agony that will present us the truth in inescapable terms. It is His mercy that does so. He could even allow this child to be taken from us to effectively work His will on us. He can strip us of health, of money, of family members and friends through even death, to help us be willing to come to an end of ourselves and voluntarily surrender to and embrace the truth. He will put a longsuffering in your heart, a joy in sorrow, and a profound thankfulness. Yea, “The LORD will perfect that which concerneth me: thy mercy, O LORD, endureth for ever.” (Psalm 138:8)