But Pilate answered, "You take him and crucify him. As for me, I find no basis for a charge against him." John 19:6 (NIV)
From then on, Pilate tried to set Jesus free, but the Jews kept shouting, "If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar. Anyone who claims to be a king opposes Caesar." John 19:12 (NIV)
Finally Pilate handed him over to them (the chief priests) to be crucified. So the soldiers took charge of Jesus. John 19:16 (NIV)
Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS....the sign was written in Aramaic, Latin, and Greek. John 19:19, 20 (NIV)
Thuds, banging, then shouts of profanity joined by explicit threats as to what bodily harm would come to my husband and I.
The angry screams from the faceless mob outside our townhouse echoed throughout the complex off of Sherwood Forest Drive in Houston, TX.
As my husband struggled to keep from opening up the door in answer to their insults and threats, I pleaded silently with the shake of my head and with my imploring eyes to keep the door safely locked and closed.
Our children, ages five, three, and one, stared wide-eyed in disbelief at hearing such unheard of crude words and ugly threats toward their parents. They were used to a world of cooperation and kindness. This experience was teaching them about a flip side to their world that we tried to shield them from.
Several weeks before this raucous scene, the loud music began. Parties started after 1:00 a.m. and the music would rage louder and louder until all of us woke up. The townhouse beside us was filled to overflowing and the doors constantly opened and closed for hours until dawn.
The parties continued off and on, until one day I approached and spoke to the renter as he exited his car. I started with small talk and found that we were both from Indiana, which I had hoped would be some common ground for a starter. Tentatively, I brought up the topic of the sleepless night we all had experienced. I explained that we had a baby and two other small children who were very scared that night. I had hoped to see a bit of compassion develop for the children.
Quite the opposite, the only response I got was a grunt and a look of disgust. The friendly nature that he showed at the beginning of our conversation vanished for another more ominous. He turned away and slammed his door shut behind. That was the only reply I received.
Wrestling with the temptation to knock again, I knew without a doubt that another encounter today would be fruitless. I prayed and asked for wisdom and relief from the nocturnal interruptions.
That same evening, a louder, rowdier party ensued. Crashing, breaking glass, pounding on our walls, and music that sounded like we were blasting it in our place, played from midnight to daybreak.
All it took was for one man to inflame the rest. They followed obligingly in their intoxicated state.
Then like a hot coal touching a bit of kindling, the fire raged and took off into something much greater and more dangerous as they pounded on our walls and yelled for hours.
The ferocity of the disturbance was obviously intentional, so after comforting our children and piling them into our bedroom for the night, we decided to enlist the help of the management of our townhouse. We called her, and she assured us she would be right over. She was a chubby young woman with dark curly hair. She used the knocker to rap on their door. The neighbor answered. After listening to the problem she posed, he and his friends shouted their denials and insulted her.
As soon as the squad car pulled out of sight, out stormed the angry swarm of protestors from next door. This time, they pounded on our front door and yelled vile remarks and distasteful threats. All the time they dared my husband to be man enough to come out on the sidewalk and face them.
I was so thankful that Clem did not take the bait and stayed safely inside. I breathed a quick plea to God for help to get us through this horrible ordeal. I was concerned that the children might be too scared to sleep or be plagued with nightmares after this.
We tried our best to explain to the kids why the men were so angry, then we prayed with them.
Jennie, my four year old, prayed for the men. She felt the real problem was that they did not have God's love in their hearts and she was exactly right. Nathan also said a prayer for a quiet night without any more banging. He didn't want the bad guys hurting us.
I also prayed over baby Audrey, that God's peace would flood our home and that we would all be protected from harm. After those prayers, we all experienced such an uncanny peace and calm. I personally felt a courage that could not be explained.
Our rental manager called the next day and asked how we were doing. When she found about the little mob scene, she explained that the other neighbors had filed a report as well a few nights before. She planned to file an eviction notice. What a relief!
The downside though, they had thirty days to find a new place to live.
Another day obscenities hurled my way made me hurry the kids inside. Instead of retaliating, or even commenting, God gave me the good sense and the utter peace to ignore them. I simply walked inside without muttering a word. I would not even wrinkle my brow. I did not want to upset or give him the satisfaction.
I merely told my kids told to pray for those men.
"Soon they will be gone and we will not have to listen to this anymore, so just pretend that it is only hail banging on the roof. Soon it will stop and the hail will melt away. They have to leave us alone one day," I promised them.
The day finally came and went. The quiet at night was surreal after so many crazy nights. Peace at last!
After this experience, I understand to a small degree the scorn and the hatred that was thrown toward my wonderful Lord Jesus. He understood the cost, yet he resolved to demonstrate to the whole world just how much the Father loved all of us and he was determined to follow through to see us set free.
Mobs get stirred up and temporarily become a little insane. This world is broken. This is not my final homeland. My heart longs to reach my destination and just relax in a place where goodness reigns, but I have a lot of living to do until that day comes.
I have a personal enemy who tries to shake me up, yet there is one voice who speaks clearly into my being and strengthens me when I am troubled or afraid. This familiar voice is God's.
The days ahead may seem senseless with violence and disruptions of our peaceful way of life. This is not our final destiny. This will not be the end of the story. Accept this gift of salvation that Jesus so dearly paid for you. Repent of your sins and ask him into your life.
One day, just like that rude next door neighbor of ours, the day of eviction will arrive and evil's influence will end. They will be forced to leave us all alone, I promise you!
Note: After publishing this blog, I talked to my oldest daughter, Jennifer, who was five years old at the time. She could not believe that this had happened, because she did not remember one detail of these disruptive events. This just goes to show that one way or another, God was faithful to answer prayer. Just as God answered prayer by filling our home with peace during those thirty days, he also removed the memory of those frightening nights and days from her.